Rag’n’Bone Man

You pick up your mother tongue through love and listening. You pick up your singing voice in the same way:

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Sing the Right Zombie

A George Romero zombie is not the zombie Dolores O’Riordan had in mind when she wrote her song for The Cranberries. There’s a terrible desolation at its heart. A vacant stare and dull eyes. No outstretched arms, no slow relentless walk. Her zombie is a different creature. It’s trapped, benumbed by violence:

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Black Raven

You won’t find a single word of English in it, but here’s an English question: what feeling does this Cossack song convey to you?

You don’t need to understand Russian  to play the game. Empathy is a universal:

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Singing as slowly as a bird

One of 2015’s Brighton Festival treasures was Marcus Coate’s Dawn Chorus at Fabrica.

Imagine 14 humans, each in its ‘natural habitat’ (taxi, bath-tub, kitchen), sounding (and looking) like Northumbrian birds. The sound is all human, the speed is all bird:

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Dem bones, dem bones, dem disobedient bones

People throw themselves into Dem Bones with such enthusiasm because it feels like pure rebellion. We all carry a schoolteacher voice in our heads. Each time we sing dem, the teacher voice squeals those. But the music takes us by the hand and leads us out of earshot. You can sing dem bones, you can sing them bones, but the music just won’t allow you to sing those bones. The music’s right, the teacher’s wrong. The world turned upside down.

Watch the Four Lads version of Dem Bones from the final episode of The Prisoner and you’ll see the percussive, rebellious dem sound get under the skin of everyone in the courtroom. Even the judge:

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