Thursday, 2 April 2015

why do I sing at folk club?

In an email after our workshop at choir, I wrote:
'I'd have been interested to hear from people who don't sing at folk club, about why they don't want to or feel able to, and maybe explore that. Especially people who - without any false modesty on my part - clearly have better voices than I do, and who seem very confident when singing in the choir.
'Which then raised for me the equivalent question for those of us who *do* sing at folk club: why *do* we? I've been thinking about that! (But this email's already long enough.)'

So, why do I sing at folk club? It's certainly not because I think I have a good voice, or that I - literally, or I hope metaphorically - like the sound of my own voice. I love to sing, I might say to start with. But that would be satisfied by singing in the choir or joining in with others' songs. Especially since I most love to sing in harmony, and obviously you can't do that singing solo. I was recently able to sing in duets and trios at folk club, and I loved that so much. I have wondered whether if I were always able to sing a duet, say, then I'd never need or want to sing solo again.

That helps to focus an answer to my question to myself, because I think I still would. Because I think, here's a song which I love which I would like other people to hear.

Other clues to that are my reluctance to sing the same song twice in the same place (partly through not wanting to be repetitious, and through wanting to keep extending my 'repertoire', but a lot because if people have heard me sing this before they've heard this version, they already know it), and that I don't think I would like to sing at the choir folk club a song we've done recently at choir (because, again, everyone knows it - though some people do this, and do it well, because they do it differently, which would be a reason, especially in my mind to do a one-per-part harmony version so people could hear what that would sound like).

Within that is also a sub-set of non-folk-songs which people might know but which I think can be unearthed from their original settings and revealed as folk songs (with greater or lesser success, and with greater or lesser variation from the style/genre of the original).

And that might also then explain on the one hand my resistance to people at folk clubs who are very obviously 'performing', and on the other hand my own going to the other extreme and not putting the song across at all in any physical way - 'pay no attention to me, but just listen to this song'.

I am also at our Morris folk club often the only person who performs twice. Why do I do that? I think in the first instance it was because I'd come from singing at Sharp's, where it's the usual pattern - unless there are too many performers, everyone performs once in the first half and once in the second half. Even when I realised it wasn't so common at Morris, however, I still stuck with it. Again, I hope people don't think it's because I like the sound of my own voice. Partly it's in the hope of encouraging others who are better than me to do the same, because I'd like to hear them again and because I'd like the folk club to last longer. But it's probably mainly because I've got a lot of songs that I'd like to sing. I have a rule for myself that my two songs can't both be songs I've sung before somewhere else (ie Sharp's, essentially), so I tend to sing one song I've sung before somewhere else and one song which I've never sung before in public; in the former case, it's usually therefore just the second time I've sung it in public, with the first time usually having been at Sharp's.

As with so many things, I have a set of related lists - in this case, folders in iTunes: 'folk done at Morris and Sharp's', 'folk done at Morris not Sharp's', 'folk done at Sharp's not Morris', and 'folk done at Sharps in co of Morris' (ie when we've gone there as a choir). I also started a folder 'folk done at Goose' after my first and so far only visit to The Goose Is Out in Nunhead. I also have 'folk learning', 'folk revising', 'folk reserve', 'folk reserve reserve' and 'folk learning but may never use' (mostly for non-folk repertoire).

The folder called 'folk done at Sharp's not Morris' still contains 27 songs - easily more than two years' worth if I only sing one a night at our folk club - and in my learning/revising folders I currently have 22 songs. That's why I sing two a night.

A footnote to the 'those who don't sing' question. Since I've joined, every current male member of the choir excepting the most recent joiner (that is, eight out of nine) has sung solo at folk club, in most cases pretty regularly; I think in that time only four of the women have. (Singing at this week's folk club: eight solo men, one solo woman. And yet our folk club, being largely made up of choir members, is in the I think fairly unusual position of having more women attending it than men.)

There's not a person alive with ears who would say that we are eight out of the twelve best singers in the choir. It's a very striking male/female ratio in solo performance; and yet I would defy anyone to say that the men in the choir as a whole were in general, as people, more confident or extrovert or whatever than the women in the choir. (Indeed, one of the women who sings is perhaps one of the most reserved; I think we are very alike, though it strikes me that some people who know me only from the choir may think I am rather self-confident, which is an odd thought.) I find it very hard to understand - and a bit frustrating, actually, but I don't want to get too intense and go on about it too much in case it puts people even further off singing solo at folk club.