A musical challenge

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Tom

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Many years ago, Chris and I hosted a Christmas lunch for a large group of employees of different cultural backgrounds. Chris had the idea that folks would sing something in their native language; Folks either sang solos or sang in pairs or small ensembles, and this was quite a hit. In subsequent years, we'd frequently host parties at our house, and had a 'rule' that folks couldn't leave without singing a song. That really showed us who the great singers were, and exposed us to some wonderful songs. Sometimes we'd drag out the karaoke machine to help folks struggling with the lyrics &/or melody.

A few years ago, reflecting on the above gave me the idea of arranging a medley of primarily non-English songs from around the world. The project sat on the back burner, until I was noodling on a guitar one day this week. I was thinking of the upcoming holiday season, reminiscing about prior years where we've held family singalongs/playalongs, and wondering how we might change things up a bit. It will be something of a challenge for me vocally this year, thanks to trauma to the vocal folds and associated muscles during intubation prior to surgery a year ago. But I figure (hope) I can do enough to encourage others to participate. On to song choices ...

Growing up in a place where English was not the first language, I learned to sing countless songs in Welsh; This would be an easy starting point (for me). French would be a natural extension, but songs from some other European countries might be more difficult to sing.

Something I've done over the years is to learn various national anthems, and sing along while they're sung at sporting events. I found myself doing this recently as I've watched the 2019 Rugby World Cup tournament (hosted by Japan), where every game is preceded by the singing of national anthems. Watching some players really struggle to sing their own national anthem is a bit of an eye opener.

A song from South of the border and a Hawaiian song might be appropriate. Asia opens up a huge source of songs. An easy one to sing and play is the Japanese song Ue o Muite Aruko (aka Sukiyaki). Moving to the Philippines, there are countless beautiful songs in the tagalog language, although they take a little practice to pronounce. I'm really struggling with Vietnamese songs, because of the language and pronounciation.

Wish me luck. No previews  :)
 

SeilerBird

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Good luck Tom, but leave me out. I am a total failure at foreign languages. One of my uke meetups was done at a Hawaiian business and he usually played several Hawaiian songs every meetup. Following the lyrics and chords was hopeless for me. After a few lines I was lost because what he was singing never looked like what was in the lyric sheet.
 

Tom

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Tom, I'll definitely have to spare you Welsh songs  ;D

I too struggle with languages but, having spent a career traveling the world, I was forced to pick up some basics. Often, a song or two after business and dinner helped break the ice. I've even been known to get Italians singing over lunch  :)
 

SeilerBird

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I really struggle with languages. In the 7th grade I took French (only because Ms. Sokol was a babe) and failed. In the 9th grade I took Spanish and failed (only because Yvette sat next to me). So I have given up on foreign languages.
 

UTTransplant

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What a great idea Tom. Lots of people sing in languages they can?t speak conversationally. I have sung Latin, Italian, French, and German. While I could read scientific German many, many years ago (a requirement for grad school in the sciences back in the day), I was never conversational. I bet you will have many volunteers to help with pronunciation and accompaniments when word gets around of your project.
 

Tom

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Lots of people sing in languages they can?t speak conversationally.
Very true, and I've been able to reproduce sounds (songs) after listening to them. I don't really know if I'm learning the lyrics "phonetically", but my voice seems to 'slide' into the notes; I once told a musical friend that I sometimes "asymptote to the notes".

Reminds me of arriving in Hong Kong on one of my multi-country hops, checking into the hotel at 10pm. I dragged my colleague down to the bar to unwind from the travel, and we were entertained by 3 Filipinos, 2 female singers and a male keyboard player. I noticed the girls, both excellent singers, reading from large hard-covered ledger books. During their break, the 3 entertainers joined us at the table, and I just had to ask if I could see the contents of one of the books that they were literally clutching tight. The lyrics of very song were handwritten phonetically, and they explained they wrote them while listening to songs on the radio, and they just wrote down what they heard.
 

Tom

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My initial research of Nordic songs finds them dominated by chants (e.g. the Viking war chants), or influenced by Eastern European music. Those chants are accompanied by drums, not guitars or ukuleles  :eek: If I got by these issues, pronunciation of Nordic languages would be a problem  ???

I can manage Japanese and Tagalog songs, thanks to You Tube and a lot of practice.

Back to the rugby world cup tournament, so I can sing along with the national anthems.
 

Tom

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reflecting on the above gave me the idea of arranging a medley of primarily non-English songs from around the world

Here's an intervening part of the background, with apologies to our accomplished musicians:

Several years ago, as a teaching moment for Delta Strummers newbies, I arranged a medley of songs from various parts of the (English-speaking) world, and wove a spoken 'around the world' story around them. I took a few liberties with chords, but the result was a selection of songs played with a simple 4-chord progression; In the key of C that would be a C-Am-F-G7 progression, or in any tuning/key I-vi-IV-V. The message was simply that, by learning to strum and switch between these four chords, one can play hundreds (maybe thousands) of songs by merely changing the strum and the tempo.

Coming away from uke practice that evening, and thinking about the other part of the story (in my first message), was when I first came up with the idea for my new project.
 

SeilerBird

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That is a great way to arrange a medley. I bet it sounds great.
 

Tom

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Back to the rugby world cup tournament, so I can sing along with the national anthems

I failed in my attempt to sing the national anthem of Argentina today  :-[ Shame on me, since I've heard it 'live' at a rugby game between Wales & Argentina, albeit some years ago.
 
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