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Slothful singers

By Ian Nance - posted Thursday, 29 May 2014


Judged by cultural trends, Australia is well down the path to becoming the U.S.of A.'s fifty-first state. Our yobbo Yankification is ramping up its repertoire in the fields of fashion, consumerism and music.

It is the latter which confronts our perceptions of self, when vocalised by slothful singers.

They probably communicate sufficiently well enough Stateside, with their lazy ignorance of language and its usage, but then go on to try to convince folk who would normally use normal intonation and expression of English words, that anything will do, provided that some degree of emotion is shown.

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For years we've heard the Aussie cultist singers aping phrases, such as "mah lerv", "y'all", "ahm goner" coupled with the Untied States' switches in terminology which sees autos (cars) running on gasoline (petrol) with their pieces of shiny aluminum (aluminium) washed from a hose connected to a faucet (tap), sometimes done on the sidewalk (footpath).

The acceptance of the conformist imperative attributed to St.Augustine, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do"  leaves little genuine option to disparage the Americanisation of our mother tongue.

After all, it is what they have grown up (?) to accept as correct. But that fact does not render acceptable, at least to moderately well-educated people, the cultural clash caused by inability, or laziness, firstly in understanding etymology of what to them passes for English, then applying a vocal rendition in the original true form.

There is an almost slang-like stylised conformity of lazy delivery, skirting over many vowels and consonants, often with a nasally intonation, which creates in the listeners mind a picture of a singer rolling in unreality.

Every custom has characteristic styles, different to those of similar but other cultures, and I fear that we here in the great Down Under are struggling to mimic the habits of what we perceive to be a trend setter in routine, or practice. (That's practice with a "c", not an "s".)

I listen to, and enjoy, a considerable amount of radio music presentation, because I like the idea of browsing aurally what others have chosen to place in the play list, rather than listen to my own collation of sound.

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Although my preference is for classical repertoires, I walk a very wide enjoyable musical field, from Beethoven to Bacharach, Mozart to Madonna, Rachmaninoff to Redding, Liszt to Lennon, Prokofiev to Presley, Mahler to Marley, and Sibelius to Springsteen.

I enjoy the structure, feel, and emotion of rock, bluegrass and country music, yet it is in many of these genres that word corruption through lethargic language causes my attention and enjoyment to switch from the essence of the item to its lazy delivery.

I do not bemoan the existence of vocal variants; they are like hearing English spoken with a foreign accent. Rather, I regret the lack of a balancing presence of a correct alternative across the very broad spectrum of modern music.

That is not to say that every American vocalist should replicate the accent of John Williamson, but it disturbs me when I hear our extremely good, talented indigenous singers sounding like copycat Yanks in what seems to be their desperate attempt at populist acceptance.

We don't have to sound, act, dress, or behave like Americans to stand out with the sheer value of our intrinsic worth. Let's accept that we can be exclusive and different, not just copiers of cultures.

Australia for Australians - I don't care about the stink; me name's Bruce Scadger, and I'll say just what I think!

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About the Author

Ian Nance's media career began in radio drama production and news. He took up TV direction of news/current affairs, thence freelance television and film producing, directing and writing. He operated a program and commercial production company, later moving into advertising and marketing.

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