A glimpse at what we do
Well, for a start – we want EVERYONE to sing, And we believe that it really helps in the telling of the ballad story if the singer has a clear idea of what’s going on – even to the point of mentally filling in the missing details to make a convincing performance. So, we usually start by going through the ballad to establish who the protagonists are, what they’re up to and why they’re doing it.
Then we teach a basic version of the tune with a fair emphasis on the rhythm so that it can be fitted tidily to the text. At this point we might alter either the words or the tune if we come across a ‘clunky’ passage, and all the time we suggest/emphasise that the final version should be as close to the rhythms of speech as is feasible. We may also present extra verses as either additions or alternatives to the main text.
We also like to consider the appropriateness of melody and pace so that these are a really positive factor in carrying the story. And now areas like decoration can be introduced, because the singer is secure with the story, the tune, and its general delivery.
Naturally, we’re always hoping to hear some new work in progress from participants (entirely voluntary!) with helpful feedback from the others. The discussion that is generated is always interesting, bringing new information and opinions to the table. All of this we manage to do inside an hour.
And it wouldn’t be a Glasgow Ballad Workshop without a singaround!