My hope is that if men see a huge variety of different kinds of men singing together, they might be inspired to get off the sofa and go and try it themselves.
Like the word ‘choir’, the concept of ‘men singing’ can bring up specific stereotypes – not all of them pleasing.
If there is not a relevant role model out there, it can easily put men off singing because they feel that they don’t fit the mould.
Rather than going into the whys and wherefores of why men don’t sing, I thought I’d just share some great examples of men singing together. Who knows, you may find an example that fits the bill. I hope they inspire you!
First up is from a rather strange but wonderful Swiss tradition: Silvesterchlausen. This is a unique winter festival with pagan roots (a Silvesterchlaus is a New Year’s Mummer) celebrated in a few towns in the Canton of Appenzell. All masques are traditionally men. The “beautiful” Chlausen wear richly decorated women’s dresses, the “ugly” ones shaggy twig coats and demon masques, and the “ugly-beautiful” or forest-nature spirits wear a mix of both. All of them carry bells.
Next is Lo Còr de la Plana, a group from Marseilles who sing in Occitan.
A bit nearer to home is the group The Voice Squad from Ireland singing Banks of the Bann.
And now – as they say – for something completely different: a Native American powwow.
Next up is an example of solo male singing. The famous Welsh song Myfanwy is usually sung by male voice choirs in harmony, but here is a Mal Buck singing solo in a Tonyrefail pub.
One of my favourite male singing traditions is that of trallalero – a polyphonic folk tradition from Genoa, Italy. I’m determined to work out an arrangement at some point so I can teach some of the songs!
Here are some men from Lesotho in Southern Africa singing a Basotho song.
Punting in Japan – yes, it’s a thing! Here is a Japanese man singing traditional songs while he steers his flat bottomed boat along a gorge in northern Japan.
Estonia has a long and fine singing tradition going back centuries. This is a Seto song from south-eastern Estonia. There are approximately 15,000 Setos around the world. The BBC have collected a series of photos of Seto in traditional costume.
And finally, since it’s nearly Christmas, here is a traditional French carol from the late 15th Century (Noël Nouvelet) sung by the BYU Idaho Men’s Choir.
Do let me know if you come across any great examples of men singing and I’ll share them in Part 5.