Monday, June 14, 2021

Honouring the song 5: who wrote or arranged the song?

I’ve written before that even if it’s a folk song, somebody wrote it.


The identity of that individual may have been lost over time, but to honour the song, you still have the responsibility to try to find out who it was.

Monday, June 07, 2021

Honouring the song 4: what is the cultural and historical context of the song?

Just because we can sing a song, doesn’t mean that we should sing it.

It is important to honour the cultural and historical origins of a song so we know whether it’s appropriate to sing it in a different context or not.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Honouring the song 3: can you teach or perform the song accurately?

When using songs from cultures different to ours, we have the responsibility to teach or perform them as accurately as we can.


We honour the song by being as authentic as possible when pronouncing the words, and reproducing the melody and harmonies.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Honouring the song 2: what does the song mean?

When you learn a song — especially if it’s by ear — you take on trust what you’re told about the song’s meaning. This is particularly relevant if the song is in a foreign language.


But meaning is a slippery thing. Incorrect meanings get passed on like Chinese whispers. Some inexperienced song teachers even make stuff up if they’re not sure (see Bele mama from last week’s post).

Monday, May 17, 2021

Honouring the song 1: where does the song come from?

When honouring the origins of any song, you need to be as precise as you can about where the song came from.


It might be hard to find out, but there is no excuse for being lazy and saying something like “This song is from Africa.” Here are some things to consider when tracing a song’s origins.

Monday, May 10, 2021

How to honour the source of a song (and why it’s important)

Many songs get handed down by ear and labelled ‘traditional’ without any clear understanding of where they come from.

It’s important to honour the source of all songs and the cultures they originate from. Here’s a guide to the things that you need to consider.

Monday, May 03, 2021

Even if all your singers are vaccinated, there are still risks

There has been some talk of insisting that singers are vaccinated before they can attend choir.

Not only is this problematic, but even if all your singers are vaccinated, there are still risks involved.