The Joys of Joiking

Reindeer of the Lapland

I’m back!

For those of you who don’t know (or didn’t notice!), after a year of writing every week on the dot, I stopped writing for the last three months. Sure, I’ve had plenty of excuses: moving to a new country, living out of a hotel room for four weeks, being in a small town with no internet café, etc etc, and I must say I quite like living off the grid, but I’ve also missed singing and WRITING about singing!

In the meantime, I’ve been collecting a good number of stories, everything from a spontaneous performance at La Scala (for the tourists in the museum, that is!) to the weeks I spent practicing in a highway underpass, since our hotel room was too small. Today, however, I want to share with you a more recent story, about how I joiked, and how it got me into trouble. Continue reading

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Singing Basics #4: Creating a Tone Model

I was on a motorcycle taxi the other day, practicing some calming breathing exercises as we navigated the busy streets of Bangkok, when my driver decided to be his own radio. He sang luk thung – Thai “country” music – all the way to my apartment. For as far as I was concerned, he could’ve been a “luk thung” star. I thought to myself that if I, with all my opportunities and training, devoted my life to singing “luk thung”, I probably still wouldn’t sound anywhere as good as him.

I’ve noticed this over and over again as I travel the world, and also at home in America. People sing the way that they hear songs sung. Even people who claim to be tone-deaf pick up all sorts of stylistic nuances from the music they grow up with. There is an important lesson in this, and it is: Continue reading