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West Midlands Barbershop Harmony Club

Submitted by John Eardley on Tue, 29/03/2016 - 11:46

Originally Submitted by George Badland on Mon, 03/12/2015

By the way before I start, can I tell you that John Grant once pointed out to me that the word lyric, is both singular and plural. So, one should never ever need to use the word 'lyrics' when speaking of a particular song.


Anyway. what I really wanted to talk about was the message contained within the lyric.


Any song that is worth it's salt, has to tell a story doesn't it? I mean isn't that the whole purpose of a songs we sing, to tell a story? 


Now, if you want to do justice to the message of the song, and unless you do you shouldn't be singing it in the first place, you absolutely must do all you can to convey an accurate interpretation of the words and meaning of the story.


In order to do that, you must firstly decide which words are important to the story and which ones are less important. Only then do you have a hope of getting across to your audience the message you should be attempting to convey.


The more I learn about this barbershop hobby of ours, the more I hear about the requirement to get into the lyric and about letting the audience know what you are singing about. It's a bit like painting a picture. A stick type sketch is unlikely to be able to convey the type of beautiful message that say, a Rembrant painting will convey, because it will not contain those tiny nuances that such masters are able to add to their paintings.


Each and every word in the lyric has been put there and no doubt in many cases agonised over, by the lyricist in order for the performer to be able to understand  the message.


I suppose we more often tend to think that the music is the most important aspect, and to some extent that is true on a purely individual level. But without the words, we have nothing to sing about. A performance of la, la's however great the music, wouldn't get many votes.


So the message is, think about the words you are singing and do your best to convey the lyricist's message intentions when he wrote them. Try to convey to your audience your involvement with the story. 


There is one thing for certain.Whatever message you do convey, the audience will get it.
One word of caution. Be carefull when  you get into the ljyric, particularly a ballad type lyric, that you remain in control of your emotions. This is not easy for some to do as I know from personal experience.