Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday Five: Getting the early country sound

As music therapists, we know that patient preferred music yields the biggest results over time. Our work is based on what we know our clients enjoy. It engages them, encourages participation, and helps to cultivate a healthy therapeutic relationship.

When we prepare music for a client, we put so much time into learning the chords and learning the lyrics. Usually we'll go as far as to memorize a song, even for use in a one-time session. If we are working this hard to please our patients, shouldn't we take it one step further by making our voices sound just as authentic as our music?

When a music therapist has a great handle on sounding like an artist in both music and voice, it is most undeniably apparent in early country music. It is hard to imagine a performance of "Your Cheatin' Heart" or "Coal Miner's Daughter" without an exaggerated country twang. Below, I am listing five techniques for getting that true country sound. These were all things I learned in a guitar repertoire class.

1) Mouth and throat are relaxed.
2) The melody has lots of embellishments and slides between the notes.
3) Voice has a bright, nasally sound ("twang").
4) Guitar plays an alternating bass strum and dotted rhythms.
5) Guitar plays a "boom-chick" or down-down-up-down-up-down strum.

To practice, listen carefully to early country recordings. Record yourself to see how closely you can authenticate artists like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, and Patsy Cline.

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