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  • Writer's pictureSteve

"Coffee, coffee... boy do I need some more coffee!"

In this period of lockdown, we have been given the gift of time. I'm using it to slow my life down and just catch up on things that previously I have not had the opportunity to do. This includes trawling YouTube for funny things. I came across this excerpt from Graham Norton (it's all good but fast forward to 1:03 for where it sparked my post):

And it made me think about how we can tap into Tom Hank's amusing exercise with Tom Holland...

You see... I have long held the opinion (thank you to MY singing teacher: The Great Mr Ian Ray (that's his official name!)) that if you have repetition in a song -find a reason why the writer(s) deemed it necessary to repeat it and then use the repetitions to make it more interesting.

If you're not sure what I mean? Let's take a look at a song where this might actually apply:

Have you heard of a show called "Les Misérables?" Within it, is a beautiful and extremely popular song called "On My Own." Let's look specifically at the end:

Can you see? Eponine (character singing the song) "loves him." I know this because she tells me three times. THREE(!) times! (She must really love him!) Question is... WHY 3 times?

Psh... obviously to hammer the point home. But let's assume (like Mr Hanks says) the writer wants to extract "every possible meaning out of the line." What ways can we do that to make this interesting; to hold the listeners attention and to deepen our interaction with the lyric?

Easy answer: 3 words and 3 repetitions: emphasise a different word on each repetition and thus, subtly change the meaning of the line each time. For example: "I love him... I love him... I love him..." The point of the sentence changes each time. Boom! Sorted.

Any other ways? Well... you could take some artistic license with the tempo of each line. If you sang "I love him" quickly, how might that come across? Panicked? Desperate? And then sang it slower? More definite and assigned? Really slow? Sadness? Finality? Maybe even happy in her love if it was sang warmly.

My point is this... the line is REPEATED. The LINE is repeated. The line IS repeated. and if you want to show real depth of character in your performance, consider the lyric and how many meanings can you draw from it?


Epilogue: Listen to different recordings of "On My Own" and see if you can hear the subtle differences in delivery. Then, decide which one you prefer and let me know!

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