Why do accents disappear when people sing?

You can't tell if someone has an accent or not when they're singing. It just doesn't register, even if the person has an outrageous accent. If they talk, however, they sound like they have a raccoon stuffed in their larynx. Why is that? Also, is this the case in other languages as well?
 
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122 IKU
Posted on May. 6th, 2008

It's not really about your accent disappearing, it merely about how you pronounce words. Generally, there is a set way to pronounce any sung word, which professional singers take specific diction classes for whatever language they are singing in. A lot of the time, depending on the note, the vowels are modified so that the sound resonates in a pleasing manner. I saw an operatic soprano a while back who, when she spoke, had a dripping Southern twang. But when she sang, there was no trace of an accent. A lack of accent is very much a sign of a well trained artist.

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208 IKU
Posted on May. 6th, 2008

Music is written with a certain tone that is respected by all professional vocalists. When you give an American vocalist, from lets say Chicago, a piece of music in Latin the person has been trained to do the song justice by learning correct phonetics and pronunciation of the Latin language in order to do it justice. The vocalist is not to step up to sing with his/her Chicago accent, but is expected to be well cultured in the style of music that they are performing. If you go to a Karaoke bar overseas you will not hear our American pop songs sang without accents because most of the people doing Karaoke have not had any vocal training.

There's a really fun video however of an Asian boy that can't be more than 3 years old singing "Hey Jude" by the Beatles on youtube. The child knows nothing of the English language, but has just heard the song so many times that he can make a strong attempt at mimicking the sounds of the words.

Here, i found the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgrrQwLdME8

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109 IKU
Posted on May. 8th, 2008

Accents don't necessarily disapear when people sing. It's more about learning how to pronounce words. As a voice major, I have to take diction courses in French, German, and Italian to learn how to sing in different languages. You don't have to actually speak the language to have good diction, although it helps to.

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2,857 IKU
Posted on May. 6th, 2008

It's because singers learn the perfect pronunciation for the words in the context of the song. In their mind they're just producing a specific sound as accurately as they can in the right pitch.

The same thing happens for english speaking singers when singing in a different language. We can learn to sing songs in foreign languages with perfect pronunciation fairly easily also, but to master an entire spoken language without an accent is a much more difficult task.

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156 IKU
Posted on May. 6th, 2008

It really depends on the background of the singer and how much exposure and training they have for different languages.

Can you imagine the number of countries and different people that cover American Classics? Songs like "The Greatest Love of All," "How Deep Is Your Love," and "My Girl," are always sung.

Take Korean pop for example. One singer by the name Bi/Rain sang "Just Once," in one of his concerts, and you could definitely hear his accent when it came to pronouncing the R.

Filipino artists such as Regine Velaquez can sing in English without any accent at all! Even though most Filipinos have accents when they speak English, the home accent is completely erased when they sing. It's the constant exposure to American culture.

One example that his close to home would be Celine Dion. She was taught to speak in English, and so her French accent can hardly be noticed by American listeners.

It's just exposure, really. The more exposed you are to the linguistic backgrounds of musical intonation, the more you try to accommodate it.

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106 IKU
Posted on May. 7th, 2008

Accents don't always disappear when people sing. Country singers almost always have a certain twang in their voice. I'm a fan of indie rock bands from the United Kingdom and I can usually hear their accent break through when they are singing. I'm sure that most artist choose how they pronounce their words. It depends on what type of sound they want to achieve.

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203 IKU
Posted on May. 6th, 2008

It doesn't always. It always depends on the music and the singer's knowledge of the correct way to pronounce the words. If you're singing in English, and you're singing country music, your accent can stay because the pronunciations aren't as demanding as say, a song in Latin. There's no room for an accent in Latin if you're pronouncing the words correctly.

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