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Tim
English accents when speaking vs singing
OK, this is something that I have wondered about for a while. If you compare the speaking accents of English speakers from America to those from the United Kingdom or Australia and then compare the singing accent of both of them, the singing accent is very very similar–I think that’s obvious. To me what’s interesting is that the singing accent appears to be much much closer to the American pronunciation. Almost all of the distinctive elements of British or Australian pronunciation compared to American English seem to be gone when singing. In some ways you could say this makes the American pronunciation more boring because it doesn’t have those interesting elements of British or Australian pronunciation.

Has anyone else noticed this? Can anyone explain why this happens?

May 15, 2020 2:16 PM
Comments · 6
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July 25, 2020
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July 25, 2020
Thanks, walkabout that’s very interesting indeed. My suspicion was that it wasn’t because of intentional training to try sound more neutral. Especially because of what you mention, Toby, that the same thing happens in choirs and casual singing.
May 15, 2020
Yes, I have noticed it.. There are technical linguistic reasons for this, but here is a quick explanation:
"...a song’s melody cancels out the intonations of speech, followed by the beat of the music cancelling out the rhythm of speech. Once this takes place, singers are forced to stress syllables as they are accented in the music, which forces singers to elongate their vowels. Singers who speak with an accent, but sing it without, aren’t trying to throw their voice to be deceptive or to appeal to a different market; they are simply singing in a way that naturally comes easiest, which happens to be a more neutral way of speaking, which also just so happens to be the core of what many people consider an “American” accent."

Here's a link to the whole article, if you're interested in a more detailed explanation: http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/08/why-british-singers-lose-their-accent-when-singing/
May 15, 2020
I have also noticed this. I have spoken to a friend of mine who is a professional singer and he said it comes down a lot to training. If someone has had singing lessons they are often taught certain ways of singing that comes into a more middle ground which often sounds more mainstream and American, likely due to the popularity of american artists in modern popular music.

You will often find front men in bands do not do this like the previously mentioned Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys. They have often just formed a band and started singing and gone along with it.

The same thing often happens when you sing in a choir. The accent is removed.

Just my thinking on it. Very interesting topic.
May 15, 2020
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Tim
Language Skills
English, Hindi, Spanish
Learning Language
Hindi, Spanish