My whole life I’ve loved singing and listening to music in multiple languages. I was lucky enough to have siblings who gave me records by singers such as Françoise Hardy and Edith Piaf, and then in high school I started listening to rock and alternative rock in other languages, especially French (which I was studying) and German. I was simultaneously learning how to convey the meaning of words to an audience through my own singing with my high school choir and chamber singers. Even though I’m a native English speaker, I have always enjoyed communicating in other languages too. Trying to understand what song lyrics (and poetry) mean in any language makes life more fun, and it’s something I get to do a lot as a professional singer.
I’ve noticed that sometimes people have an aversion to (or a fear of) learning new languages, or they don’t like a specific language; with this blog I hope to encourage others to overcome that. I plan to look at aspects of language and how to draw simple inferences from context, at how singing in other languages can expand the reach of the music we do, at musical and cultural worlds that might be new to us and how they might connect with what’s familiar, and much more. I also want this to be a source for nonsingers who just want to expand their listening options—there’s so much out there!
I’m starting this for a class I’m taking in public musicology/ethnomusicology for my graduate degree, but it’s the outgrowth of a lifetime of listening to and singing in many different languages and genres of music, and I hope you will enjoy it!