Singing
Do you like singing? Do you often sing? Have you ever learned how to sing? Who do you want to sing for? Do you think singing can bring happiness to people? When do you like to sing?
Vocabulary
  • Choir (noun) - a group of people who sing together.
  • Opera (noun) - a musical play in which most of the words are sung, or plays and music of this type.
  • Tone-deaf (adj.) - someone who is tone-deaf is not able to recognize different notes or sing tunes accurately.
  • Harmony (noun) - a pleasant musical sound made by different notes being played or sung at the same time.
  • To harmonize (verb) - to add harmonies to a tune.
  • Out of tune - singing or playing notes that are at the wrong pitch (= level) or that do not agree with others being sung or played.
  • In tune - singing or playing notes that are at the right pitch (= level) or that agree with others being sung or played
  • Rhythm (noun) - a strong pattern of sounds, words, or musical notes that is used in music, poetry, and dancing
  • Gospel (noun) - a style of religious music originally performed by black Americans.
  • Let alone - used after a negative statement to emphasize how unlikely a situation is because something much more likely has never happened.
  • Upbeat (adj.) - upbeat music is fast and often sounds happy.
  • Baroque (adj.) - relating to the heavily decorated style in buildings, art, and music that was popular in Europe in the 17th century and the early part of the 18th century.
  • Range (noun) - all the musical notes that a singer can sing or a musical instrument is able to produce.
  • Vocal cords (plural noun) - a pair of folds at the upper end of the throat whose edges move quickly backward and forwards and produce sound when air from the lungs moves over them.
Questions and answers
M: Rory, do you like singing?

R: Well, if it's done by professionals like choir singers or opera singers, then I'll listen. But if we're talking about me, then absolutely not, I'm completely tone-deaf.

M: Do you often sing?

R: Not really. And if I ever do it, it will be obvious why? Because I can't really hold a tune or remember the lyrics, to be honest with you. We used to do it school, though. And it was nice when everybody harmonized.

M: Have you ever learned how to sing?

R: Not that I can recall. But if I had more time in the future for it, then I might. Oh, well, actually, that's not true. We did it at school, of course. Although to be honest with you, I was always out of tune when I did it by myself.

M: Who do you want to sing for?

R: Well, ideally, no one. But if I have to, then I'll be doing it for a private audience, and they'll have ear defenders on. I did try singing karaoke ones. But that didn't end well for anybody. It sounded like I was swinging a bag of cats around.

M: Do you think singing can bring happiness to people?

R: Well, if it's in tune, and the words are positive, and it's got, like a happy rhythm or beat to it. Something like gospel music for example.

M: When do you like to sing?

R: Well, I won't if I'm the one making that decision. I don't really like the sound of my own voice in general, let alone when I sing. I think I used to sing in the shower, but obviously, no one's able to hear that, are they?

M: What kinds of songs do you like to sing?

R: If it's a good day, then it'll be something upbeat, well, like rock music, for example. But if it's not then something gentle and calm, like, oh, like baroque music, for example.

M: Is it difficult to sing well?

R: Well, if we're talking about me, then the answer will be a definite yes. And, well, probably if we're talking in general as well. Um, singing is a skill and you have to work on it. I think opera singers spend years working on their range, don't they?

M: Do you want to be a singer?

R: If there's one thing I'll never be, it's a singer. I think my vocal cords are closer to, oh, I don't know, cheese strings rather than violin strings.

M: Thank you, Rory, for your answers! They were music to our ears!
Discussion
M: Don't stop me now, and I'm having such a good time. I'm having a ball. The Queen

R: You're having a ball with that song. I'm not. I'm not singing along. I can't sing.

M: Don't stop me now. Come on, Rory, give us a tune. Come on. Maybe it was like a song. No, no, you sang for me, right before this episode. Come on.

R: When did I sing?

M: Right before the episode. We were discussing what the soundtrack for this episode is going to be. And you said, you were kind of...

R: That's how I sound when I sing. What's a good song? I don't know any good songs. But I do know a lot about vocabulary and grammar. Let's talk about that.

M: Choir, is pronounced as choir not... Because it's written like, no, no, it's written like this. So it's crazy. But you say choir, right? It's not choir, not choir. Choir. And choir is this. So you can say I like singing if it's done by professional choirs or opera singers.

R: Are there different kinds of opera singers? Like soprano is an opera singer, isn't it?

M: Yeah, yeah. Different kinds of voices. Yeah. But Rory is tone-deaf. Oh, poor you.

R: Well, I'm not really tone deaf, but it's just another way of saying like, I'm rubbish at singing and, you know, following music.

M: Yeah. So you can say I'm bad at singing. I'm completely tone-deaf. Deaf is like you can't hear anything. But tone deaf - you don't distinguish between these little tones. You sing out of tune, yeah, all the time.

R: But that just means that I'm not singing in a consistent manner or in a manner that's consistent with the music.

M: And you also said I can't hold a tune.
R: But that's the same thing. Being in tune and holding the tune is like continuing to do it.

M: So I can't sing. I can't hold a tune. Is it an expression... For example, in Russian, we have this "a bear stepped on my ear". I think. Do you have something like in English, like, somebody stepped on your ear, that's why you can't really sing and you can't really understand music.

R: I think it's just called being rubbish at singing.

M: I'm rubbish at singing. And then you can say, I used to sing at school, and I enjoyed when everyone harmonized.

R: Yeah, that's when everyone's got the same... Oh, I'm gonna I'm gonna really mangle this explanation. But it's like, if you and I were to sing together, we would be harmonized if we had the same tone, or like we were on the same beat together. And we were doing the same thing at the same time.

M: Yeah, we should just imagine our beat, like make it up, like Success with IELTS, Success with IELTS.

R: Should we do that now? Success with IELTS.

M: Success with IELTS.

R: Success with IELTS. That's, that's not harmonized at all. So there's an example of what it doesn't sound like.

M: Yeah, so we are completely tone-deaf.

R: We're just rubbish. Like, coming up with beats on the fly.

M: We can't hold a tune. So dear listener, if you are creative, and if you can sing well, please let us know. And we can sing this Success with IELTS thing together with you. You can also say I was really out of tune, right? So I was really out of tune when I used to sing at school.
R: So you're in tune when you're doing it right. And you're out of tune when you're not doing it right. And you're holding a tune when you're continuing to do it right.

M: I did it at school. So I did singing at school, but I was completely out of tune. So what do you say, I sang at school? So I am singing now. But at school, in the past, I sang.

R: Yes.

M: Or what do you say? I used to sing? Or I did the singing?

R: I did the singing. It's more like the singing did me because I was completely rubbish at it.

M: No, but can you say I did singing?

R: I did singing, yes. Not I did the singing. Maybe if you're in a band, you could say like I do the singing, or I do the vocals. And we talked about vocals, vocal cords. So vocal cords are strings that vibrate in your throat when air passes through them and you produce sounds this way.

M: Band nine.

R: Vocal cords is definitely a band nine phrase for sure.

M: Yeah, yeah. Vocal cords. And what can we say about these vocal cords? My vocal cords are not developed, so I can't see well.

R: My vocal cords don't... Like are just inadequate for singing. I think because I used the word range there. And the range describes like how high and how low your voice can go. So for certain singers, they have like a very wide range. And for others, they have a very narrow range of sounds they can make. I think that's how it works anyway. So you can be said to be working on your range if you sing professionally or if you're learning to sing.

M: Who do you usually sing for? You can say I prefer to sing for a private audience.

R: Yes, but that just means not for the public. It's singing is not for public consumption. Well, especially not mine.
M: Yeah, so maybe you sing in the shower. I prefer to sing in the shower, on my own, for a private audience. And once I tried karaoke.

R: Karaoke, karaoke. It's a Japanese word, I think. Originally.

M: Yeah, it is, it is. And what do we say, we go to karaoke, we sing karaoke, we do karaoke?

R: All of them. But I said I did karaoke. And again, I didn't do karaoke. Karaoke did me. And I did a number on the ears of the people listening to me.

M: And then Rory made a really funny joke. He said that my singing sounded like swinging a bag of cats.

R: I don't think that's the exact idiom. I think it's strangling cuts. But in my head. I just had this image of these cats going crazy. And that was what I said.

M: Can you imagine cats going crazy and doing this... In the spring. And this is how Rory sings. But Rory can dance.

R: I cannot dance.

M: I've seen Rory dancing, he's pretty, you know, he's cool with his moves.

R: I would point out, what Maria is describing is me bobbing back and forth at like two o'clock in the morning in a club in Moscow surrounded by drunk people that's not dancing. That's me trying to survive.

M: Yeah, only once we did go clubbing with Rory after some shots of juice. Special juice. Singing can bring happiness to people. And Rory said if it's in tune, again, if you are in tune, if the singer is in tune, and the words are positive, right? And also you mentioned gospel music. Here you can give examples of different music. For example, gospels sound like this:
R: Gospel music, it's from the south in America. It's traditionally sung by African Americans, although I think really anybody could sing it now, but it's to do with all racial oppression in the South and other great things like that. Anyway, moving swiftly on, that's the kind of music, but when we talked about the words, we could also talk about the lyrics because lyrics are the words to a song.

M: You can say, I don't like the sound of my voice. So the sound of my voice, and then let alone when I sing. So let alone and also, you know, and what's more, I hate when I sing. I used to do it in the shower, or I sometimes do it in the shower. Yeah, like who doesn't?

R: Well, I don't anymore. I don't want to frighten the neighbours.

M: When we talk about kinds of songs. You can say I prefer something upbeat. So upbeat is something like hey, you know, like funny, jolly, bright. So something like upbeat music.

R: There's a Scottish one. Oh, it's Scotland The Brave. Of course.

M: Yeah. How does it go? How does it go, Rory? Could you sing?

R: Hark when the night is falling
Hear! Hear the pipes are calling,
Loudly and proudly calling,
Down thro' the glen. I'm not singing the rest of it. But that is Scotland The Brave, which is a candidate for Scotland's national anthem when it becomes independent. Not if, when?

M: Sweet. You see, Rory does have the voice.

R: I don't have the voice. I'm reading the lyrics from the song and I only read what, like let's say there's four, I only read 12 words there.

M: That's singing, that's fine. And dear listener, what kinds of songs do you usually sing? Maybe something from Adele or Britney Spears? Or Queen, the Beatles? What do you prefer? You have to work at it. So you have to work at developing singing as a skill.

R: Is there a difference between working at something and working on something?

M: You're the native speaker, you tell me.
R: I think so, I think if you work at something then it's harder, if you're working on something, you're still developing it, but working at something implies more force, in my opinion.

M: And when opera singers work on their range, so they work on their, you know, vocal cords, right? So how they sound.

R: We're just throwing around these words now. I have no idea. Like we used the words beat and rhythm. And I don't know the difference between those things.

M: Yeah, so if you are a singer or a professional musician, we are very sorry, we might have misused some terms. And yeah...

R: Well, we say we, I mean, it's really me.

M: It's Rory, yeah.

R: But just goes to show, you can just throw around these words. Just showing that you have a vague idea of what they mean. They're connected to music and the examiner will be happy. They're probably not a music teacher.

M: But you use the good one, violin strings.

R: Yeah. I screwed up that comparison though, because I said like my vocal cords are closer to cheese strings, the violin strings, which doesn't create a great image in your head of what my vocal cords look like. I should have said dental floss. And on that note, let's bring this episode to a close.

M: Don't stop me now. I'm having such a good time. I'm having a ball. Thank you very much, Queen, for this song. That's one of my favourite songs. The link is going to be in the description. And like don't stop me now. And they used a very nice phrase "we are having a ball". So to have a ball is to have fun, is to have a good time. So we hope that you did, our dear listener, have a ball with us and this episode. Thank you very much for listening!

R: We'll see you next time! Bye!

M: Bye!
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