Letter spray

Letters – in the form of the elements of the alphabet, rather than those items delivered in ever diminishing quantities by the Royal Mail – have been much on my mind lately.

This might be explained by the increased emphasis placed on my vocal production of letters during my singing lessons.  I previously liked to imagine that, as  a child partly raised by Radio 4 in the 70s, my diction was pretty good when I make the effort – obviously, in normal speech it is rather poorer as quality is sacrificed on the altar of quantity.  There is also a strange temptation when singing to produce some very odd pronunciations: well, there is for me.  How else could one explain my attempt to rhyme ‘mountain’ with ‘rain’ (especially given that the relevant rhyming word, in the song that was suffering my extraordinary rendition at the time, was ‘fountain’)?  However, even when avoiding this particular group of pitfalls (I blame an inate tendency to over-act), there are definite issues with my diphthongs.  The letter ‘O’ seems most problematic – in its ‘əʊ’ phoneme (as in Hove, actually) my mouth tends to the wrong shape and when joined to other vowels an unwanted ‘W’ joins the party.  I also have a problem when a word ends with a final voiced consonant when, unless assiduously monitored, my voice tends to reduce pitch – though this is perfectly acceptable in normal speech.  Assuming this tendency is common in the general population, would requiring all sentences by an Australian speaker to end in a voiced consonant compensate for the rising pitch which otherwise transforms their every utterance into a question?  I feel this is crying out for an experiment –  I just need to find someone (or better somemany) from Oz willing to participate…

Thinking about letters and singing (in its broadest possible context) led me to ponder the spellings used by many of our current popular music performers in their stage names or the titles of their compositions…

It has been long established that the letter ‘K’ is funny, though to my shame I am unable to name the scientist whose pioneering work led to this discovery.  In addition to its contribution to the world of comedy, it seems to have almost entirely replaced the letter ‘C’ in the monikers used by artists in the genres of hip-hop and R&B (and probably many others with which I am even less familiar).  In a similar fashion, the always voiced letter ‘Z’ has replaced the only sometimes voiced ‘S’.  The letter ‘X’ is also popular: sometimes replacing ‘KS’ or ‘CKS’ or appearing in its own right, but without the usual bodyguard provided by ‘E’ or ‘E’ and ‘C’.  Perhaps this is a further manifestation of the very low regard in which the letter ‘C’ is held by this particular ‘musical’ community.

So, K(5), X(8) and Z(10): good; C(3), E(1), and S(1): bad.  I think there is only one conclusion we can draw: viz, that these modern artists are Scrabble addicts always striving for a higher word score.  I would also anticipate high usage of Q(10) and J(8) (and perhaps use of pink and pale blue squares?) – but sadly my knowledge of the relevant musical genres is too limited to know if this is the case (and, frankly, I am unwilling to suffer in the name of research to fully confirm my hypothesis).  Can any of the legions of MOBO fans who read GofaDM help?

And the title?  A gratuitous pun – though I do like to think of you as my flock and this blog as a form of preaching.  Sadly for you, unlike a traditional sermon, my posts are not normally limited to one a week.


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