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February 20, 2007 10:53 PM   Subscribe

Singing in Spanish filter: I need some feedback, por favor!

Ok, so I'm auditioning with a jazz quartet for a regular gig at a fancy resort hotel. The pianist wants a bunch of latin numbers and wants me to do "Besame Mucho." I prefer singing songs with their original lyrics sometimes, so I've been trying to memorize the spanish lyrics. I grew up in San Diego so my pronunciations aren't horrible (especially compared to Carmen McRae's version -- yikes!) but I definitely want some feedback before I go much further with it. I want to make sure that if Spanish-speaking people hear me do this song that it sounds NICE to them & they aren't going to be mocking my accent or that I mispronounced something. When I sing I'm supposed to be telling a story, so I want to make sure I'm stressing certain words to accent the emotions of the lyrics for anyone who understands them. I have been using this translation as a guide.

First, here is an mp3 of me singing it a capella at a slower pace. Any words you think I should definitely stress or not stress? Is it sounding somewhat conversational & not forced?

I may be asked to do the song faster too, so here's a sample of that. Does it sound like I'm rushing it & don't know what I'm saying? I do want it to sound like I'm actually telling the story.

Lastly, on the line "Piensa que tal vez mañana yo ya estaré Lejos, muy lejos de ti." I notice some people pronounce it "yo ya" but others pronounce it "jo ja"... which one do you think I should stick with?

Muchas gracias! :)
posted by miss lynnster to Writing & Language (15 answers total)
Best answer: It sounds great! My only quick tip is that you, like most English speakers pronounce the 'd' like a 'd' when it is much softer that in Spanish - a 'th' sound is actually closer. This is most prominent when you are singing 'perderte' - too consonanty - should be a more whispered 'pertherte'

As for 'yo ya' and 'jo ja' just pick one and stick with it. I think they both sound fine. Just stick with one - that is don't change it around within the song.
posted by vacapinta at 11:39 PM on February 20, 2007

The "jo ja" is usually only so pronounced in Argentine Spanish, maybe some other variants. For Mexicans, and Spaniards, its more "yo ya."

And you sound wonderful! Good luck!
posted by wilky at 11:48 PM on February 20, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, good point! I was trying to do the "th" sound but it's still a little hard, I do think you're right. I'm taking Arabic right now and there are a few different "th" sounds in that, so I'm starting to forget which ones go with which language. :)

And I was doing "jo ja" but maybe since I'm in California I should stick with "yo ya." A lot more people from Mexico here, after all.

posted by miss lynnster at 12:07 AM on February 21, 2007

You're doing just fine with what you've got already. Your pronunciation is solid. There are many variations on proper pronunciacion within all of the Spanish dialects, so as long as you don't have a brutally American accent (which you don't), Spanish speaking listeners could hear that and easily take you for, say, Ecuadorian or Costa Rican.

But I would definitely go with "yo ya" instead of "jo ja", which is uniquely Argentinean.

Plus, with musical accompaniment and the song's melody, it will be hard to detect your accent at all. Singing does that for some reason. When Shakira sings in English, no accent -- but have you heard her speak?

Good luck!
posted by wetpaint at 1:23 AM on February 21, 2007

Very nice, señorita lynnster. Just chiming in to echo what is already said above. No one will be mocking your accent. Unless you're going for the Uruguayan/Argentine thing, stick with "yo ya."

As for the d and t sound, in English your tongue would be on the roof of your mouth, just behind your upper teeth. For Spanish, put just the tip of your tongue in between your teeth. Does that make any sense?

posted by veggieboy at 6:36 AM on February 21, 2007

Best answer: Very good. Apart from what other people have said, I also noticed that a couple of times instead of saying "mucho", it sounded more like "musho", so be careful with the "ch" and "sh" sounds.

Oh, and also be careful that you don't say "beme" instead of "same".

Great singing!
posted by CrazyLemonade at 7:02 AM on February 21, 2007

Me again to ask: have you heard the Luis Miguel version of Bésame Mucho? He has a very clear voice and enunciation and it could be easy to practice with that.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 7:06 AM on February 21, 2007

Best answer: hey there, miss lynnster. Before anything, let me tell you it's really cool to hear you singing in Spanish.

Now, some little details:

a) you do say "besamay" try to keep the last "e" as a single vowel, like the first "e" in "entering"

b) "muchou": sometimes you say "muchou", sometimes you say "mucho" you might wanna practice the one without the extra "u"

c) "lejos". You say "lehos", the sound should be a bit raspier.

Now, a little note. There is some certain appeal to the "accented singing". It certainly earned Nat King Cole the love of many a gal back in the day. Some people can't stand it (the photographer of my band, for instance, who wants to kill greg, the vocalist when he sings in Spanish) some people are fools for it (my mother, for instance, who thinks that greg, should sing all the Spanish songs in my band when there is a Mexican who sings as well). But you are definitely doing it right already. The above suggestions are just in case the pianist is a bit uptight.
posted by micayetoca at 7:17 AM on February 21, 2007

Also, an alternative to Luis Miguel, there is no need to torture yourself while practicing.
posted by micayetoca at 7:28 AM on February 21, 2007

and one little thing aside from the subject, now that I got your attention: are you planning on coming back to MetaFilter Music? you are missed around there.
posted by micayetoca at 7:32 AM on February 21, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all of the feedback! This was really good! Those were exactly the little details I was needing... I know my pronunciation isn't horrible but I want it to be better than "not horrible." ;)

As far as acccented singing, I'm known to be a lyrically based singer so that's part of my job... I want to tell the story and accent things (as opposed to singers who just like to hear themselves hit notes). So if that's working... cool!

Promise I'll be back on MeMu... I'll be recording some practice sessions this week so I'll have more to post.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:46 AM on February 21, 2007

Response by poster: Oh... and dare I ask what "beSÁme" means? 'Cuz I dunno...
posted by miss lynnster at 9:28 AM on February 21, 2007

just that the pronounciation means the stress is on the BE not the A, beSAme doesn't have any unintended meaning don't worry, you sounded good all the points I would have said are already said so go wow them.
posted by Wilder at 9:44 AM on February 21, 2007

Response by poster: Oh ok... that's good. 'Cuz I'd hate to find out that a slight mispronunciation meant "kiss my ass" or something... since we're trying to get hired & all. ;)
posted by miss lynnster at 12:01 PM on February 21, 2007

BeSÁme would mean the same: kiss me, but the accent in the middle syllable is only used in some countries (Argentina, Guatemala, and the Spanish speaking Central American countries, for instance)
posted by micayetoca at 2:01 PM on February 21, 2007

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