Scat singing is about syllables. It’s also about words.
and being a word-o-phile, I like them.
Norma Winstone knows how to scat words
or just vowel sounds.
you don’t need a lot of boobops and shabaps.
The question is, how much of those words are worked out?
how much is totally improvised?
I suspect that there is a bit of both.
Or maybe a pool of ideas taken from the pool of words of each song and developed over time.
The thing is, you develop your own vocabulary.
of words, sounds, things that feel good and sound good.
So here’s what I did:
I recorded myself singing I Thought About You
and sang a bunch of choruses.
some just scatting to hear the sounds I like-
and some improvising words.
I’d already come up with a few from previous performances.
like clickety-clack clickety-clack…
something about the train going down the track
and something about the whistle.
Much of what I improvised was clumsy, but in the clumsiness were particles of good ideas. You need to record yourself to hear them.
that way you’re not judging and dismissing as you do it.
rather listen with an ear to distill, extract and go mining.
I then took out my notebook and wrote down phrases, words, sounds.
how many ways can I put the words together?
One of my favorite scenes in the Scorcese film about Dylan is of Bob reading a sign. It’s a bunch of rules and conditions and stuff.
he takes each word and puts it with other words from a different part of the sign, creating coherent absurd phrases.
It’s a beautiful insight into his creative process
It’s how you put it all together that counts.
words are just, well, words.
and in the context of a song you have the actual words and melody, and
having stated that, you can then have the story you create about the song.
there’s no whistle, no clickety-clack
in Johnny Mercer’s lyrics
but that doesn’t mean that there can’t be one