Accents in Music

This is a great wee video by Howard Goodall from 2006 on what accents in music do. Not only because the whole thing seems to have been filmed in some kind of abandoned Victorian hospital/swimming pool, but because we can hear how it’s used in different musical styles too.

Alentejo, Alentejo

Really enjoyed watching this beautiful film by Sérgio Tréfaut, Alentejo, Alentejo, about a Portuguese choral tradition – Cante.


There’s also another short doc made for UNESCO with a bit more information by the same director.


What is our accent?


Everyone has one, and they’re all slightly different. We change them constantly, sometimes consciously but often not. They’re part of how we identify with each other and how we show other people who we want to be identified with.

I change mine all the time, I remember my mum doing it when she answered the phone when I was little, my wife does it when she talks with her mum and Gran. I have a “teaching voice” that I use when lecturing, so that when people don’t understand what I’m talking about at least I know it wasn’t my accent that got in the way.

So what is my accent? What is your accent? And are importantly, what is our accent?

That’s what I’m hoping to find out. Accents have as much to do with listening as they do with speaking, which is why I want this project to start with lots of workshops where we listen to our accents and the stories that they tell.


A woman goes to the dentist and settles down in the chair.

“Comfy?” asks the dentist.

“Govan,” she replies.

Setting off

Accents is underway!

Richy has taken up residence at a wee desk in Tramway’s office, learning about the music making work going on across the city and beginning to devise workshops exploring accents as musical material.