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Signing Video Notes

17 August 2015

A note from Paul about signing the Friday Afternoons songs

These signed videos of Nico Muhly's Friday Afternoon songs are primarily in British Sign Language (BSL). In BSL the focus is on the meaning so you'll notice that what you sing may not be the same as what you sign.

In addition, I aim to show musical elements such as rhythm and volume.

I have tried to make these signed versions as simple and accessible as possible as I realise that many of you may not have sign language skills. Please respect the language: signed song is not a gimmick but something that uses an actual language.

Be aware that signs can vary from region to region, just as spoken language does. If you can find someone local who knows BSL to check on regional variation, great. The bottom line with any signed song should be, "If a BSL user is watching, can they understand me?" If not, then it's back to the drawing board!

Along with the actual signs, your posture, where you place the signs, your facial expressions and your eyes have to be considered. It seems a lot to take in but it's honestly not that hard and well worth the effort.

If you have any queries please contact me either direct on paul@paulwhittaker.org.uk or via the Friday Afternoons office. Please note that these songs are my own interpretation. Some of the lyrics are quite straightforward, whilst others are more challenging.


About Paul

Paul Whittaker was born in Huddersfield in 1964 and has been deaf all his life. He has a music degree from Wadham College, Oxford and and post-graduate performance diploma from the RNCM, and for 27 years ran the charity "Music and the Deaf."

For many years he signed major musical shows across the UK and has also appeared at the Proms, Edinburgh International Festival and worked with The Sixteen choir, Rambert Dance and the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. For the past three years he has been working with Leif Ove Andsnes and Mahler Chamber Orchestra on their Beethoven Journey which included events in Hong Kong, Prague, Lucerne and Bonn.

In 2007 he was awarded an OBE for services to music, and holds Honorary Doctorates from the University of Huddersfield and the Open University.

Paul now works freelance and is delighted to be returning to Aldeburgh, having signed the original Britten "Friday Afternoon" songs and a performance of "Noye's Fludde" during the centenary celebrations two years ago.