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Music 144

MUSC 143:144 DICTION FOR SINGERS Catalog Entry MUSC143:144. Diction for Singers Two hours laboratory (1:1). Co-requisite: Applied Voice. English, Italian, French, German and Latin diction for singers, including an overview of basic grammar and vocabulary.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

This course is for voice students who are concurrently enrolled in applied voice. It focuses on learning correct singing diction in English, Italian, Latin, German and French through the learning and use of the International Phonetic Alphabet. Students will learn to use the International Phonetic Alphabet in which one symbol stands for a single sound, to "translate" pronunciation in each of the five languages studied from the orthographic letters into the IPA, applying this usage to performance of standard and contemporary art song repertoire.

First Semester (Mus 143)

A. Learning the International Phonetic Alphabet

        1. Classification of Vowels a. varying tongue and lip positions in forming closed (long) and     open (short) from front to middle to back

b. relative positions for each of the vowels in English, Italian, French, German and Latin c. vowels that are unique to each of English, Italian, French, German and Latin

2. Classification of Consonants

a. voice and unvoiced

b. fricatives, labials, plosives, linguals, velars, nasals, dentals, gutturals and various combinations

c. how they change or modify in each of the five languages

d. consonants unique to German

B. Singing in English 1. the 22 vowel sounds (16 pure and 6 diphthongs) 2. silent letters

a. spelled, not sounded (hour, wrong, know)

b. sounded, not spelled (one=won, union=yunion)

3. division of syllables in song

a. different division in spelling and sounding

4. the two kinds of "r"

a. rules of usage

b. when to omit

5. the [y] -- vowel or consonant?

6. when to separate words for clarity

a. words ending in vowels

b. words having different meanings if not separated (bright/eyes, not bright ties)

7. diphthongs, triphthongs


a. u" or "ew" pronounced "yu" after consonants appearing in the above words

9. stressed and unstressed syllables

10. affected, phoney v. natural, prolonged

C. Singing in Ecclesiastical Latin

1. the five vowels (omits the Italian e and o)

2. diphthongs and glides

3. consonants

D. Singing in Italian

1. the five vowels plus e and o

2. diphthongs, triphthongs and glides

3. consonants - single and double, voiced, unvoiced

4. syllable stress rules

5. use of accents - grave and acute

6. elisions and liaisons Second Semester (Mus 144)

E. Review of the IPA

F. Singing in German

1. vowels plus umlauts

a. closed and open; long and short

2. diphthongs and glides (ai, ei, au, eu, etc.)

3. consonants

a. all written consonants are pronounced

b. lengthening the double consonants

c. voiced and unvoiced

d. consonants unique to German

G. Singing in French

1. vowels

a. the two "ahs"

b. the neutral (sounded and silent)

2. nasals unique to French

3. the "y" - compare to German umlaut

4. glides

5. consonants

a. use of CAREFUL

6. elision and liaison In addition to using the IPA, all of the above will be illustrated with appropriate musical/textual examples.

The required textbook is DICTION FOR SINGERS by Wall, Caldwell, Gavilanes & Allen (pub Pst...Inc., Dallas). The supplementary textbook is INTERNATIONAL PHONETIC ALPHABET FOR SINGERS by Wall (pub Pst...Inc., Dallas). Additional reference texts include: • DICTION: ITALIAN, LATIN, FRENCH, GERMAN... "the sounds and 81 exercises for singing them" - John Moriarty • THE SINGER'S MANUAL OF ENGLISH DICTION - Madeleine Marshall • TO SING IN ENGLISH: A Guide to Improved Diction - Dorothy Uris • TRIPPINGLY ON THE TONGUE - Mona Swan • PHONETICS AND DICTION IN SINGING ITALIAN, FRENCH, SPANISH AND GERMAN - Kurt Adler • THE SINGER'S MANUAL OF GERMAN AND FRENCH DICTION - Dr. Richard G. Cox • SINGERS' ITALIAN - Evelina Colorni • ITALIAN DICTION FOR SINGERS - Ralph Errolle • SINGING IN FRENCH - Thomas Grubb • PHONETIC READINGS OF SONGS AND ARIAS - Berton Coffin, et al. • RING OF WORDS - Philip L. Miller • WORD BY WORD, VOL I - Coffin, Singer & Delattre • WORD BY WORD, VOL II- Schoep and Harris • A PRONOUNCING DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN ENGLISH - Kenyon and Knott • COLLINS ITALIAN-ENGLISH DICTIONARY • DICTIONNARIRE DE LA PRONUNCIATION FRANCAISE • CASSELL'S FRENCH DICTIONARY • CASSELL'S GERMAN DICTIONARY • CASSELL'S ITALIAN DICTIONARY


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course will include lecture, demonstration, active study and class performance of appropriate song literature in each of the five languages so that everyone has an individual opportunity to perform and to hear performances. Class participation will include every student being videotaped and/or audiotaped in each of the languages studied, giving a feedback of the "before and after" linguistic accuracy of each student. Musical recordings of diction examples in various languages will be studied and reported upon. Students will participate in class performances of standard art song repertoire in each of the languages studied.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

The student, singer or teacher of singers must be able to pronounce texts with linguistic accuracy and have a basic overview of syntax and grammar as it relates to pronunciation in each of the major languages of singers, i.e., English, Italian, French, German and Latin. It is essential for any singer or teacher of singers to be able to pronounce texts correctly, understandably, with clarity and as little regional accent as possible, not only in foreign languages, but in English as well. Students are expected to gain a general standard of clear pronunciation in each of the five languages. Each student will learn to hear her/his own speech sounds and singing tones and that of others, refining her/his awareness and developing consistent auditory feedback of the linguistic accuracy and clarity of the sung text which equals the fusion and flow of words and music in the art of singing.


Assessment Measures

Testing will include the student's performing phonetically, musically accurate renditions of standard and contemporary art song literature in each of the five languages studied. Students will be expected to use the IPA symbols in written tests of "translation" in each of the five languages studied. Audio and videotape will be used to document the student's progress in linguistic accuracy standards.


Other Course Information


Approval and Subsequent Reviews

DATE ACTION REVIEWED BY February 2006 Reviewed E. Fellin, Chairman