Articulation in Singing

Manuel Garica

A singer who is not understood, wearies his auditors, and destroys almost all the effect of the music, by obliging them to make continual effort to catch the sense of the words.

Garcia, Manuel. Treatise on The Art of Singing, page 42.

2021 marks the second year of my three year project that I have affectionately named “The Lilli Lehmann Project”. Lilli Lehmann writes in her book “How to Sing”:

No letter, no syllable ought to be pronounced badly.

Lehmann, Lilli. How to Sing, page 279.

Here is a playlist I have assembled on Spotify of pupils of Anna Schoen-Rene, a friend and colleague of Lilli Lehmann as well as “descendant”, vocally speaking, of Porpora. In this playlist you will hear example after example of fine pronunciation. I especially love the Bass, Paul Robeson.

Here is a rough sketch of Porpora’s “descendants”. Incredible singers with first class pronunciation. Many of these singers wrote singing books which teach us how to pronounce well.

My whiteboard from Porpora to the Present Day…

These old singing books are still 100% relevant today. For example, Garcia reminds us on page 44 of “The Art of Singing” not to be negligent of the final consonant. Here is a simple folk song in which I am trying my hardest to remember to pronounce the final consonants. To use Garcia’s words, I am often guilty of neglecting final consonants!

Published by Deborah Wai Kapohe

I am a classical singer and guitarist. I have created a project called 'The Lilli Lehmann Project'. The project, lasting from 2020 until 2023, aims to refresh my voice and prepare me to be a singing teacher. The scope of the project is that I am studying Lilli Lehmann's singing book, bibliography, recordings and her reviews, as well as other historical vocal pedagogy. I have chosen this platform in order to blog about my discoveries, demonstrate techniques and exercises, and perform pieces of music. I have done so because I wish to be transparent. I think that if a student is prepared to learn from me then I should stand up to public scrutiny.

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