What is singing without the meaning and intent of the words, heightened in emotional and communicative meaning by the music?
At some point, when singers work on a song, they must pull apart the individual sounds of the language—the long train of precise vowels and consonants of each musical phrase. Then, phrase after phrase, they must choreograph their articulators to follow the forms and nuances of the those vowel and consonant chains, up and down the pitch outlines, with precision, inflection, musical expression, and communication. All such effort lies in the realm of diction.
As the most-used textbook for teaching diction, Diction for Singers, 2nd Edition aligns well with this effort, helping singers learn to work precisely through such phrases in six languages—English, Italian, Latin, German, French, and Spanish. They learn the fundamental principles in such a way that they can extrapolate the articulation contours from the words themselves, a unique feature among diction textbooks.
Praised for its clear layout, organization of its material, its “flip-through” to easily find information to get the work done, Diction for Singers serves equally as a reference and text. Each language provides an overview: How does this language differ from English? What sounds or articulation combinations are unique? What are the overarching challenges? Each then presents an at-a-glance chart, which describes the context of each vowel and consonant, a general rule, example word, and reference page for more detail—a remarkably useful reference chart. Then a Special Features section follows, with short essays, rules of pronunciation, and many sample words—like thriphthongs in Italian or mixed vowels in German—that lay out the next level of detail. Then a full dive into each vowel and consonant follows to complete the chapter.
In its second edition, Diction for Singers, 2nd Edition weaves the wisdom of many teachers who’ve taught with it for years and years in classrooms all over the world. The second edition retains all the benefits of the first edition, but clarifies sentences here and there, corrects typos in the language and IPA spellings, and beefs up the English section.
Of course, students must immerse themselves in the sounds, so we developed the online listening labs to accompany the text. These labs allow students to listen to a professional coach and record their own voices, all automatically, without the hassle of clicking start and stop buttons. With such ease in listening to coaches, practicing, and receiving feedback, students enrich their reading knowledge with the sounds themselves, freeing the teacher, who can listen to their lab work and make written and aural comments. Students must also develop the requisite flexibility in their articulators, for which we offer Wall’s companion book the International Phonetic Alphabet for Singers.
With the econd edition, the companion IPA for Singers, and the online listening labs, teaching and learning diction becomes well organized, enjoyable, and valuable for the long term work as singers.