Many singers do not really understand diction and the affect it has on their singing. Have you ever heard someone sing and you question in your mind “ what did they say”? Or even “ why do they sound flat or sharp”? Well guess what? Diction plays apart in all of that. If you are a singer you have to put focus on the way you are saying your words. Diction is vitally important in large group settings such as choirs and praise teams. When you have several people singing the same words at the same time, everyone needs to be saying the words the same way.
Let us pause for a second and give a definition to the word “diction”. The meaning of diction is a saying, expression or word. It is the art of speaking clearly so that every word is plainly understood. This word is often used in conjunction with enunciation or its synonym articulation. When it comes to English diction there are a plethora of rules that might surprise you when it comes to everyday singing.
Many English words include letters that are spelled but not sounded. We also have words with consonants that are sounded but not spelled. We know about silent letters, but what about those consonants that are sounded but we do not see them? Take the word “one” for example. It’s spelled with an “O”, but It’s pronounced, “won”. The w is not there but we say it.
Think back to my previous blogs where I talked about having an open throat. When it comes to diction clear singing equals easy singing. As a singer once you adjust the way you sing words singing will be a breeze and tone production will be improved.
I want to start this series off by talking about the rules for omitting the letter R in English diction when it comes to singing. There are three basic rules for omitting and sounding the letter R. I like these three simple rules because it helps singers control their sound.
Never sing the letter R before a consonant:
I want you to say the word charm in two ways- first the way you normally say it, then with no r (chahm). Now if you sing the word without the r with an open throat, it comes out easier.
Do not sing the letter R before a pause:
A pause would be considered as a spot that you would breathe or come to a stop. Omitting the r before a pause results in good tone and naturalness. Try saying the phrase “ when life is over,” with and without the r (ovah). Try singing the phrase, does it feel different at all? There is one exception to this rule and that is when a diphthong or triphthong is followed by a pause. An example of a diphthong is “dear” and of triphthong is “fire”. Oh, by the way I will discuss those two words in a future blog.
Always sing the letter R before a Vowel
This rule is pretty much self-explanatory. Some examples are “spirit” and “for us”, if these words were said or sung without the r they would not be understood. Without the r these words would be totally different: “spit” and “fo us”, now you see why this rule speaks for itself.
Start implementing these rules in your singing while also applying everything I discussed in previous blogs. You will feel and hear your singing change.. Remember to always keep your throat open, larynx low and support every note as if it were your only one.
Shena Crane is a Classically trained professional vocal coach. She graduated from University Of Texas At Arlington. Shena holds a Bachelors Degree in Music Education as well as an Associates Degree in Music/Performance. Book Shena for private vocal training through The Music Ministry Coach.com