Magic Choral Trick #43 Word accentuation – Politically Incorrect Feminine Endings

Once upon a time in the English language was something called a feminine ending. It referred to the lesser, weaker or gentler of two syllables in a word. Like the back end of words like:


Most two syllable words in any song work much, much better if the second syllable is treated like the ‘Feminine Ending’ that it is – in other words with the Nothing Vowel Shape. You still need to sing the correct sound, especially if it’s a short vowel – like the ‘ing’ in singing or flying – but if it’s sung through the Nothing Vowel Shape, the back end of the word won’t pop out.

I’ve found that the closer that singing is to the way we actually speak, the less our singer’s diction mannerisms distract the audience from the song. The quality of the sound will be smoother and the lyrics much more clear.

If every syllable is equally accentuated, the choppiness of the delivery becomes the audience’s main focus. (Well – certainly for highly critical, picky and slightly nasty audience members like me)

Feminine Endings are also found at the end of many multi-syllable words – like ‘reincarnation’ and ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’ – but these show up in songs less often.

About janetkidd

I've been waving my arms in front of choirs now for more than 35 years - and these are descriptions of all the very best things I've learned. I direct a Women's Competitive Barbershop Chorus, a Men's Competitive Barbershop Chorus, a Med School choir, and for a few weeks each year - Big Choir (about 100 voices) - which performs at an annual fundraising concert. Hope at least some of these Choral Magic Tricks will be useful to you - and thanks for reading. Janet

Posted on December 30, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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