Magic Choral Trick #139 Marking Formed and Unformed Vowels On the Sheet Music
I was asked recently how I would get a choir to sing more musically – especially when it comes to more appropriate word stresses.
The singers need to know:
That all syllables are not created equal (Post #43 https://betterchoirs.wordpress.com/2011/12/30/magic-choral-trick-43-word-accentuation-politically-incorrect-feminine-endings/ )
That all vowels were not created equal in the context of singing in English. Some are formed, and some are unformed. (Post #’s 14 and 15 https://betterchoirs.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/magic-choral-trick-14-the-nothing-vowel-shape/ and https://betterchoirs.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/magic-choral-trick-15-the-nothing-vowel-one-more-thing/ )
That if they fix just these two things (which are related, because every unaccented syllable needs an unformed vowel) people will suddenly notice how much more ‘musically’ they’re singing.
I’ve found that real learning of these two things takes a very long time to become habit, but that it’s really worth the consistent effort.
And although it may initially seem a bit labour intensive, the best way to start work on this is to mark the formed and unformed vowels right into the score. I use the spelling out of the formed vowel (‘oh’, ‘ah’, ‘ee’) and just a little wiggly line above the unformed vowels.
It also works best if the singers mark the sheet music themselves – although it’s ok for the director to mark these in the score prior to photocopying something you’ve bought online. I find the singers take more responsibility for noticing their own markings – but if the director has included them on the master copy, rehearsal time is not used, and everyone’s markings are identical.
Posted on May 13, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged Marking Formed and Unformed Vowels On the Sheet Music. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.