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Magic Choral Trick #308 Emotion, Not Emphasis

For years I tried to figure out the best way to request that a chorus give a little more on a particular word, in order to make the meaning of a phrase clearer.

However, what happened when I asked for more was that some people accented the word with a hearty glottal attack, some people lengthened the vowel and some people felt that scooping up from just under the pitch would give it that special extra meaning.

So, work had to be done to set the stage.

No more scooping up to the beginning of any note – ever.

No glottal attacks. Trying hard to think of an exception…nope, can’t think of any.

The chorus must understand the concept of target vowels, and any appropriate diphthong resolutions.

Once these things are cleaned up and have become habit for the chorus, emotional wonderfulness awaits.

Consider this from “I’m Afraid the Masquerade is Over”:

“For your eyes don’t shine like they used to shine”

The “don’t shine” has one emotion, and the “used to shine” has a slightly different one. We need to feel (and see) the dullness of the “don’t shine” and the wistful remembering of the early relationship brightness in the “used to shine”.

The more emotion we can feel in each of these short phrases, the more rich and varied the story becomes. And the richness and variation will automatically show up in the tone.

“And the thrill is gone when your lips meet mine”. I asked the chorus to feel the emotion of the hollowness of the word ‘gone’, and got a wonderful dark empty sound.

Once the technical stuff (the synchronization, target vowels, diphthongs) is handled, the intensity of the storytelling can be enhanced by asking for more emotion on a given word or phrase, rather than asking for a specific style of articulation.

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