Lyric American English Diction


Many of us using SingersBabel speak English as our native language.  As vocalists, this is both a blessing and a curse.  After the translating and complex visual work required to work with a foreign-language text, it’s often a relief to return to our native tongue, instinctively understanding grammatical constructions and reading and comprehending text at first sight (at least usually!). 

Nonetheless, there are some hurdles when we’re working in English.  Even though SingersBabel narrows the focus of English-language music to the North American dialect, we still have to navigate different dialects within the over-arching American one, as well as the quirky American English spellings, and of course, the ever-contentious retroflex American R [ɹ].  After that, making sure that these considerations meld into a legato line that attends to grammatical and syntactical sense is quite the effort indeed.  At the end of it all, a vocalist must present a clearly understood text!

Beloved American poet Emily Dickinson is well-represented here; you’ll also find some traditional hymn tunes and folk songs like ‘At the River’, ‘Simple Gifts’, ‘The Little Horses’ and ‘I bought me a cat’, set by American composers like Charles Ives and Aaron Copland.  Enjoy!

Barbara Paterson 



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