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Gnomon calling Trillian's Child

Post 41

Gnomon - time to move on

We sang the 13-part Gabrieli piece in the church on Monday. It's divided into three choirs, a four-part, a five-part and another four-part.

The church is laid out like a traditional cathedral, with a "choir" in front of the altar and a wrought iron screen between the choir and the congregation. The conductor positioned us (the five part choir) in the choir of the church, behind the screen. The other two choirs are in the side bits (transepts?).

We've enough people in our choir to have two altos singing the alto line, and two sopranos on the soprano line, but the bass (me) and the first and second tenors are one person per part. This is a challenge.

I get to sing the first two bars on my own!


Gnomon calling Trillian's Child

Post 42

You can call me TC

So I assume the performance is this weekend. I wish you plenty of smiley - puff


Gnomon calling Trillian's Child

Post 43

Gnomon - time to move on

Yes, tomorrow evening. Thanks!


Gnomon calling Trillian's Child

Post 44

Gnomon - time to move on

Hi TC.

I need some advice on singing in German.

We're starting work on Brahms's "Ein Deutsches Requiem" for a performance in May. At the first rehearsal, we asked an Austrian member of the choir to help us with our German pronunciation.

She told us:

1. S at the start of a word is pronounced "S", not "Z". For example "Selig" is "Say-lich", not "Zay-lich".

2. All the R's should be rolled like in Italian.

I'd like your opinion on both of these. I suspect that the first is her Austrian accent, and the second is something that singers do which is not done in normal speech.

G


Gnomon calling Trillian's Child

Post 45

You can call me TC

From the German point of view, your Austrian member is giving you all the right pronunciations; when it comes to singing, the difference isn't too great, except that the vowels will be much more closed in the Austrian - more of an "o" than an "a". But she will realise this and if she is an experienced singer, she will modify her vowels anyway.


So, what she says is correct. The voiced "s" is correct for all German pronunciations, even if it does use up more breath and is harder to enunciate so that the audience can hear it. And there are a lot of these in the Requiem, so don't let anyone try and hiss them. Personally, it drives me absolutely mad, but this is mainly because they then transfer it to Latin and sing "zzanctus" and "zzeculorum" which is Just Wrong.

The "R" should be rolled - also to save breath and to make for better understanding. One (German) voice trainer we had said that Germans were the only ones who had to be taught to roll their "r"s. Many Germans can't do it, and will use the speaking, guttural "r". (Germans can't pronounce "Th" either, and if they can, they can't see any difference between a voiced "th" and a voiceless "th")


On the other hand, "z" is, of course, as in Italian, always pronounced "ts" which is more audible and easier to sing.



Brahms was, after all, a "Northerner".

smiley - musicalnote
1. Selig sind, die da Leid tragen,

.... both intial "S" are pronounced "zz". I would separate the "d" of "Leid" and the harder "t" of tragen - perhaps you could listen to some German recordings and see what they do, and which you prefer.
Leid should start with a wide open "aah" to avoid making it "loid" which is what speakers of our local dialect would do, and would be considered very ugly.

The "G" at the end of "selig", "heilig" etc. is extremely controversial. Again, where I live, it is normally pronounced "sh" and choirs have to work really hard remembering to pronounce it "ch" at the back of the throat. Not a hard, coughing sound, as you would use in "Bach" - just a gentle ending to the word. A hard, guttural "g" as in "dog" is definitely out.

smiley - musicalnote

denn sie sollen getröstet werden.
.... intial "S" are pronounced "zz". Try and get a sweet sound with the "ö", pursing the lips

smiley - musicalnote

Die mit Tränen säen,
... Tränen" should be a fairly closed "ä" sound - on no account let it degenerate into "ay", which an English choir would tend to do.
No "h" in "säen", but it is two syllables - "say - en"

smiley - musicalnote

werden mit Freuden ernten.

Sie gehen hin und weinen - initial "s" is voiced.

smiley - musicalnote

und tragen edlen Samen, - "und" is pronounced "unt"; initial "s" is voiced.

smiley - musicalnote

und kommen mit Freuden - the "und" finishes on a hard "t", a hiatus is necessary between that and the "k" of "kommen"


smiley - musicalnote


und bringen ihre Garben - lovely "r"s to rrrrroll!


smiley - musicalnote





Very important for "Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen": don't grin too wide and show teeth in "lieblich" which would render the elongated eeee sound unnecessarily ugly. Make it more of a German "ü", which is a far sweeter sound (and looks nicer - although that is the last of one's considerations when singing!)

German has a lot of hard consonants and there is a knack to making them less conspicuous.



It is difficult to do this in writing!


I could go on. Let me know any specific questions. But trust your Austrian!

I hope this helps - and all the best for the Requiem.


Gnomon calling Trillian's Child

Post 46

Gnomon - time to move on

I'm confused now. You say "Trust your Austrian" and "She is giving you all the right pronunciations".

But she says that German S's should be an "SS" sound while you say it should be a "ZZ" sound. She said it should be:

Say-lich sint

rather than

Zay-lich zint

smiley - erm


Gnomon calling Trillian's Child

Post 47

You can call me TC

Sorry. I got the 'z's and the 's's confused regarding phonetics and spelling. I am not really so good with the Austrian dialect. Definitely no question, the initial 's' is always voiced. More later. I can't post from work any more and am on my phone in my lunch break.


Gnomon calling Trillian's Child

Post 48

You can call me TC

..... Always voiced when followed by a vowel.


Gnomon calling Trillian's Child

Post 49

Gnomon - time to move on

At last night's rehearsal our Austrian lady announced that she had been consulting with other German speakers and had discovered that some of her German pronunciation was considered very Austrian by them, something she never knew before.


Gnomon calling Trillian's Child

Post 50

You can call me TC

OK, Im here if you need me. But now she is on the right path you will be able to consult her for a quick answer. Which movement did you do yesterday?


Gnomon calling Trillian's Child

Post 51

You can call me TC

Actually I am surprised that she didn't realise her accent was so different from the German one. Even if someone is Scots, Irish or Welsh or Australian, when it comes to serious singing, surely they will attempt a standard pronunciation. The same applies to German, French, or any language.


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