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#655331 - 01/11/04 03:45 PM Sopranos are Unintellligible  
Joined: Nov 2002
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Kreisler Offline
Kreisler  Offline


Joined: Nov 2002
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Iowa City, IA


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#655332 - 01/16/04 08:27 PM Re: Sopranos are Unintellligible  
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starmender Offline
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starmender  Offline
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Australia
What's troubling me is what you asked google in order to find this!

Actually, I have never understood any sung words, except from ABBA and Julie Andrews! Oh, and Frank Sinatra's generation.

#655333 - 01/16/04 08:32 PM Re: Sopranos are Unintellligible  
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kathyk Offline
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kathyk  Offline
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Maine
I actually heard this on NPR the other day. Whenever I listen to opera, which is typcially in Italian (of which I know a little) and German (of which I know more), it seems I can never understand anything. I feel vindicated.

#655334 - 01/16/04 09:44 PM Re: Sopranos are Unintellligible  
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Tom--K Offline
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Tom--K  Offline
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Back in my single days I had a penchant for ballet dancers--tall, skinny and dumb. I later learned the charms of opera singers--all that and with preternaturally large breasts.

#655335 - 01/16/04 09:56 PM Re: Sopranos are Unintellligible  
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kathyk Offline
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kathyk  Offline
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Maine
Quote
Originally posted by Tom-*K:
Back in my single days I had a penchant for ballet dancers--tall, skinny and dumb. I later learned the charms of opera singers--all that and with preternaturally large breasts.
Pendulantly large breasts!?

#655336 - 01/16/04 10:53 PM Re: Sopranos are Unintellligible  
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Tom--K Offline
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Tom--K  Offline
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Quote
Posted by kathy with a k: Pendulantly large breasts!?
Whatever, they all seem to be freaks of nature. (Not that ever minded!)

#655337 - 01/18/04 10:01 PM Re: Sopranos are Unintellligible  
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Ariel Offline
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Ariel  Offline
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NE
No wonder my grandfather ran off with one* (ending his marriage). He liked her voice too, I've heard.

Ariel

*Or should I say, one too many? A thing he had.


If this is coffee, bring me tea. If this is tea, bring me coffee.
~Abraham Lincoln~
#655338 - 01/22/04 11:17 AM Re: Sopranos are Unintellligible  
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Matt G. Offline
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Matt G.  Offline
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Plainfield, IL
Sorry to bring this back on topic shocked , but a voice teacher of mine once propounded a similar theory about the unintelligibility of sopranos. Seems that the production of vowel sounds is somewhat dependent upon the proper resonant frequencies in the proper ratios. His reasoning was that as it became necessary to sing higher and higher frequencies (nobody goes higher than a soprano), the positioning and tension on the vocal cords to produce the best overall tone becomes such that the production of the proper frequencies for vowel sounds becomes more and more difficult, and at the top of the register nearly impossible. The higher the note, the more likely it is to come out as just a generic schwa or ahhh-type of sound.

It isn't actually impossible to generate vowel sounds at higher pitches, it's just that the overtones needed to make the vowel intelligible usually produce a more pinched, unpleasant tone.

None of this applies to diction, however. There is generally no excuse for lack of production of unvoiced consonants. Some sopranos (Callas comes to mind) have such gloriously rich tone that you can almost forgive them. Others, like Beverly Sills, manage to nail the consonants without losing the line or the breath. That takes work, work, work, and a substantial amount of concentration and talent.


Sacred cows make the best hamburger. - Clemens
#655339 - 01/23/04 09:53 AM Re: Sopranos are Unintellligible  
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DW_mod Offline
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DW_mod  Offline
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Yap. I agree with Matt. I'm a mezzo soprano and I sing operas occassionally too. Singing is never difficult, but to make people understand what you are singing without affecting your tonal quality is really, really difficult. Only a few professional opera singers can do that with ease. So don't blame the singers for their bad diction. It's not easy to produce clear souding vowels and at the same time maintain projection and articulating the consanonts.


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