spanish words

Spanish: SAS vs. SES ("Castilian")

Spanish is a complex language that has developed over hundreds of years and has many dialects and variations. Two of the most common variations of Spanish are Standard American Spanish (SAS) and Standard European Spanish (SES). Although they share much of the same vocabulary, there are some major and minor differences between each variation of the language.

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person considering options

Why Is This IPA Transcription Different?

Great question. There are a number of reasons why a transcription generated by our IPA transcriber might be different from the way you learned:

First of all, there is often disagreement among experts as to the "correct" pronunciation of certain foreign words.

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fork in the road

Broad vs. Narrow IPA Transcription

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is a wonderful tool that provides a unique symbol for each sound in every language on Earth, allowing you to learn to sing songs and pronounce words in practically any language without necessarily devoting the years it would take to master that language. Part of learning to use IPA includes deciding exactly how much detail you would like included in the transcription, which will affect your pronunciation. There are two main types of transcription: narrow and broad.

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vocalist on stage

Why Singers Should Learn the IPA

For vocalists in the bel canto tradition, a firm grasp of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is fundamental to success.

The IPA is used to transcribe words into a group of symbols, each representing a specific sound that can be pronounced without necessarily knowing the language. It was created in 1897 by a group of French and British language teachers.

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Westminster Abbey performance

Balancing Choir and Orchestra

The following is excerpted and distilled from my D.M.A. dissertation (2009). I thought it appropriate to include it here since it addresses a topic closely tied with diction for singers. Here's a link to the full dissertation for anyone who happens to be interested in further reading (and has a lot of time to kill).

An understanding of choral music between 1800 and 1900 offers insight into the causes of contemporary problems with choral/orchestral balance because many of these problems stem from nineteenth-century phenomena. This article offers explanations for the origins of these balance problems in the specific musical institutions, instrumental technologies, music ideologies, and concert practices of the nineteenth century. Further, this article describes some of the ingenious solutions nineteenth-century conductors employed to address these problems. To the extent that twenty-first century choral conductors continue to face some of the causal factors inherited from the nineteenth century, a revival of the solutions from this time period is worth considering.

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