Diction for Singers

The importance of diction for a singer

Diction for Singers- Clear diction is very important in singing for a number of reasons so should be focused on when developing your voice. The 2 main areas to consider when working on diction are technique and performance, whether it’s to a live audience or when recording.

What does diction mean?

Diction is the distinctiveness of speech. It is the art of speaking so that each word is clearly heard. In music, this is very important as without it songs may lose their meaning to the listener.

Diction in Singing

From a performance point of view, when singing a song you are, in most cases, telling a story or sharing thoughts with your audience. Therefore it’s vital that the lyrics can distinguished in order for your listener to understand what the song is about and what the message is. If the lyrics to a song aren’t clear, then the song becomes meaningless and forgettable.

Although a catchy melody is hugely important, one of the reasons some of the biggest artists shoot up the charts is because the words of the song made such a personal connection to their listeners that it was listened and sung to over and over again.

From the technique side, for some singers, words can become slurred, mumbled and very lazy sounding. The most common causes of this can be all of or any of the following;

  • Mouth shape
  • Tongue placement
  • External muscles around the jaw or internally in the larynx
  • Poor breath control
  • Style choice
  • Mimicking another singer

Tips for improving your singing diction

Working on improving the clarity of vowels and consonants and, therefore, the annunciation of syllables can have a major impact on how easy singing can be. A great tip is to relate back to how you speak so you stay true to your own voice.

When you talk you seldom squeeze or strain your vocal cords or become overly slurred and breathy. This is because you’re using your voice in a way that is most natural to you without trying to manipulate muscles to search for certain notes or add a vocal style that takes your voice way out of balance.

If on the other hand, you have a tendency to rush and mumble your speech you will find by working on your diction for singing that your speech will also improve.

There are elements of diction can be worked on with vocal coaches by using appropriate exercises that will undo bad habits a start building new ones with correct technique.

Although this may feel difficult at first, with practise you’ll be surprised how quickly the new techniques become second nature to you. You’ll find the tone, clarity, range and control also improves as a result of clearer diction.

If you are working with a vocal coach, do make sure you’re clear on the style of singing that is right for you. Good diction is important across all styles. However for some styles, it is much crisper, for example Classical and Musical Theatre.

Genres like pop, RnB or Rock most certainly need a less crisp and pronounced diction to work, so if your voice is similar to Katherine Jenkins or Andrea Bocelli, the chances are you just won’t get away with doing the latest Rihanna or Ed Sheeran cover!

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