NC, NYC Adv. Singer’s Diction  MUS 235



                 Professor D. Talley                        SPR 2009


Course Day and Time:  Monday 3:00-4:45

                                        Room B605

Credits:  2

Office Hours:  6:00-9:00 Tuesday, 12:00-1:00 Thursday, 12:00-1:00 Friday, and by appointment: Please his schedule, which is posted on the door of his office. If you need to schedule an appointment, please call our administrative assistant, Willana Mack, (212) 625-0500 ext. 608.


Phone: (212) 927-1015 Home

              (917) 825 8697 cell

              (212) 625-0500 ext. 607 Office





This class will continue the study of diction begun in MUS 233 and give a better understanding of singer's Italian, English, French, and German pronunciation.  There will be a review of Italian diction and the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), its rules and applications, and strengthen the performance of French and German art songs and operatic repertoire.  There will be an intensive study of French and German phonetics beyond the fundamentals of articulation and pronunciation as applied to singing in German and French. By employing the aural and verbal skills acquired in this course, the student singer will be able to demonstrate singers' diction in English, Italian, Latin, French, and German.




Language Diction has as a four-fold purpose:

    1. To cause students studying singing to become thoroughly familiar with the International Phonetic Alphabet, the standard tool for singers in dealing with matters of proper pronunciation. With the recognition of IPA symbols there will be frequent readings of languages with and without IPA transcription. The procedure will be the presentation of the language sounds as represented by the alphabet of the International Phonetic Association (IPA), showing the correspondence of these sounds and the spelling of these sounds in the respective languages.  The IPA alphabet is a system of symbols which represent specific sounds that remain constant for all languages, and are considerably more precise than other general notations regarding pronunciation.

    2. To lay a foundation for on-going growth and ever-increasing ease in using the four 'standard' singing languages of the Western classical tradition: English, Italian, French and German. Through study and drill we will acquire an understanding of the sounds of these languages and a fluency in their pronunciation as applied to singing.  

3.      Basic knowledge of general pronunciation rules for each language,   as well as attempting to capture the flavor and color of each language when singing.  This course does not replace traditional foreign language study but rather supplements it with special emphasis on the correct lyric diction in the languages listed above.  The academic study of languages especially for vocal performance majors is strongly recommended in addition to this class.

4.      Standard approaches to diction problems, such as connecting words, using consonants while preserving legato, etc.


Information Literacy Requirement:  You will be required to access the following website for further information to aid you in your study of singing:  


1. The student will visit the class website:

and submit a one page evaluation of the contents making suggestions for additions. This will be done at the beginning and at the end of the semester.

2. The student will develop a Webliography to aid in concert attendance and the study of singing diction and submit at least 15 additional links by March 1, 2007 via e-mail.




Moriarty, John. Diction. E. C. Schirmer Music Company, 1975.

ISBN: 0911318097




Adams, David.  A Handbook of Diction for Singers, New York, Oxford University Press, 1992. ISBN: 0-19-512077-9


ANTHOLOGY OF ITALIAN SONG OF THE 17TH AND 18TH CENTURIES, by G. Schirmer.  (In Medium Low or Medium High keys)

One acceptable pocket dictionary for: French, German, & Italian/English.

CDSheetMusic of Operatic Arias  or Art Songs in your Fach [Soprano, Mezzo-soprano/Alto, Tenor, or Baritone/Bass]

Marshall, M. The Singer's Manual of English Diction. New York: Schirmer Books.

Faure. 30 Songs, ed. S. Kagen. New York: International.

Schubert. 100 Songs, ed. S. Kagen. New York: International.

Colorni, Evelina. Singers' Italian. Schirmer Books, 1970.

Wall, Joan.  International Phonetic Alphabet for Singers, 1992.



The semester will be divided into four units. Each one will cover applicable IPA and principles of its application to song texts, pronunciation rules for the language (English, Italian, French, or German, as the case may be) and also look at the difficulty of poetic translations.   The first unit of the semester would then dwell a review of IPA, Italian, and French. The second will be specific to German, and the third English and Latin.  The last unit will include singing in all these languages and a review again of the rules of pronunciation and IPA.

For each language studied, every student will prepare at least one song within that language.  The songs used in this class will be either the songs on the CD given at the first class or an alternate selection chosen with Prof. Talley’s approval for each language. (You may ask your vocal teacher for suggestions.) Your final exams will consist of both a short IPA test on French, Italian and German and a class concert where each student will sing songs in the five studied languages.  You may work on your assigned songs with your vocal teacher if they wish but this assignment is not a requirement for repertoire assignments of your vocal teacher.  Each student must prepare the performance song with correct IPA written outside of class the week before the final exam and these will be duplicated and used in class in the final exam.  The final exam will not be open dictionary or text but the general rules of pronunciation plus the class concert.  In addition to class assignments there will be one field trip to Juilliard or Manhattan School to listen to a student recital and evaluate the singer’s diction.


Songs Selected: (A song of your choice or one in each language of the following)


ITALIAN:    “Se tu m’ami, se sospiri”  by Pergolesi

                    “Caro mio ben” by Giordani


GERMAN:  “An die musik” by Schubert

                    “Widmung” by Schumann

                    “Zueignung” by Strauss

                    “Verborgenheit” by Wolf


FRENCH:  “Apres un reve”  by Faure

                   “Chanson triste”


ENGLISH:  “Selected Hymns” Oratorio, or art songs.


LATIN:   “Panis Angelicus”  by Franck or  “Ave Maria” by Schubert

T he instructor and students will endeavor to incorporate the Nyack College Core Values into the repertory that will be studied and their performances both on and off campus including a respectful attitude with fellow students, professors, and guests.


CORE VALUES: Nyack College seeks to exalt Jesus Christ and fulfill its mission by being:

Socially Relevant -- Preparing students to serve in ministerial, educational, healing and community-building professions. 

Academically Excellent -- Pursuing academic excellence in the spirit of grace and humility.

Globally Engaged -- Fostering a global perspective within a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural Christian academic community.

Intentionally Diverse -- Providing educational access and support to motivated students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.

Personally Transforming -- Emphasizing the integration of faith, learning and spiritual transformation.




Class participation and attendance:  35%

Four Quizzes: 20%

Mid Term 20%

Final: 25%

You will be required to rewrite, using the IPA symbols, eight songs; you will perform one song in each language in class.  For each song to be performed, you will provide for each student and the instructor a typewritten, triple-spaced copy of the text, along with an IPA transcription underneath each line. All songs must be approved by the instructor.

In addition to small quizzes for each language, there will be a midterm and a final.  Each student is expected to keep a journal and /or bring a tape recorder to class.  Access to a CD player will also be helpful.  Practice should include assigned vocal exercises, repertoire, and language and English diction study. 

Online Vocal Resources:

You will be required to access the following website for further information to aid you in your study of singing:


In addition to this syllabus, there will be resources for Vocal Literature, reference material, repertoire, and many links will be posted.  Music majors will also be required to follow the guidelines of, A GENERAL SYLLABUS FOR MUSIC B.A. STUDENTS, revised January 2003.

Also please refer to the new student handbook: Fall, 2005.


Also: To print out the IPA you’ll need additional fonts.

donwload IPA SILManuscript font from

go to [open a new window to do it]

click on the 'download' link

read the document that comes up VERY carefully and follow its instructions. The fonts you want are the 'SIL Encore IPA93 Fonts. [the '93' is important]




Your grade will be reduced after one un-excused absence.  Students are to arrive on time.  If you are 15 minutes late, it will be considered half an absence.  Students are expected to attend every class.


In the unusual event that an absence is unavoidable, it is the student’s responsibility to obtain the relevant notes, materials, videos, or recordings. Missed exams or tests can be made up at the Instructor’s discretion. Excessive absence (greater than 25% of class meetings) may result in a failing or significantly lowered grade.


Learning Disabilities:


Any student who has a learning disability is encouraged to speak privately with the professor or with Professor Adelaide Pabon the 504 coordinator for Nyack College/New York City.  Any student eligible for and requesting academic accommodations due to a disability is required to provide a letter of accommodation from Academic Support Services within the first two weeks of the beginning of the class.



Approximate Class Calendar:


January 22 Introduction and review syllabus and IPA


January 29 review Italian and French, Syllabification & Stressing


February 5 Quiz on IPA – intro and new symbols for German


February 12 German Open and closed vowels, Mixed vowels


February 19 German  diphthongs, Interpretive use of consonants,

                 Dental Consonants Read: "Ach, Ich fuhl's" in class


February 26 Quiz on German “An die musik” by Schubert  Widmung”

                     by Schumann, “Verborgenheit” by Wolf


March 5 Mid Term Exam plus intro to English


March 19 English and diphthongs.


March 26 Quiz on IPA Latin Pronunciation


April 2  Se tu m’ami, se sospiri”  by Pergolesi


April 9 “Ave Maria” by Schubert


April 16 “Apres un reve” and  “Chanson triste” by Faure


April 23 Charts of German and other languages due

    Quiz on French, Latin and English


April 30 Review


May 7 Final Exam and class project performances