Handling Musical Diction & Its Varieties

A good understanding of the diction of a language and its related concepts expands the scope and use of every singer. Hence, it is necessary to be handled briefly under this concept.

Music Diction Varieties.

Gen 116-9, Acts 22-11, 1 Cor 142-11

“And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth” Gen 11:6-9

 

These marked the beginning of various languages upon the the surface of the earth. From one major language (Standard Accent) came the other sub categories till they also became a standard dialect to the people of that geographical location. It is the most developing activity of humans that emerges and improves from one generation to another.

 

“And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?  And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God”.  Acts 2:5-11.

 

The same God who instituted it in Genesis to divide their interest, thoughts communicative competence and understanding then brought a cure as one of HIS great signs thousands of years later in

Acts of the Apostles to retract all the differences and pass one same message: “I AM GOD OF ALL LANGUAGES, PEOPLE, NATION AND TONGUE”

 

The early church used this so much that it was becoming a fault that Apostle Paul had to quickly address thus:

“For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either revelation, or knowledge, or prophesying, or doctrine? And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?

For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me. 1Co 14:2-11.

 

A good understanding of the diction of a language and its related concepts expands the scope and use of every singer. Hence, it is necessary to be handled briefly under this concept.

1. Choice of words:

The first thing every singer and public speaker should consider is the age and class of the audience to be addressed. This helps the singer to have the right frame of mind and use the words best understood that generation, knowing that language is modified from one generation or class to another. Every word used has its synonym that would make your audience respond better to what you’re saying without reservations. Those who teach persuasion refer to certain words as power words; they carry greater impacts and influence than certain others. Care should be taken using such. When speaking to an older generation or people of higher authority than you, phrases like “come on”, “Get up”, “Kneel” etc. are often perceived as insult. Certain persons copy the phrases used other singers in a conference setting then use it in theirs; there are limitations to these. These accounts for why some people use phrases like “God would bless you in this service tonight” while they are in a Sunday morning service.

In” Woman Thou Art Loosed 2002’s Conference”, the Lead singer for the opening song said “… I want a loosed woman to scream”. Several persons have used the same phrase and got into problems with the pastorate and leadership because the perception people had about it was “promiscuous woman” and not the “set free woman” as understood in Woman Thou Art Loosed Annual Conference Bishop T.D Jakes. The difference here is about setting influencing the phrase used. Thus, ambiguous statements should be avoided; especially when the singer/ speaker does not have enough time to buttress what he/ she means.

 

2. Accent:

This is an issue with pronunciation conversant with a standard language as used a region. It refers to the Pronunciation, Inflection, Intonation, Tone of voice, Enunciation, Drawl, Twang, Brogue, Burr, Emphasis, Stress, Beat, Prominence, Weight given to and Highlight of certain syllables in a language. All languages have theirs.

 

3. Dialectic tone:

A sub-standard of an accent used speakers from a particular Ethnic Group within the region. This is often influenced a lot of other factors among Mother Tongue Interference (MTI), especially where the Language is not their L1 {mother tongue}.

 

4. Idiosyncrasy:

This is also a sub-standard of an accent used speakers from a particular region. However, this is heard within a smaller ethnic group, clan or family. It is often influenced a lot of factors among Mother Tongue Interference (MTI) and Genetic Speech Patterns (GSP) acquired at birth and developed the Language Acquisition Device (LAD) inherent in the individual child. It is synonymous to Eccentricity, Quirk, Foible, Habit, Unconventional behavior/ Speech Pattern but peculiar to these people.

 

5. Idiolect:

This is a speech pattern peculiar to an individual, then copied several others who look up to him for instruction and mentorship; especially when he is a public figure or world class icon. This might have been a result of some or all the aforementioned causes of a sub-standard accent, yet at other times it is a deliberately learnt habit the individual who others now emulate.

 

6. English phonemes (Consonants & Vowels):

A thorough study of these, aid the articulation of words during a musical performance while the improvement builds up your skill and dynamics. Some skills are done mostly using the vowels while certain others depend on the voiced or voiceless consonants.

The 24 Consonants are:

/b/ This sound is present in words with  b as in

Baby, Blue, Blessed

/p/ This sound is present in words with the p alphabet.

Police, Please, Possible etc.

/d/ This sound is present in words with the d alphabet.

Darling, Don’t, Dangerous etc.

/f/ This sound is present in words with f, ph alphabets.

Fish, friend, Philosophy, joseph etc.

/v/ This sound is present in words with the v alphabet

Very, every etc

/g/ This sound is present in words with the g alphabet

Girl, goal, goat etc

/k/ This sound is present in words with the ch, k alphabet

Chaos, kettle, king etc.

/h/ This sound is present in words with the h alphabet.

Help, heaven, health etc.

/j/ This sound is present in words with the j, y alphabet.

Jealous, jug, you, yes etc.

/l/ This sound is present in words with the l alphabet.

Like, living, Lord etc.

/m/ This sound is present in words with the m alphabet

Mine, most, merry etc

/n/ This sound is present in words with the n alphabet

Nature, Night, never etc.

/r/ This sound is present in words with the r alphabet.

Royalty, remember, Raise etc

/s/ This sound is present in words with the s, ps alphabet.

Send, Psalm, Salvation, Psychology etc.

/z/ This sound is present in words with the z, s alphabet.

Jesus, Zeal, Please etc.

/ʒ/ This sound is present in words with the g alphabet.

Large, Merge,

/ ʃ / This sound is present in words with the s, sh alphabet.

Pleasure, Treasure, Hush, Worship etc.

/w/ This sound is present in words with the w alphabet.

Wealth, will, worship etc.

/Ѳ/ This sound is present in words with the th alphabet.

Thanks, through, think etc.

/ð / This sound is present in words with the th alphabet.

Thou, thee, the, than etc.

/ŋ/ This sound is present in words with the nk, ng, nc alphabet.

Sinking, Sing, Blanc etc.

/dʒ/ This sound is present in words with the dg alphabet.

Judge, Fridge, Ridge etc.

/tʃ/ This sound is present in words with the ch alphabet.

Church, Bench, Wretch etc

/t/ This sound is present in words with the t alphabet.

Talk, Wait, Wept etc.

 

7. Syllabification:

One of the most important aspects of Diction in Music is Syllabification. This varies from one singer to the other especially influenced their point of emphasis. However, there are general patterns that most songs follow.

A syllable is the least pronounceable part of a word. In more advanced word analysis context {morphology), they can also be referred to as morpheme, depending on their functionality. Other dictionaries describe it as how many times a word is articulated. Although this is only a guide to what it is musically as the singer could turn a two syllabic word like Je-sus to Je-e-e-e-sus {Your Name is a Miracle….}  being five syllabic or more while others contract it into one like Jes’ {Bread of Life Fred Hammond} etc.     The governing rule in music is that the last consonant in a syllable as used the singer moves to begin the next syllable to be sung. Example:

“…It is well”    is sung as                   {I-ti-swell}

“…All of My Help”                              {A-lof-mai-help}

“…Blessed be the name of” {Ble-sse-dbe-the-nai-mof}

 

8. Speech impairment:

Some other singers/ speakers are speech impaired. These are those who fall into categories of Nasal Faults, Fairly raised/ weak tongue control, husky voices etc. thus, care should be taken in rehearsing with such materials not to repeat their uncontrollable faults as against musical skill/style. However, in the midst of these have arisen certain singers who have so controlled theirs that those who do not have these faults rehearse to sing like them; “God’s humorous attitude in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence”.

 

 

The list could go on and on but it is enough to give a guide on Musical Diction & Its Varieties…

Note: when the syllable is to be extended or increased due to musical dynamism or skill, it is mostly done with the vowels except on very rare cases and depending on the musical skill to be done.

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