Singer’s Glossary

accompanist (pronounced UH-CUMP-A-NIST)– usually a single instrumentalist who plays for a singer (often a piano player)

alto an adult woman whose vocal timber is heavier and full/rich. The second highest in 4-part choral arrangements for men and women.

balanced breathing – the breathing technique used for singing that combines expanding the muscles of the rib cage to allow for expansion of the lungs and the release of the abdomen to allow the largest range of motion for the diaphragm

bass – a male singer whose voice is dark, heavy and full. The lowest part in 4-part choral arrangements for men and women.

belting – A vocal technique that combines elements of the middle two vocal registers to produce a bright, forward and fairly loud vocal quality. Often used in musical theater.

diction – the way that words are pronounced and enunciated while singing (or speaking). May be more formal or informal depending on the musical genre, but resonance and good tone start with good diction.

dynamics – the range or changes in the range of volume in a song

instrumentalist – a musician who plays an instrument

intonation – the accurate pitching of intervals in music

oversinging – using a vocal tone that sounds pressed, pinched, stained or constricted; or using too many ornaments or affectations

practice – repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency

range or vocal range – all of the notes a singer can sing. The range is made up of registers.

register (or vocal register) – a group of neighnboring notes that share the same vocal color and timbre and are produced in the same way (referring to the muscles in the larynx). Most singers are more familiar with register breaks.

register break – the places in the voice where laryngeal coordinations change.

SATB – abbreviation for soprano, alto, tenor and bass. Seen in choral music.

sightsing (or sight-sing) – to sing (or play) with correct pitches and accurate rhythms an unfamiliar piece of music with no previous practice; also called sight-reading, esp. for instrumentalists

soprano – an adult woman (or boy) singer whose vocal timber is light(er) and flexible. The highest singing voice in women (or boys). The highest part in 4-part choral arrangements for men and women.

SSA – abbreviation for a choral piece for soprano, soprano and alto.

support (aka breath support) – Efficient and well controlled use of the airflow generated by the release of the diaphragm.

tenor – a male adult singer whose vocal timber is light(er) and flexible. The second lowest part in 4-part choral arrangements for men and women.

timbre – the tone quality that makes the sound of one instrument (or singer) different from another when pitch and volume are the same. (Why a trumpet and violin dont’ sound the same. *smile*)

transcribe – writing out the notes and rhythms of a melody (or song) by listening to a recording of the piece.

vocal register – a continuous range of notes in the voice that have similar timbre and are produced using the same muscular coordination.

vocalise – a singing exercise that uses individual syllables or vowel sounds to develop flexibility and control of pitch and tone.

vocalist – a musician whose instrument is the voice

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