It’s like giving the author credit where credit is due
The use of lyrics and a particular song structure, give you as the performer fantastic cues and direction to make dynamic changes to give the performance a better feel.
Take a look at the simple questions we have provided to give yourself an easy understanding of what you want to achieve when learning and performing a song.
Today we help you take any song and learn it from the inside out!
The Next Few Steps to Learning a Song
The process of learning a song can be a long one! However, now you’re getting into the fun part … actually getting to sing and interpret the song. Today we cover the next step in learning a song like a professional
Step 5. Marking up the Lyrics
For good phrasing, you must understand the song you’re singing. As I said before, a song isn’t just words set to music: it’s a story that you, as the singer, will tell.
In order to tell their musical story, songwriters employ three lyrical devices: the verse, the chorus, and the bridge. These three sections can be put together in a variety of ways to add contrast or the familiarity of repetition, and one or more may be eliminated entirely.
• The verse is the story-telling vehicle of the song that gives information. There may be several verses in a row, but each contains different words.
• The chorus is a section that tends to be repeated without modification in the lyrics. It is often the most memorable or catchy part of a song.
• The bridge serves as a break in the middle of a piece. It is usually completely different from either the verse or chorus.
Some common song structures are as follows:
Examples: Live’s “Lightning Crashes,” Bob Marley’s “Ain’t No Sunshine,” James Brown’s “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag”
Examples: Madonna’s “Lucky Star,” Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,”
Carole King’s “A Natural Woman”
Some songs may begin with the chorus, such as Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman.”
Other songs may be entirely made up of verses with no chorus or bridge, such as
Bette Midler’s “The Rose.”
Determining the phrasing of a song involves everything from deciding where to place your lyrical emphases to where to take your breaths. The lyrical emphases are the places where emphasis should naturally fall in the “musical sentence.”
For example, take the first line of Robert Burns’ poem “Red, Red Rose”:
O my love’s like a red, red rose…
Where would you naturally put the emphasis? Clearly, words like “my,” “like,” and “a” will be passed over quickly, while words like “love” and “rose” are more important.
Go through the lyrics and look at the meaning of each musical sentence. Ask yourself which words are the most important or essential to understanding the lyrics as a whole. Underline those words to remind yourself of their importance.
Good phrasing depends on breath control.
You need to have enough air to finish each lyrical sentence solidly, rather than letting the note fade away.
You don’t want to have to take more breaths than necessary, however. Focusing your air will keep you from wasting your breath and enable you to deliver a powerful tone right through to the end.
Breaths act like musical commas. You should take a breath where there is room for a pause in the musical phrase. Usually, you will take your breaths:
• Where there is a pause in the lyrics, or
• At the end of any long notes.
Make sure to write your breaths into the music as apostrophes so that you don’t forget to breathe. It may sound silly, but it can easily be done!
Some music, usually choral arrangements, may already have breath marks written in the score. But if you forget one breath, the music won’t slow down for you to take another one, and you don’t want to have to catch up with the music.
You may be interested to know that once you are a soloist with a band or piano, you will control the movements of the music, as the accompaniment always follows the vocal lead.
Good work! You should be proud of yourself for getting this far and excited about your new ability to dissect a song and learn it thoroughly.
Next up we focus on eliminating those pitching problems that can creep in when learning a new song and being unfamiliar with the correct melody.
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