Slurring in Vocals

Posted by: agent3x

Slurring in Vocals - 02/16/09 02:39 PM

I'm setting music to a short poem as an exercise. I'm working on the vocals right now, and I'm wondering if there are any rules about using slurs in vocal music. I've done a bit of research and looked over some vocal scores, but I haven't found anything conclusive.

Right now, I've only got slurs over notes that are sung in one syllable of a word. I don't know if I should put slurs over a whole phrase (three bars), or if that's too much legato to sing. Also, I've got a few octave jumps; is it hard to slur such a large interval?
Posted by: Larisa

Re: Slurring in Vocals - 02/16/09 03:14 PM

You might want to talk to a singer about both of these questions. The only thing about long phrases is that you want the singer to have enough breath to sing them with; otherwise, you'll end up with the singer turning blue and passing out, which is probably not the musical effect you want. \:\) Be very aware of where you want the singer to pause for breath, and whether you're giving them enough of an opportunity to breathe.

As for octave jumps - octaves are not very difficult intervals to sing, but be aware that it is a jump that can take you from one vocal register to another. How fast are these octave jumps? What is the melody doing immediately before and immediately after? Try singing it yourself, just to get a bit of a "feel" for how hard this is.

Good luck!
Posted by: jjtpiano

Re: Slurring in Vocals - 02/16/09 04:08 PM

When I write vocal parts I only slur notes that are sung on the same syllable, and only then if they are meant to be slurred and not repeated.

An example that would not be slurred would be if the singer were singing, "BA-A-A-BY," where the BA-A-A were three separate attacks for emphasis.

Pay attention to include rests (or commas in the text) where breaths may to be taken.

Depending on the speed of the piece, most singers can handle four measure phrases without a breath.

Take special care not to write whole notes in places where you don't really need to singer to hold out the entire note. You want to give her a place to breathe, so where you might have a whole note in a piano part, consider writing a dotted half note followed by a quarter rest so that she can prepare for the next phrase.
Posted by: Bob Newbie

Re: Slurring in Vocals - 02/16/09 05:45 PM

Listen to some tracks by Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughn..
Posted by: Steve Chandler

Re: Slurring in Vocals - 02/17/09 01:38 PM

Slurs can be used to indicate what should be sung with a single breath. Of course one can also use commas and rests to indicate where a singer should breath. Slurs are an instrumental notation and aren't really used in vocal music. The only time they get used is when a single vowel is sung over multiple notes.

When I first saw the title of this thread I thought perhaps some singer had been drinking. That wouldn't be something you could fix in the mix.
Posted by: agent3x

Re: Slurring in Vocals - 02/19/09 05:11 PM

Thanks for the advice. I decided to just use slurs where there was a syllable sung over multiple notes. I'd forgotten to indicate where it is appropriate to take a breath, so I added those. Also, that was a good tip about not holding notes longer than they need to be held; I shortened some of the longer notes.

As for the singing it myself... lamentably, I cannot sing! Not well, anyway. But my composition class sang it, and I didn't get complaints from any of the singers, so I think the octave jumps work fine.