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Voice Studio News & Fun
March 16, 2020 | Issue #16 | Newsletter Archive
Voice Training: International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)
The International Phonetic Alphabet, or IPA, is a system of symbols used to represent verbal language sounds. IPA is used by lexicographers, foreign language students and teachers, linguists, speech-language pathologists, singers, actors, constructed language creators and translators.

The chart to the left shows the most commonly-used IPA symbols. Some of them are the same as our English (Latin) letters, but you'll see a lot of unfamiliar symbols. Each different sound has it's own distinct symbol, as opposed to our English alphabet, in which the letter "a" can be pronounced many different ways, for example.

We singers use this alphabet as a way to sing songs in languages we may not have studied. For example, if a song originally composed in Russian is transcribed into IPA, then you will be able to sing it accurately, even if you have not learned Russian.

You can find all kinds of YouTube videos to help with language pronunciation, such as this French language pronunciation video. French is notoriously one of the most challenging languages for native English speakers to pronounce correctly, particularly because of the mixed vowels and nasal vowels that we do not have in English.

College level voice majors study lyric diction, which includes all of the major languages that classical songs are written in, and they become very well acquainted with the International Phonetic Alphabet.

Have fun with this online phonetic transcriber! Type in the English words and see what it would be in IPA. Send secret messages only another singer can read!
Folk Song Favorites
When Irish Eyes are Smiling
Technically more in the category of a musical "standard" than a folk song, this tune is a great one for St. Patrick's Day. First published in 1912, its lyrics were written by Chau ncey Olcott and George Graff, Jr., set to music composed by Ernest Ball.

Listen to this lovely recording of some authentic Irish tenors .

Click here to download the song and sing or play for yourself!

Name That Tune
Have fun sight-reading these folk tunes! Do you recognize them?
You've Got Rhythm!
Here are some exercises for rhythm practice - good luck!
Composer Spotlight: Enya
Irish singer and songwriter Enya (born May 17, 1961) is a contemporary icon of new age and Celtic music. She is Ireland's bestselling solo artist and second-bestselling artist behind U2. Enya has won awards including seven World Music Awards, four Grammy Awards for Best New Age Album, and an Ivor Novello Award. She was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for "May It Be", written for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001).

Check out some of her original music videos:

  • May It Be (LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring, 2001)

All of her songs are beautiful music to relax and fall asleep to!