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The razing of the Berlin Wall in 1989 has resulted in an influx of Russian opera and an awareness of Russian art song literature heretofore unparalleled in the West. American singers, who train diligently to sing Italian, French, and German song and opera, sing in Spanish, Portuguese, and Czech as well. The Cyrillic alphabet is the biggest stumbling block to English-speaking, American singers, because it looks so very different. For classically-trained singers, the sounds of the Russian language are not particularly unique, nor particularly difficult. There are only two sounds not found in English, represented by the letters û and õ. The vowel sound û is the single element of Russian diction that provides needless fear for American singers. Most want to form it too far back in the throat, adding unnecessary and unproductive tension to the muscles of articulation in the jaw and tongue. This treatise proposes to focus on those counterproductive tendencies, offering American singers of Russian opera and art song a more viable path to achieving excellent, understandable diction with beautiful vocalism. A survey of Russian vowel sounds will be followed by a similar approach to Russian consonants, dwelling particularly on those which present difficulties and pitfalls to American singers. Throughout the treatise are exercises, both articulatory and musical, to aid the singer in achieving the correct Russian sound without counterproductive tongue and jaw tension. One section will focus on the stress and length of Russian vowel sounds, double, triple, and multiple consonants, assimilations, and their applications to vocal music. Finally, a brief overview of Russian orthography and the abolished letters of the 19th century alphabet will conclude the treatise.
A Treatise Submitted to the School of Music in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Music.
Includes bibliographical references.
Florida State University
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