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Porter, Marcia D. Singing in Brazilian Portuguese: A Guide to Lyric Diction. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017. Paper, xxix, 322 pp., $55.00. ISBN 978-0-8108-8902-6 eBook $52.00 ISBN 978-0-8108-8903-3 www.rowman.com.

The proliferation of diction resources for singers has been profound over the past fifty years. In addition to textbooks devoted to the generalized use of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) for the study of song texts, there are volumes dedicated to a single language, such as the Guides to Lyric Diction, published by Rowman & Littlefield and edited by Timothy Cheek. In his foreword to this most recent addition to the series, Cheek commends author Marcia Porter for both the authoritative content and the timeliness of the volume. The latter is due to two events. In 2005, a national congress met to agree upon a national standard for Brazilian Portuguese lyric diction, free of regional dialects. As well, as part of the Portuguese Language Orthographic Agreement, Brazil agreed to standardize spelling by 2016. Performers of Brazilian Portuguese vocal music must be familiar with these recent changes in both the sound and spelling of the language.

In the introduction, the author emphasizes that the volume specifically addresses Brazilian Portuguese lyric diction. Although, as described above, there have been steps taken toward consistency in spelling, European Portuguese is different from the language used in Brazil. Porter points out that since 1937, when the first national language congress was held in Sao Paulo, Brazilians have been concerned with maintaining a neutral pronunciation, free from regionalisms and dialects. When Brazil entered into the orthographic agreement mentioned earlier, it joined other Portuguese speaking nations to create a unified system of spelling. The text succinctly summarizes the orthographic reforms that are relevant to the transcription and translation of song texts. For instance, the trema (dieresis) now appears only in words of foreign origin, and the circumflex and acute accent are not used to indicate stressed vowels. Since diacritical marks are important in the pronunciation of the language, the text contains a discussion of all, even those used before the Accord of 2009.

The volume is divided into two parts. Part One presents the sound of Brazilian Portuguese, while Part Two offers both an overview of important composers who wrote songs in Brazilian Portuguese and texts of representative works. Recorded examples of the sounds of Brazilian Portuguese can be accessed on the publisher's website.

Part One begins with a discussion of the sounds of the language. Although the alphabet is the same as that used in English, there are diagraphs and diacritical marks. Syllabification is an important consideration, as pronunciation is affected by determining the correct stress. The author explains that although the stress of a syllable is unchanged by the presence of the cedilla, trema, or grave, the pronunciation is affected. Like French, Brazilian Portuguese has nasal vowels; unlike French, however, the sound contains a hint of the subsequent consonant. To indicate the presence of this sound, voiced velar nasals are included in superscript after the transcription of nasal vowels. The author also notes that French nasal vowels are rounder and not as bright as those in Brazilian Portuguese. A useful inclusion in the discussion of vowels is grammatical context. For instance, Porter notes that many words that end with a ei diphthong are generally verbs in the first person in past or future tense. While consonants share the same orthographic spelling as English, there are variants in aspirates. Pronunciation of consonants is determined by several factors, including the location of the letter, the letters surrounding it, whether the letter appears at the end of a word or phrase, and the presence of diacritical marks. The author urges consulting the dictionary for transcriptions because several letters have multiple sounds. The final characteristic of the language discussed is elision between words. When linkage occurs, syllabification is affected. Because all final vowels are usually pronounced in Brazilian Portuguese, words are elided when the first ends with an unstressed vowel and the subsequent word begins with an unstressed vowel. There is no elision if the musical setting has pitches for both syllables.

Part Two offers an introduction to Brazilian vocal repertoire. The author prefaces the discussion of songs with an overview of Brazil's music history. Like many colonized nations, the native musical culture was both shaped and submerged by European culture; the development of Brazilian music was further influenced by African music via the slave trade. The catalogue of noteworthy Brazilian song composers is organized into five chapters, and presented in chronologic order. Porter chose sixty songs by eighteen composers. Although brief biographic sketches are presented for each, seven of the entries do not include representative songs. The information for each song contains the original text, word-by-word translation, poetic translation, and transcription into IPA, name and dates for the poet, publisher, performance duration, and date of composition.

The listing begins with Jose Mauricio Nunes Garcia (1767-1830), who served as the chapel master for Dom Joao when the monarch moved to Brazil to escape the Napoleonic invasion of Portugal in 1808. Not surprisingly, an entire chapter is devoted to Heiter Villa-Lobos (1887-1959), and nearly a third of the representative songs in the volume are those written by this prominent Brazilian composer. His Bachianas brasileiras, no. 5 is arguably the best known vocal work written in Brazilian Portuguese. Aficionados of nationalist song will be interested in the fifteen representative pieces by Alberto Nepomuceno (1864-1920), who was known as the father of the Brazilian art song. Porter offers information about contemporary composers writing songs in Brazilian Portuguese, including Marlos Nobre (b. 1939), Ronaldo Miranda (b. 1948), Achille Picchi (b. 1951), and Aurelio Edler-Copes (b. 1976).

Useful information is offered in five appendixes, including influential poets, collections of songs in Brazilian Portuguese, a listing of publishers, and organizations concerned with Brazilian song. The author recognizes that it can be difficult to obtain vocal scores because many editions are out of print, and she proffers a bibliography of sources for scores. The final appendix is a pronunciation checklist, a brief two-page encapsulation of the guidelines for Brazilian Portuguese. Regrettably absent is guidance for the pronunciation of the names of composers and poets, and an index of songs.

Singing in Brazilian Portuguese is an excellent addition to the literature for the study of lyric diction. The research is exemplary, and Porter offers directives for the study and performance of repertoire that merit attention. The volume is highly recommended.

Doorn, Ineke van. Singing from the Inside Out: Exploring the Voice, the Singer and the Song. A Practical Guide for the Expressive Singer. Arnhem, The Netherlands: ArtEZ Press, 2016. Paper, 287 pp., $44.00. ISBN 978-94-91444-26-5 www.singing-fromtheinsideout.com.

When Ineke van Doorn earned a degree in jazz/pop singing from the Utrecht Conservatory in 1988, she was breaking new ground. She describes the pedagogy as "uncharted territory"; in the intervening years, as van Doorn's career as performer and teacher flourished, she developed educational materials to provide practical advice to singers. Singing from the Inside Out is an amalgam of her musical experiences.

Although the full title of the book is lengthy, it effectively communicates the author's philosophy of voice pedagogy. Classical singing, the author postulates, is a style that is defined to a large degree by external elements, such as the intent of the composer, and an ideal sound that is more uniform than that used in pop singing. Consequently, van Doorn perceives classical singers to be "outside in" singers. A pop or jazz singer, she writes, must always sing with his or her own sound. The voice, its overall expressivity, and interpretation of a specific song must come "from the inside out." This volume is intended to aid singers in developing these characteristics.

The volume begins with an overview of the singing voice in general and guidance in recognizing the qualities of one's voice. Van Doorn explains that while certain traits of a voice are determined by gender, build, and age, it is possible to develop and improve aspects of singing with diligent practice. The author encourages singers to set goals in their study of voice, and also to recognize the importance of the body/mind connection. The explanation of breathing for singing includes exercises that move from speaking to singing, as well as notated vocalises.

The longest of the ten chapters is devoted to technique. It is telling that van Doorn, who is a classically trained pianist, finds it necessary to explain the benefits of practicing to singers. "Few people, even singers," she writes, "realize that the old saying 'practice makes perfect' applies to pop and jazz singers too." She observes that many people assume singing is innate, and are unaware that it is necessary to hone the technical skills needed to sing expressively. Van Doorn presents the fundamentals of vocal technique, such as registration, articulation, and vibrancy, and offers correlated exercises that further clarify the concepts. For instance, the author explains resonance in six succinct paragraphs, and then leads the reader through a series of spoken and sung exercises. Moreover, she refers to previous exercises and uses them to develop other facets. This repurposing not only illustrates that learning is layered, but also saves the singer from having to learn a new vocalise for each concept. Explanations are concise, but thorough. Doorn does not underestimate the reader; she offers detailed information in manageable portions about pertinent topics, from formants to falsetto, and tailors the exercises in a similar fashion.

This clarity is especially useful in the discussion of timbre. Specific anatomic and acoustic terms are used in the description of sound quality. The author describes belting as singing a high note in the modal register loudly with a high larynx. "You can only belt when you sing loud and high," van Doorn states, proffering a more sharply shaped definition of belting than found in some volumes addressed to singers of commercial music. She does not believe that belting occurs when the modal register is taken above [F.sub.4] ("if this were true, then all pop and jazz singers would be belting," she writes), nor does she believe that belting is only the high, penetrating and somewhat harsh sound often used in musicals ("... then you might say that more than half of all pop and jazz singers never belt"). Van Doorn maintains that not all voices are suited for belting, just as there are singers whose voices are not suited to hard rock repertoire. Similarly, in her discussion of growling (she cites Angela Gossow of the "death metal" group Arch Enemy as one of the best known female proponents of the technique), the author states that although there are some singers who can use this technique without strain, it can cause vocal damage if not used properly. Van Doorn's frank discourse on matching repertoire with voice type harks back to the introductory chapter in which she emphasizes the importance of knowing the qualities and capabilities of one's instrument. This chapter devoted to technique closes with directions for warm-ups and a section entitled "Troubleshooting," which lists common problems and possible solutions.

Throughout the book, van Doorn exhibits a facility for organizing concepts into an accessible format that is eminently practical. In the chapter dealing with practice, for instance, the author identifies three phases: learning, exploring, and interpreting. She addresses both the concrete needs (such as a suitable space, a piano or keyboard, and a microphone) as well as the organizational skills needed to practice effectively. She underlines the benefits of mental practice (a concept frequently overlooked by voice pedagogues), and stresses that it is necessary to make time to practice if a singer wants to improve.

Van Doorn includes useful chapters on musical styles, theory, and improvisation. Singers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with a variety of styles through listening to both recordings and live concerts. The author lists representative recordings that exemplify technical skills such as blending registers and improvisation. The latter is the topic of an entire chapter; there are exercises for improvisatory singing, with special emphasis on scat. The section on music theory is not a primer in fundamentals; instead, van Doorn explains why singers should have wide musical knowledge that encompasses transposition, musical notation, scales, modes, and harmony.

An important consideration for contemporary singers is amplification. Pop and jazz singers routinely perform with a microphone, and knowledge of sound systems is invaluable to commercial vocalists. Van Doorn explains the differences between condenser and dynamic microphones, and offers the rudiments of microphone technique. There is a clear introduction to the components of sound systems, from the mixing board and monitors to the amplifier.

A chapter entitled "Putting Your Skills into Practice" encompasses a wide range of topics, from singing while playing an instrument to coping with stage fright. There is tutelage in finding or forming a band, how to give cues, why to wear ear protection, tips for singing backup vocals, developing an on-stage image, costuming, how to speak to audiences, and issues of stage set-up. Van Doorn devotes a section to auditions, including talent shows, and offers frank advice on preparation and performance for these potentially stressful situations. She also presents an overview of recording sessions: how to select a studio, how to prepare, and what to expect. The type and placement of microphones, aspects of multitracking and mixing, and characteristics of open sessions are included. The author also points out the performance challenges in the recording studio, such as overconcentration and lack of patience.

The final section focuses on vocal health. Van Doorn explains the importance of balancing vocal load with vocal capacity, another indication of how important it is to know one's voice. She offers advice for vocal hygiene, and identifies indications that require consultation with a health professional. Finally, she shares her protocol for keeping her voice healthy. The recommendations are eminently practical and drawn from the author's experiences.

Indeed, the trait of practicality is prevalent throughout the volume. Van Doorn effectively draws upon her career as performer and educator to formulate an essential handbook for the jazz or pop singer. The author has taught students at a variety of levels, and is currently on faculty at the ArtEZ Conservatorium in Arnhem (the Netherlands) and serves on the board of the European Voice Teachers Association (EVTA). Her professional credits are extensive, and she received the equivalent of the Dutch Grammy award in 2001. Singing from the Inside Out: Exploring the Voice, the Singer and the Song. A Practical Guide for the Expressive Singer is the tenth volume in a series of academic titles published by ArtEZ press. It is a well organized and useful guide to singers interested in commercial music.

Robinson-Martin, Trineice. So You Want to Sing Gospel: A Guide for Performers. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016. A Project of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Paper, xxv, 250 pp., $37.00. ISBN 978-1-4422-3920-3 eBook $35.00 ISBN 978-1-4422-3921-0 www.rowman.com

In So You Want to Sing Gospel: A Guide for Performers, Trineice Robinson-Martin offers both a brief history of gospel music and instruction in singing gospel. From the opening pages, the author underlines that gospel music is not merely "a genre or style, but a reflection of a specific aspect of the black religious experience." Although gospel traces its lineage to work songs, spirituals, hymns, blues, jazz, soul, rhythm and blues (R & B), and hip hop, it is not intended for entertainment, but for ministry. Both performers and pedagogues must approach the music with an awareness that the spiritual aspect of gospel is paramount.

Robinson-Martin begins by identifying four essential components of black gospel music aesthetics: sound quality (which is often gravelly), musical style or techniques (alterations of time, text, and pitch), delivery style (including clapping, facial expression, and apparel), and spirit. Regarding the last aspect, the author states, "Energized worship cannot be taught, only acquired." Authentic gospel singers do not slip into a style, as one would a coat, but embrace the spiritual intensity of praise and religious renewal.

A brief overview of the development of gospel music begins with its roots, which can be found in the earliest black religious music in the United States. Slaves converted to Christianity shaped the doctrine to their own experiences, and incorporated African rhythms and movement into their worship music. The Great Awakening (1740-1800) saw an increased emphasis on religion in the American colonies, and the camp meetings of the 1800s produced song forms such as the shout, which incorporated dance. As the style developed, there was a reluctance of black churches aligned with traditional religions, such as Methodist and Baptist, to embrace the charismatic music of the Holiness and Pentecostal churches. A notable exception was Charles Tindley (1851-1933), a charismatic Methodist minister who wrote several well known gospel hymn standards such as "Stand by Me" and the song that would become the basis for "We shall Overcome."

It was not until 1930 that gospel music was officially sanctioned by the National Baptist Convention. During the golden era of gospel music, which spanned the 1920s through the 1960s, several individuals were highly influential in its development. Thomas A. Dorsey (1899-1993) is widely regarded as the father of gospel music; not only did he inject elements of blues into his arrangements of traditional white hymns, but he also wrote new works that reflected African American aesthetics. Two of his most famous pieces are "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" and "There will be Peace in the Valley." The latter was written for Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972), who is considered a stylistic pioneer for gospel singers.

Subsequent eras in gospel have been characterized by a growing presence in the popular music market and increased influence of other styles such as jazz and R & B; both developments are evidenced by the commercial success of "Oh Happy Day" in 1969. Andrae Crouch (1942-2015) is recognized as the father of modern gospel music because he helped to integrate contemporary Christian music with traditional gospel. He wrote famous songs such as "Soon and Very Soon," and was successful in commercial music, collaborating with notable artists such as Paul Simon and Michael Jackson.

Gospel singing pedagogy must be approached with the understanding that the church is the primary traditional teaching method, and voice teachers are considered secondary sources of instruction. Robinson-Martin identifies four pillars of gospel music pedagogy. The first is anatomic awareness. Many of the topics relevant to physiology and function are presented by Scott McCoy in the chapter discussing voice science, but the author reiterates important principles in her discussion of pedagogy. The second component, which Robinson labels as vocal fitness training, is vocal technique, and encompasses posture, breathing, onsets, registration, resonance, and articulation. The author incorporates the spiritual context of gospel music into her discussion of pedagogy. For instance, when addressing tongue tension, she offers instructions for physical exercises as well as biblical references to taming the tongue. The third component of pedagogy is specific technical skills demanded by gospel, including vocal quality, timbre, agility, vibrancy, and dynamic intensity. Voice texture is an important consideration; sounds can range from breathy to gravelly, and the latter encompasses growls, whoops, and squalls (a short yell with a rough quality). Robinson-Martin offers vocalises employing both the major and minor pentatonic scale to prepare the singer for improvisation.

An entire chapter is devoted to style interpretation, which is the fourth component of gospel pedagogy. Many factors influence sound and style, ranging from the singer's individual attributes to the influences of the geographic region and denomination. The author catalogues and explains the improvisatory tools used by gospel singers, including nonharmonic tones and traditional ornamentation such as portamento, glissando, and appoggiatura. As in jazz, gospel singers will scat; however, unlike jazz singers, they use only one or two syllables. Other tools in the interpretive arsenal are improvisation with the text, and rhythmic variations such as back phrasing and syncopation. A useful feature of this section is a summary of the types of sacred music used in the black church. Additionally, Robinson-Martin identifies genres of gospel music, provides representative performances, and refers readers to recorded examples on a correlated website.

As mentioned earlier, the fundamental aspect of authentic gospel is spirituality. In the chapter entitled "Gospel in Context," Robinson-Martin emphasizes that gospel singers are first and foremost ministers. True gospel music is not entertainment, but the communication of deeply held religious beliefs. Although she recognizes that gospel is sung for other reasons, both inside and outside church settings, the author urges gospel singers to approach the music from a devotional perspective. To that end, she offers suggested repertoire correlated to the liturgical calendar, as well as songs appropriate for funerals and weddings

In her advice for professional singers, the author recommends good vocal hygiene, including sufficient hydration, warm-up and cool down regimens, and proper rest. She also urges singers to carefully monitor vocal strain and fatigue, for when gospel singers are "singing in the Spirit... proper vocal technique is no longer a priority." There are suggestions for choir directors and choristers for successful rehearsals, and voice teachers are reminded that, although their role is secondary to that of the church, the teaching studio is a necessary platform for development.

So You Want to Sing is a series of books produced under the auspices of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), and is comprised of volumes devoted to a genre. The first, So You Want to Sing Music Theater by Karen Hall, was published in 2014 (reviewed in JOS 71, no. 2 [November/December 2014]: 254-256). Other volumes in the series include So You Want to Sing Rock 'n' Roll by Matthew Edwards (2014; reviewed in JOS 71, no. 5 [May/June 2015]), So You Want to Sing Jazz by Jan Shapiro (2015; reviewed JOS 73, no. 1 [September/October 2016]), and So You Want to Sing Country by Kelly K. Garner (2017; reviewed in JOS 74, no. 1 [September/October 2017]). Two chapters appear in every book: the previously mentioned section by McCoy explaining voice science, physiology, anatomy, and function, and an essay by Wendy LeBorgne addressing vocal health. In So You Want to Sing Gospel, LeBorgne tailors her discourse on vocal health to the specific challenges posed by the high vocal demands of the gospel singer, and identifies the propensity of these singers to rely more upon the church than pedagogues for voice instruction. She points out that choristers frequently develop vocal fatigue because they sing only on Sunday without vocalizing during the week; another taxing time is the holidays, when the duration and intensity of singing increases in combination with more social activity. A third chapter on amplification and microphones, written by Matthew Edwards, appears in most of the volumes, including this book.

The information offered in the book is wide ranging and useful. Robinson-Martin's single misstep is a generalization she makes in a comparative definition of gospel music.
Gospel music is not like classical art music, musical theatre, or other
genres in which the singer must learn to interpret his or her own
emotions though the emotional intent of a given composer or character.
Gospel music is a medium for the personal expression of one's own
emotions, experiences, and convictions.


A singer who is immersed in an operatic role or art song would take umbrage at the implication that the emotions they are plumbing are not intensely personal. Singers in all genres are encouraged to draw upon their life experiences to shape interpretation and expressivity. Authentic performances in any style begin with authentic emotions.

Overall, however, Robinson-Martin offers an excellent introduction to both the history and performance of gospel music. She explains the technical aspects in clear and accurate terms, and articulates the important role of faith and devotion. The volume is recommended reading for anyone interested in exploring gospel music.
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Author:Greschner, Debra
Publication:Journal of Singing
Article Type:Book review
Date:Nov 1, 2017
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