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The Fine Art Of Enunciation

Fine enunciation is to song what perfect mintage is to coins. As a mere matter of art, every word should be as distinct in its vocal elements as a coin fresh from the mint. Having stated this absolute rule for sacred song, a writer in the New York “Evangelist” proceeds to emphasize his contention:

“It is positively inartistic so to slur, distort, and mangle the vocal elements of the words used in this portion of divine worship that their meaning can not be instantly and surely detected. Poor enunciation is bad art. An indistinct, misleading musical utterance of the sacred language of hymn or anthem is akin to artistic, if not to religious, blasphemy. It is, moreover, needless. Musical elocution is a necessary part of a singer’s education. If a vocal teacher slights it, he does not know his business. Ignorance or failure in this branch should disqualify a candidate for a choir engagement.

”Teachers and students alike may make this part of their art a delight to themselves, as well as a blessing to all future hearers. Having learned the simple lessons of vowel and consonant values, they will find artistic pleasure in giving to them the delicate distinctness and absolute truth which will make them perfect mediums of the soul of sacred meaning in the words of religious song. This alone is worth all the needed discipline of ear, cheek, lip, tongue, palate, and larynx. When the fine gold of pure tone is thus minted into perfectly uttered syllables, words, and sentences, the artistic sense is satisfied, and the real end of this branch of sacred art is fulfilled. The possibilities of vocal church music will remain unrealized so long as the inartistic slovenliness of enunciation too prevalent in churches of every name shall continue. It is too much to hope that choir committees will insist that those they engage to lead the vocalized devotions of the people shall so perform their duty that the congregation may know whither they are being led.”


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You are reading The Fine Art Of Enunciation from the July, 1898 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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