Archive for the ‘Russian’ Category

russian_art_song

I got wind of the Russian Art Song website via the Diction Police Facebook Page and the Your Accompanist Twitter feed (thanks, you two!).  The site is by Dr. Anton Belov, a baritone who hails from Russia.  Resources include (from the description on the home page):

  • IPA transcriptions and word for word translations
  • Song lyrics read by a native speaker
  • Multimedia online diction manuals
  • Vintage common domain sound recordings (how to access audio files)
  • Scores (for reference only)
  • Biographical information

Also check their About page for links to other websites related to Russian opera and song.

One especially outstanding resource on the site is A Guide to Russian Diction, a 67-page book available as a free PDF download.

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Last Thursday I had the pleasure of meeting for coffee with Dan Molkentin, co-founder and co-artistic director of SingersBabel, the subscription-based website with lyric diction resources. He happened to be in town for the Music Library Association conference, so we took the opportunity to get together and talk shop. I knew at once that he was a kindred spirit when our conversation ranged from web technology stacks, media workflows, and website project management, to textual discrepancies in different composers’ setting of the same poems, Italianate vs. German Latin, and whether we should be rolling or vanishing our final R’s in German.

One piece of SingersBabel news that Dan shared was that they will be introducing Russian resources to the website in coming weeks. The resources will include multimedia guides for learning the basic sounds of the language, as well as guides for specific texts and repertoire. Speaking of repertoire, Dan tells me that the repertoire guides on the site will focus on choral works and oratorio, with a bit of art song to boot. (Although I REALLLLY hope – pretty please – that they’ll consider bringing some opera people on board to produce diction resources for the operatic repertoire and Italian. There’s an untapped market there, and even if they just did the arias from those ubiquitous Larsen anthologies, I bet they’d get business from a bunch of vocal performance majors and the like.)

We also talked about the recent SingersBabel website testing program, which I participated in.  One thing that I discovered in the course of testing is that the website has many more resources than I thought; it’s just that they’re hard to find (and the SingersBabel team is working to rectify that).  A sampling of notable resources:

Dan shared some other online music resources with me as well.  One of them, Peachnote, is something I’ve been meaning to check out for a while.  From what I’ve gathered, Peachnote is a provider of a number of interesting music technologies, but one that particularly attracted Dan’s interest was Peachnote’s platform for collaborative online multimedia annotation of music scores.  In plain English, that means that you can use Peachnote’s score viewer to annotate the score with your own text, audio, or video notes and also view annotations that others have added.  Here’s a screen capture of Peachnote’s score viewer with annotations:

peachnote_score_viewer

Peachnote also makes it possible to embed the score viewer in your own website, and in fact the viewer is already in use over at IMSLP with a number of scores.  For example, you can go to the IMSLP page for Le nozze di Figaro, navigate to the full score for the overture, and click the “View” button:

peachnote_viewer_on_imslp

The Peachnote viewer then displays the score, which someone has annotated with a YouTube video recording of a performance of the overture:

figaro_overture_in_peachnote

Dan also tipped me off to the Sparks and Wiry Cries blog and e-zine about art song.  (I can’t believe I’ve never stumbled upon this.)  From their masthead: “Our mission is to provide a virtual home for the art song community: performers, students, scholars and fans. We endeavor to provoke thoughtful discussion about the extraordinary art of song.”  One of their contributors is Emily Ezust, creator and maintainer of The Lied, Art Song, and Choral Texts Archive, and they have a number of other notable contributors as well.

sparks_and_wiry_cries

Lastly, Dan mentioned Medici TV, a French website which offers free live broadcasting of concerts, operas, and ballets along with video on demand from their catalog of concerts and classical music documentaries.

medici_tv

Thank you, Dan, for our engaging and enlightening conversation, and best of luck with the SingersBabel venture!

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I’ve been working on some song & aria translations lately and have needed to check the pronunciation for various words.  I own a modest collection of printed dictionaries with IPA at home, but was curious about whether this information is available online.  Here’s a roundup of online dictionaries I found that use IPA:

Italian

French

German

Russian

Czech

English

Note, of course, that the dictionaries above don’t take into account all of the rules of lyric diction (e.g. avoiding uvular R), but they do come in handy when checking things like open vs. closed vowels.  Also, with noted exceptions, the dictionaries listed have audio pronunciation examples for selected words.

Another FYI: WordReference.com has iOS/Android apps, but the IPA (for selected languages) is only on the full website, not the apps.  I’d like to do a survey of online/offline dictionary apps with IPA in a future blog post – if you’re aware of any, please let me know.

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The Diction Police logo

The Diction Police podcast is, in my humble opinion, a must-have resource for every singer.  The host, Ellen Rissinger, is a coach on the music staff of the Semperoper in Dresden.  She invites native speakers who are singers, conductors, or coaches to read aloud the texts of arias or art songs in the standard repertoire (and sometimes not-so-standard repertoire).  Then they have a discussion about the basic pronunciation rules, the finer points of diction, the most common mistakes non-native speakers make, and diction issues where experts may have differing opinions.

The podcast covers the standard languages of Italian, German, and French and has also ventured into Russian, Czech, Hungarian, Swedish, Norwegian, Spanish, and British and American English.

The podcast’s website has several useful indexes–you can browse episodes by language as well as by aria/song title, and there is an episode guide.  It’s really useful for both general language/diction learning as well as polishing specific arias.

One thing I really like about the podcast is that Ms. Rissinger starts off most episodes with a short segment featuring study tips and career/life advice for musicians.  It’s delivered in a friendly, non-preachy way and is usually accompanied by personal anecdotes of her own successes and screw-ups(!)–kind of like “things I wish I’d known when I started out.”

Also, her Seven Steps to Learn Music are my gold standard for learning repertoire.

The Diction Police podcast is an incredibly rich resource, and I think it speaks to Ms. Rissinger’s expertise, love of lifelong learning, and generosity of spirit that she produces it and makes it available for FREE.  It is a great gift to the world of singers.

You can subscribe to The Diction Police through iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher app  (I use DoggCatcher on my Android phone).