At 12:57 AM -0400 7/21/12, Christopher Smith wrote:
>Thanks for the quick answer. The reason I'm
>asking is because my friendly local dictionary
>doesn't have these words hyphenated the way they
>are pronounced in this context.
Agreed. But that was actually my point. The
dictionary hyphenation is "standard" (if there is
any such thing!). Breaking up words beyond that
standard is asking for trouble when singers try
to read them. I brought up Sinatra because what
he did with words, syllables, and individual
phonemes was an artistic triumph, but if you try
to transcribe precisely what he did on paper it
turns into gobbledegook. Hyphenating
artificially makes words hard to identify.
>I would have absolutely put
>normally-one-syllable words like "howl" (rhymes
>with "vowel") on a slur, but every last one of
>these examples is repeated pitches on eighth
>notes and my music teacher brain starts to
>bubble with two eighths of the same pitch on the
>same beat with a slur that looks like a tie.
Well, this doesn't apply directly, but I need to
mention that in Italian (which most serious
singers will be VERY familiar with) there are
often diphthongs (2 separate phonemes) set to a
single note, and the knowledgeable singer KNOWS
that it's necessary to divide that note in two
even when it isn't notated that way. I'm not
suggesting that it's the same in English, but it
is a precedent.
As to "howl" and "vowel," they are pronounced
similarly only in sloppy conversational speech,
but pronounced differently by a singer, who has
to stretch the vowels in time to fill time. "l"
has no vowel; "el" does. It's that simple.
(Actually the 2 last phonemes in "howl" are "oo"
and "lll," run together, but put that on paper
and no one will recognize it.)
>I need to make "attire" look like it rhymes with
>"Meyer", which is definitely two syllables and
>on repeating eighth notes.
It already rhymes. That doesn't necessarily mean
that it has to have the same number of individual
syllables. Again, this is something that singers
(and poets!) are very much aware of.
>About the m-dash: according to Simon and
>Schuster's Guide to Writing (Canadian Edition),
>the dash can be used to indicate contrast, e.g.,
>"Trust-but verify" or "Vote early-and often." In
>my case, the line is a punch line that is at
>odds with the setup (it happens 3 other times in
>other verses). I didn't write it, but I have to
I'll bow on that one. It just didn't look right
to me--which is my usual criterion (and which
invited me to use an m-dash!!!).
Please understand, I'm arguing from a singer's
viewpoint here, as to what will be clear, what
will be ambiguous, and what will be completely
confusing. Getting artsy with the English
language is dangerous when it makes the wording
unclear. If you're James Joyce or Ogden Nash,
that's one thing, but if you want to communicate
with your singers it's another.