Singing in Style


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A Guide to Vocal Performance Practices

Martha Elliott

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The first historical overview of vocal performance practice and style ever published, Singing In Style provides an introduction to how such issues as ornamentation, vibrato, rubato, portamento, articulation, tempo, language, and accompaniment with period instruments have been handled since the seventeenth century. Each chapter presents a historical period and gives background information on the singers and composers, the vocal repertoire, and the stylistic conventions of that time. Specific repertoire examples are discussed as well, to show how to use the music itself as a context for making stylistic choices. Each chapter also has an extensive reference list arranged by topic, so the interested reader can pursue a particular subject in more depth.

Covering the Baroque period to the present, Elliott casts a wide net, bringing together information from historical treatises, personal accounts from composers, performers, historians, critics, and current scholarly commentary into one convenient handbook for the student and the amateur and professional performer who want to learn more about how vocal works were sung in their day.

Martha Elliott has established a reputation as a dynamic singer with a diverse repertoire. She has performed throughout the world and is on the performance faculty at Princeton University.

"This is just the kind of book I wish I'd had access to when I was a student, but I am still ever so grateful to benefit from it now.  It is thorough, thoughtful, inclusive, and a real joy to read.  I know I'll be referring to Singing In Style frequently in the years to come . . . not to mention recommending it to countless others."—Dawn Upshaw, soprano

"Singing in Style opens the door for singers to a better understanding of how to put more thought into their performances of the past four hundred years of song. In some cases, Elliott raises useful questions herself; then she gives us tools and resources for finding the answers. I wish such a book had been available when I was a student."—Drew Minter, countertenor

"Full of information which enlightens our interpretive choices, Singing In Style is a most welcome resource and a must read for our profession."—Lucy Shelton, soprano

"A very important addition to the field. I recommend it to students and teachers."—Paul Sperry, Manhattan School of Music

"Well-researched information on performance practice of every major century in one volume. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this wonderful book."—Phyllis Bryn-Julson, Peabody Conservatory of Music, Johns Hopkins University

"Elliott's self-styled 'handbook' will be an asset to teachers and students in voice programs that emphasize versatility and comfort with a wide range of repertoire. Opera students will find useful information here on portamento, transposition, breathing and dynamic markings."—Judith Malafronte, Opera News

"An indispensable guide for singers, pianists and teachers. Written from a singer’s viewpoint, Singing in Style raises a host of important issues, addressing them with clarity and insight."—Brian Zeger, Artistic Director of Vocal Arts, Juilliard School

Selected as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2006 by Choice Magazine
ISBN: 9780300136326
Publication Date: July 1, 2008
368 pages, 6-1/8 x 9-1/4
84 music examples