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What is it called when...

I am working on my student teaching work sample and am trying to use precise language. Is there a proper term for what I usually call sprinkler consonants? That is, when a choir does not articulate their consonants together, giving a "t t t" after words like sat, or "s s s" after peace?
I appreciate any input. I tried to google the information, but without the correct term, it can be hard to find the correct term!
Replies (10): Threaded | Chronological
on December 18, 2014 9:18pm
I don't think there's one technical term for this. Your safest bet would probably be to call it "imprecise final consonants" or something to that effect. As long as you describe it as you do here there shouldn't be any confusion about what you're refering to. 
Applauded by an audience of 2
on February 8, 2015 12:49pm
Thanks! that was really useful
on December 19, 2014 12:29am
I am not sure if there is a special term for that or not.
But in the orchestral context, the timing of pizzicato from a string section (or rhtymical things in general) could be tight or loose.
So, I sometime would say "oh, that was a very loose consonant.
on December 19, 2014 5:55am
In case a humorous alternative to a precise term would be useful ... I recall that Peter Schickele (aka P.D.Q. Bach) once referred to a similar phenomenon as "diction friction."
Martin Morell
Applauded by an audience of 1
on December 19, 2014 1:47pm
something like "popcorn" usually makes the point with the singers..... and I tell them that the problem is that their diction is SO good that it creates the problem when it is not together.....
Applauded by an audience of 1
on February 8, 2015 5:13pm
And the fix is...rhythmic accuracy.  
"That final "T" has a place with in the meter, within the linguistic sentance, within the word." Experiment with saying the text in unison as language. Say it in unison in the rhythm of the music as written. Tap the rhythmic subdivision on your knee: where does the "T" go. Is it together. It's not so hard."All you have to do is PAY ATTENTION!   S
Applauded by an audience of 1
on February 9, 2015 6:06am
The terms I learned years ago were "attacks" and "releases", when occuring at the beginning and ends of the phrase.  They are still valuable working with the barbershop chorus I work with, now.
on February 9, 2015 7:20am
Marianne, the suggestions given for its label are just fine.  While citing the correct vocabulary is important, it is nevertheless, more important for communication to take place.  Stephen Stomps takes it one step further and I suggest that is required.  If you are communicating with student teachers, or a teacher, it is insufficient to address that this problem exists.  It is also important to consider why it exists.  Robert Shaw continually addressed this problem.  Stephen hints at the solution Shaw offered.  Shaw continually had the choir before him sing using counting numbers and counting sounds.  Consonants had to be placed exactly at a rhythmic point.  I worked with Page during his Philadelphia years ( and he would often comment about "dental" and "palatal" consonants.  To Page, it was just as important to have the consonant made in the mouth correctly as it was to have the consonant made at the precise rhythmic point.  Page would also be quick to instruct that ALL things that a choir performs or does not perform correctly are the responsibility of the conductor, that communication is not solely achieved in what a conductor says, but also in how one conducts.  Lawrence Kaptein would join Page in having you analyze what in your conducting was causing your sprinkler consonants.  Therefore, look to the conductor for correct physical placement of the consonants and the correct timing of the consonants.  I would go one step further: do you practice consonant performance in your warm-ups?  My warm-ups always include changing the traditional words of a warm-up to consonants usage. Practice still makes things perfect.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on February 9, 2015 9:41am
John, I vaguely recall a comment by the dirrector of the summer music camp I attended 50 years ago, that Robert Shaw instructed only the back row of singers to apply final "s" consonants.  Do know any details of this?  It may have been someone else.  I remember our director referring to Fred Waring frequently, but I think this incident was about Shaw.  Was it his standard practice, or only for certain musical situations or choirs?  Has anyone else heard of this?  I'm just curious about this musical anecdote.
on February 9, 2015 5:21pm
I suggest to Bart Brush that it was Fred Waring who assigned the s to the back row.  In the 1940's, my church choral director was Ralph Freese who had been a radio announcer and in vaudeville.  He attended workshops with Fred Waring and shared Waring's tips on diction.  It is Waring who designated only a few people to sing the s sounds and consonants with plosives .  This was because the recording technology of the day could not filter out the distortions of the s and of plosives.  To this day, I ask my singers who are unsure of the s placement to skip the sound entirely.  In any performance there is always more s sound than is needed for the audience to understand the words, anyway.  My choir is a community group of adults who came to me with limited choral skill development.  We work on diction skills constantly, but sometimes the old habits cannot be entirely banished.  A few of my singers are not allowed to sing the word, Christmas, for example.  When they see the s, their mouths goes crazy and rush right to a hiss.  Thus, they dutifully sing "We wish you a merry kri - mas," having crossed out the s.  Marianne's students are lucky to be taught the placement of consonants early in their choral careers.
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