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Melisma for à french choir

Greeting everyone, 
 
I'm facing a difficult problem with my french choir: How to sing a melisma clearly. 
Since there is no "h" sound in french (as in house or hike), they are totally incapable of "h"-ing a string of notes. 
We are singing Mozart Requiem soon and the fugue (kyrie) sounds blurry, sticky, like glissando, no articulation or definition whatsoever. 
I've tried to teach them how to "h", but, being an aging choir, the task is ever harder. 
Any ideas? Technical advise? 
Please help!  
Thanks in advance for your valuable advises!
Carlos
 
Replies (3): Threaded | Chronological
on February 12, 2015 9:29am
The "h" sound is not essential (even undesirable). What you are looking for is clear articulation of the short-note runs. What you might do: have them start with "ta" (for rhythmic precision), then sing it on "ah" (or another neutral vowel) completely staccato, then use the words, still staccato. Start at a slower tempo, then gradually speed it up. If you're looking for a separation between the short notes, that's essentially the same as staccato. You just have to make sure they aren't creating the staccato by closing off their vocal apparatus.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on February 13, 2015 1:21pm
Thank you Allen, 
 
I'm not talking about a large, airy "h" sound... just a little cut in the airflow... now, if I tell them to sing on "ah" staccato, they wil attack every note with a diaphragm thrust and that's what is indesirable. The melisma should be sung with a *single* diaphragm thurst articulating the notes in the throat... how to do that is the question (I know myself how to, but but not my french choir with no sense of an "h") 
 
Thank you
Carlos
 
on February 14, 2015 8:51am
The French actually have two ways to treat H: silent, as in l'hôpital, and "aspiré," as in le hibou (note the lack of elision between the article and the noun in the latter). The "h aspiré" isn't really aspirated like an English H, but more like a glottal stop. Ask one of them to demonstrate for you. That type of H might be more like what you're looking for. Ask them to sing the music using the word haut, which starts with that sort of H, on each note.
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