Learning to pronounce lyrics in a foreign language can take some effort, especially if the language in question is very different from your own, but there are some very good reasons to put in the extra work. Here are 7 reasons why it is a good idea to get the pronunciation right when you sing in a foreign language:
- Comprehension: If your audience happens to include people who speak the language in which the lyrics are written, good pronunciation will ensure that they can understand the words you are singing. They will be able to appreciate both the music and the lyrics of the piece, and therefore be more likely to enjoy your performance.
- Singing skills: Singing new, unfamiliar sounds expands the range of nuances that your voice is able to produce. Singing coaches often start their warm-ups with exercises asking people to sing in funny voices and make unusual sounds. In the same way, singing in a foreign language makes you more aware of your voice’s potential and gives you better control of your vocal instrument.
- Musical consistency: When a vocal piece is well written, melody and rhythm are a reflection of the melody and rhythm of the spoken lyrics. If you pronounce the vowels in the way they were meant to sound, they will ring with harmonics, and rhymes will naturally slide into the melody. An awareness of the correct stressing of spoken words and sentences will help you get the most out of the stresses and dynamics in the music. You will find that the piece just comes together and makes sense.
- Language skills: Needless to say, singing in a language does improve your pronunciation in the language in question, provided that you take care to pronounce the lyrics correctly. Language teachers are well aware of this and often use songs to teach pronunciation.
- Artistic integrity: Lyricists and composers often put their hearts into their work as they try to create the best fit between lyrics and music. By making sure that you pronounce the lyrics as they were meant to be heard you are showing your respect for the creators’ hard work. After all, they rely on singers like you to bring their piece to life and it is only fair that you give it your best.
- Professionalism: No matter how well executed a piece may be in terms of voice quality, intonation and dynamics; if the pronunciation is sloppy the quality of the performance will inevitably suffer. Good pronunciation tells listeners that you have done your homework and tackled the piece as professionals do. It is one of the many signals that singers can send to their audience to make their performance stand out.
- Self satisfaction: The greater a challenge, the more satisfaction you get when you succeed. It is very satisfying to hear yourself sing perfectly pronounced lyrics and to know that the piece is coming together thanks to your careful execution. Remember you do not need to be able to speak a language in order to pronounce it well. Once you have nailed it, pronunciation is thoroughly enjoyable and each new song will be more fun!