Voice: What is Diction?

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. We’re taught early on that the context of the words matters as much if not more than the actual content. This is true for both speech as well as singing. Diction is the ability to articulate your words so that people can understand you.

So how exactly do you get better at diction and what role does diction play in music? We’ll discuss that in this article.


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Being clearer with your speech requires practice. It is another technique you must master in order to improve your vocal quality. Here are some steps you can take to improve your speech clarity.

1. Enunciate Consonants

Mumbling over your words can make you difficult to understand. Practice over exaggerating your consonants to help improve the clarity of your words.

2. Practice Tongue Twisters

Tongue twisters are another way to force you to articulate your words better. By improving your vocal dexterity you’ll improve your ability to be heard in a clear way.

3. Slow Down

If you can’t do it right slow, you can’t do it right fast. Slowing down is an important part of any practice or exercise. Slow down your words when you’re practicing and you’ll be clearer at full speed.

4. Open Your Mouth More

Many vocalists get tense when singing causing them to restrict their muscles. In addition to closing their vocal folds more, they also close their mouth more. For clearer words and better air flow, try opening your mouth more when you sing.


Clarity vs. Style

Clarity is important but different genres have certain ways of pronouncing words. This aspect of music should not be overlooked by a vocalist. If you are trying to learn a song outside your normal field, pay special attention to how singers say their words.

An easy example is country music. Country is very particular about what’s allowed to be considered a country song. What guitars you used, what chords you play, what you wear, and of course that country twang when you sing it. If you’re trying to be a country singer, you have to have that country boy our country girl voice down.

This can be a tough concept for some people. I’ve seen a lot of very good choir vocalists try to do another style of music and not really make the transition. It’s not that they don’t have the range but they sound out of place because they sound like they’re singing choir at a rock concert.

When you sing a song, you are trying to take people to a place. You are essentially an actor. It’s not just enough to say the lines. You have to play the part too. You have to become the person in the song. Practice getting that diction right and you’ll be amazed how much that helps you fit right in.

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