These days the song lyric count per bar norm is - more often than not - as many as one can possibly fit in. You'd think songwriters were being paid by the word! (not.) And that's cool; some of these lyrical tomes are skillfully crafted and are great fun. However, ALL lyrics need to be singable and understandable to grab the heart's attention. Three cornerstone factors that matter to singing word-count-intensive songs are:
- and articulation
TEMPOFor this cornerstone, here's a refrigerator magnet I'd like to give out:
Never sing faster than your words can fly - or slower than your breath can control!When you sing too fast, you sabotage...
- your breath (you don't have time to take one and your ribs don't expand enough to control one),
- your throat (your jaw and tongue will tighten, your eye language will freeze, your neck will stiffen and head probably will drift forward)
- your performance (the lines will form run-on sentences with few dynamic and communicative nuances)
- your breath (you run out of it, your ribs can't maintain width enough to control it),
- your throat (you can open it but then find it hard to keep it from collapsing),
- your performance (you are too concerned with your uncontrolled voice to be present with the message, and can't pump up enough energy to create magic).
Voiced consonants, especially 'n', ng', 'r' tend to tighten the base of the tongue, resulting in the strangled feeling/sound. If a singer knows how, they can use a slight chewing circle to keep these vowels open in the back and consonants formed more forward in the mouth.
Also, some words don't butt up against other words well. Save the 'tongue tanglers' for vocal exercises! Dear songwriters: If the words don't feel good coming out of your (or your singer's) mouth on the melody, there's almost always singable ones you can substitute that are just as strong!
WHY DO WE SING TOO SLOW?
WHY DO WE SING TOO FAST?
HOW TO CHOOSE TEMPOS:
STEADY AS SHE GOESAnd one last VERY important tip: If you play guitar or piano and sing acoustically, PRACTICE WITH A STEADY BEAT via metronome, click track or instrumental track with drums! Far too often, I hear people playing at the tempo their fingers want to, speeding up through choruses and making it just about impossible to sing the lyrics clearly and passionately. And playing with a drummer? Forget about it. Take my advice: Choose the right tempo, and practice to a steady beat at that tempo.
IF YOU GET VERY GOOD... at singing a lot of lyrics, you might use the irony of the difficulty to create an awesome live-show stunner such as this gem from Liz Callaway :
Your thoughts are most welcome!