Understanding French Verse: A Guide for Singers

Hardcover | March 1, 2005

byDavid Hunter

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Advice to young singers often follows the standard line of the great French singer Claire Croiza: "Study the poem away from the music, so that you know what the words really mean." But Croiza's advice is notoriously difficult to follow when performing French melodies. Just how do you approacha French poem? In the lyric poetry on which the melodie is based, meaning is conveyed not just through the words but also through the poem's formal structure. Understanding French Verse: A Guide for Singers explains this formal structure and sets out the basics of French versification, using examples drawn from a wide range of well-known song settings. Its chapters examine French meters, stanzaic forms, sonnets, rondels and other fixed forms, rhyme andsound patterning, and free verse poems. Written in a clear and concise way, it explains the Alexandrine, how to distinguish different meters by counting syllables, and how to identify stresses in French verse. The book also illustrates how rhyme works and the ways in which a French sonnet differsfrom its counterpart in English. And it demonstrates how the understanding of verse techniques enhances the interpretation and enjoyment of the melodie. The book also offers valuable resources, including a brief history of French versification, detailed analysis of several poems, a glossary oftechnical terms, and suggestions for further reading. While other books help singers with French diction, or offer translations of French texts, no other book helps a singer understand the meaning behind what they are singing. Understanding French Verse is an essential tool for singers, accompanists, and other musicians who want to understand moreabout the French texts with which they are working. It also provides a useful basic introduction to students of French poetry.

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From the Publisher

Advice to young singers often follows the standard line of the great French singer Claire Croiza: "Study the poem away from the music, so that you know what the words really mean." But Croiza's advice is notoriously difficult to follow when performing French melodies. Just how do you approacha French poem? In the lyric poetry on which ...

David Hunter is a graduate of Oxford University, where he specialized in 19th and 20th century French poetry. He is currently studying the verse of the melodie as part of a postgraduate degree. He is a keen amateur singer and collects rare recordings of French song.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:144 pages, 5.71 × 8.39 × 1.1 inPublished:March 1, 2005Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195177169

ISBN - 13:9780195177169

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

1. Why This Guide?2. The Basics of the French Line3. Common French Meters4. Stanzas5. Sonnets, rondels, and other fixed forms6. Rhyme7. Free verseAppendix 1. Commentaries on four poemsAdieux de l'hotesse arabeLe colibriEn sourdineMontparnasseAppendix 2. Poems and songs discussed in the guideAppendix 3. A brief history of French versificationGlossary of technical termsNotesSuggestions for further readingIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Without a doubt, the vocal world has been waiting for this volume. To us, what the author labels 'the apparent mysteries of French verse' are not apparent but real, and they are certainly mysterious. I myself have set out to fathom this complex body of knowledge at least four times andarrived nowhere. With the aid of this book I feel I could actually learn what those arcane rules really signify and what they can contribute to my interpretation of French melodie. It's stimulating also, an extra joy for the reader."--Shirlee Emmons, author of The Art of the Song Recital and PowerPerformance for Singers