Speak me a song: The study and application of modified Sprechstimme production in a selection of French and German art songs by Kurt Weill
Smithwick, Marie Louise
Vocal versatility is a necessity for modern performers. From classical to musical theater to Contemporary Commercial Music, performers are widening their repertoire dossiers to become more marketable. Versatility is imperative for the modern-day performer, and Kurt Weill best exemplifies this versatility imperative. Weill devoted much of his career to the fusing of artistic mediums, such as music and theater. This work led him to write vocal music that contains a plethora of different vocal opportunities, and an immense amount of vocal opportunity is present in his art song repertoire. However, Weill’s art songs are significantly underresearched, so this study aims to unveil information about his song repertoire and analyze the vocal variety that exists within each song. One such opportunity exists in the form of a Sprechstimme-based vocal production called modified Sprechstimme production. Modified Sprechstimme production is a term that is unique to this study, and it is Sprechstimme production with some adjustments. These adjustments include the implementation of accurate pitch, approximated rhythm, vocal slides, vibrato, and unconventional notation. Most of these elements may be found in Weill’s art songs. In this dissertation, modified Sprechstimme production will be applied to and analyzed in four of Kurt Weill’s art songs, including “Klopslied,” “Der Abschiedsbrief,” Complainte de la Seine,” and “Je ne t’aime pas.” The analysis will allow performers to feel less vocally restricted and more confident in their use of speech-like singing. By applying modified Sprechstimme production to modern vocal repertoire, current performers will become more vocally versatile and attain pedagogical and artistic benefits from speech-like singing. Preparatory vocalises based in modified Sprechstimme production are also included at the end of the study to help performers gain vocal familiarity and solidify their understanding of speech-like singing.