Well, I’m on another airplane, so it’s time to write some articles! I’m on my way back from the 2009 ICCA Finals in New York, which will probably go down in aca-lore as “the day MTV took over”.
While judging the finals, I noticed something that also bugs me in recordings, so thought it might be a good topic – over-enunciation of nonsense syllables. Now, your high school choir teacher might be proud that you’ve kept up your good diction, but I say doh jin jin walla boww to that.
Actually, I’d probably say something closer to dhhw zxnm zxnm fvuhhhllu BBuuuuughhhrr to that. In various forums I’ve seen questions such as “what syllable is good for guitar/piano/bagpipe/etc?” The answer is “no syllable”. These are sounds, not really collections of consonants and vowels.
Of course, we need to be able to write down our basic ideas and tonal shapes for others to read, as well as the other way around – you just got that shiny new chart from an arranger and you want to get started rehearsing it right away - and the more clear the info on that paper is, the faster you can learn the intent of the arrangement. But the “intent” is just a guide for you to take it the rest of the way and make it your own!
We have our own little language, but no one should be fluent in it. “Zhen” roughly means a distorted sustained guitar, “din” might be some sort of piano, but could also be a Chinese zither. Written on a piece of sheet music, these ”words” help us find the character and tone of the arranger’s intent, but these are just training wheels. Once you feel steady, take them off and make the sounds your own! Just avoid syllables that sound like words - back in the 90s, it seemed there were whole songs that went "jen jen j jen jen" behind a singer. My wife, Jen, would keep losing track of the lead singer because it sounded like a bunch of people were calling her name...
[written April 09]