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On the Art of Singing$
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Richard Miller

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780195098259

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780195098259.001.0001

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Rhythm versus Beat

Rhythm versus Beat

(p.124) 39 Rhythm versus Beat
On the Art of Singing

Richard Miller

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that beat is detrimental to rhythm in music. A common error among unskilled singers is to retain speech-inflection rhythms even when a melodic contour stretches out the phrase duration to several times that of speech. Such speech-retention practice belies the concept of the bel canto style, in which moving the voice and sustaining it are paramount. Today's young singer is surrounded by the current obsession with the “beat” in music, and may mistake it for rhythm, the musical parameter that brings life to any musical score. It is often the beat, not the musical line, that occupies the singer's attention. Rhythm, dictated by phrase contour, melodic excursion, and harmonic movement, is essential to artistic singing.

Keywords:   beat, rhythm, music, bel canto, voice, singer, phrase contour, melodic excursion, harmonic movement, singing

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