Diction, expressivity and conductor’s choices in choral works sung in German

Hauck, Caiti (2019). Diction, expressivity and conductor’s choices in choral works sung in German. Music performance research, 9, pp. 80-100. Royal Northern College of Music

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Musical performance requires several choices by the performer. In choral performance, choices include aspects related to text diction, such as the duration and dynamics of vowels and consonants. These choices may be targeted, for example, at text comprehensibility, although they may also contribute to achieving an expressive performance. This article examines conductors’ performance choices regarding text diction in choral works sung in German. It aims to identify possible uses of diction — mainly by means of manipulations in the duration of consonants — as an expressive device and to discuss the effects of such use on performance expressivity. Methods consisted, firstly, of analyses of writings on choral conducting, which aimed to identify suggestions concerning the expressive use of diction. Secondly, six choral conductors were interviewed. Thirdly, choral works by Johann Sebastian Bach and Franz Schubert were used as case studies, which consisted of score analyses and, principally, of recording analyses done with the software Sonic Visualiser. Finally, the data collected were compared and discussed. Results show that some choral conductors point to the expressive potential of text diction, especially of consonants. Results also show that, in some recordings, important words are highlighted by means of manipulating the duration and dynamics of consonants. Such manipulations can be understood as expressive gestures that not only reinforce the meaning of a piece, but also create different meanings. When these manipulations are frequent, results suggest that diction can play a central role in the expressivity of choral performance.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Musicology

UniBE Contributor:

Hauck, Caiti


700 Arts > 780 Music




Royal Northern College of Music


[UNSPECIFIED] Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior


[UNSPECIFIED] Diction, expressivity and conductor’s choices in choral works sung in German




Caiti Hauck Da Silva

Date Deposited:

15 Jul 2019 18:05

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:28

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