In the recent webinar Robert Lunte hosted with Draven Grey, he touched upon a very important topic that deserves a bit of elaboration. Understanding the importance of lyrics in singing is a fundamental thing that often times separates great singers from good singers. Though an amateur/good singer will sporadically remember to use the poetic message of a song’s lyrics to convey feeling to an audience, many singers simply forget or disregard the other areas of singing in which lyrics can have a significant positive impact.
One of the many services lyrics provide to singers is that of being a roadmap for the type of onsets, singing vowels, and consonants that would facilitate the performance of a specific song. In short, the lyrics of a song lay out the speech phonetics necessary to perform said song. These can be used to translate the physiological changes we as singers need to make if we’re singing a phrase that’s lower or higher than our speech voice. Remember, singing and speech are not the same thing. We use and shift different vowels while deliberately using certain onsets to sing phrases so that their meaning is still comprehensible in different sections of our vocal range.
This use for lyrics is important because, as we’ve emphasized many times, singing a good onset will make the section following the onset ten times easier to sing than if we were to start with a shaky, weak onset. Musical phrases inherit the properties of the onset the singer uses at the start of the section. Some sections need a very strong onset (Attack and release onset for example) to hold onto power for the entire phrase. Other times, a more relaxed onset is appropriate if the vocal mass needs to be lightened up throughout the musical phrase. By paying closer attention to lyrics, singers can learn to recognize these common changes they need to make while singing and become a better singer overall.
Although these are only but a few practical uses that get often overlooked about lyrics, paying close attention to lyrics and using them constantly throughout your singing should take your vocal and performing ability to the next level.