Tag Archives: Poetry

Communicating the Song’s Meaning

Here are some questions to ask when preparing a song. They will help you act or just put the right kind of energy and emotion behind your singing. You should be able to answer the first three for any song you sing, and the other two are good to think about, too. If the song does not come from a show or an opera, you get to use your imagination and
make up your answers.

Who am I? This will involve time period, place, station
(in life), age and outlook.

Who am I singing to? This may not be the most obvious
person. Go with whoever generates the strongest emotional response from you. You may be addressing yourself, but perhaps a side of yourself that does not normally show.

What do I want from him/her? A tender reply? Understanding? Someone to listen while you pour out your heart?

What will I do to get it? What are you planning, and how much further would you be willing to go?

What is in the way of getting it? His stubbornness?
Tradition? Your timidity?

It may seem like these do not fit your song, and possibly there is no answer for some of them. But don’t give up too quickly. Even if you do not know who is singing, think up a character (good for classical songs) or sing it as yourself (works in pop songs, but your stage persona does not have to be the same as the real you). The more detail you have in
your answers, the better your performance will be.

Here is an example. Let’s assume there is no background information on the character or story, so the lyrics are all you have to go on.

Why asks my fair one if I love?
Those eyes so piercing bright
Can ev’ry doubt of that remove
And need no other light.
Those eyes fullwell do know my heart
And all its workings see
E’r since they played the conq’rors part
And I no more was free.

Who am I? A 20-year-old man in England, about 1860. I was confident and cynical until I saw Sylvia. Now I have surrendered all my pride and humbled myself before her.

Who am I singing to? The beautiful red-haired Sylvia, who calls me a fool and enjoys testing me to see if I will stay faithful, even when she is cruel.

What do I want? I want Sylvia to acknowledge that I love her as no one else. Then she would smile and speak to me and see me as worthy of her. How can she think I will be untrue? I can’t stand the thought that I might lose her.

What will I do to get it? I will profess my love as strongly as I know how, but I would be willing to die for her, or do anything she asks, to prove my fidelity.

What gets in the way? Her cold and proud demeanor. She wants to see
me grovel, and I’ll grovel all she wants, just to win her.

Your answers might differ quite a bit from mine. The important thing is to think them through and decide on one solution for your performance. Change it later if you want.