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Sprechgesang, Sprechstimme


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(Ger.).

Spoken song, speech‐song. Type of vocal perf. between speech and song. First used by Humperdinck in first version of his opera Königskinder (1897), where singers were told to approximate the pitches but were doubled by instr. playing exact pitches. Schoenberg used the idea in his Gurrelieder (1900–11), in Die glückliche Hand (1910–13), and especially in Pierrot Lunaire (1912) and in his opera Moses und Aron (1930–2). Berg used the device in Wozzeck, and many others have used it since. Schoenberg was liberal in his attitude to manner of perf., as his recording of Pierrot Lunaire shows. In general usage, Sprechgesang is the term for the vocal technique, Sprechstimme for the v.‐part employing it. A well‐known example of Sprechgesang is that of Rex Harrison (and his successors) as Prof. Higgins in My Fair Lady.


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