“What a great performance!” When the audience is blown away by the singer’s interpretation, it is often that listeners are able to emphathize with the emotions that the singer felt during the performance. Sometimes the experience even works in both ways. The experience has then been mutual and shared among the performer and the audience, often resulting in goose bumps. What kind of ways can singers utilize in order to improve their interpretation skills? In this article we have listed things that help you move to the next level in interpreting your songs.
1. Analyze The Lyrics
What does the text mean to you? What do different phrases mean, what is the essential thought behind the words? Interpretation is often most authentic when the singer has personal experiences the emotions of which they can recall and redeliver through the song to the audience when singing.
Through investigating the lyrics one can find different perspectives through which to view the situations and emotions presented in a song. A song that would generally be considered sad can gain a fresh perspective if different emotions, such as frustration, irritation, hate or disappointment are brought into the interpretation instead. On the other hand, the singer may also experience relief for whatever reason which may not be clearly expressed in the text.
2. Define Your Role
Are you singing the song as yourself? Are you a narrator of the story who portrays another person’s story? Or perhaps you are playing a character that expresses their emotions in a song, such like a theatre actor? This is often the case when singing musical songs or opera arias. However, a singer-songwriter, for instance may describe the insights and experiences they have encountered during their personal life in a song.
3. Decide Who You Are Singing To
If the lyrics go “If you leave me now”, it is often interpreted to mean that a couple’s relationship has come to an end. What about if the phrase is meant to the singer’s grandmother who is about to pass away? The song gets a totally different meaning. In turn, the singing character may also sing alone, wondering their own thoughts.
4. Decide On The Leading Emotion
Does a particular strong emotion flow through the whole song, or does it change during the song? What kinds of feelings does the singer experience during the song? Why? For example, some word could make the singer recall a beautiful summer memory, whereas the next emotion may take the singer to a totally different emotional state.
5. Decide On How Intensively Will The Emotional State Be Expressed
If number 10 would mean “extremely happy” and number 1 “a little happy”, how intensively would that emotion be expressed during the song? Does the intensity of the emotion grow during the song, or will it remain about the same throughout singing?
6. How Openly Is The State Of Emotion Expressed?
Besides intensity the emotional state can be regulated by how open or how withdrawn it is. Instead of fully expressed a singer can hold back the emotion inside making the audience to sense the smoldering emotion that it is not wholly released. On the other hand, a fully expressed emotion can be an equally impressive experience.
7. Decide On What Kinds Of Ways You Want To Use Your Voice
What is the overall atmosphere of the interpretation like? A breathy way to use your voice may for example suit to express a very sensitive emotion. An overall joyful emotion may trigger another kind of sound. Listen to signals of your instrument during different emotions – they may help you!
8. Color Your Expression With Different Effects
Different vocal effects and spices are useful ways to highlight an emotion or the present thought. These are heard in both classical and contemporary commercial music styles. Depending on the music style singers use different melismas or ornamentations and different kinds of effects, such as distortion.
9. Trust Your Intuition
While the ways mentioned before are useful tools to practice interpretation is singing, it is good to remember that intuition also plays an important part in performing. An interpretation that is practiced mechanically and delivered to the audience may not compare to a situation where a singer feels their emotions genuinely in the present and shares them with the audience. We suggest that do not let go of your sensitivity in the situation nor ignore the signs from your body. Be available to adapt in the situation: sometimes the interpretation may choose another form that is new and surprising.