lyrics hyphenation

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lyrics hyphenation

Post by ebykm »

What is the standard rule for Lyric hyphenation ?. especially for UK English. Should phonetics or dictionary hyphenation be the basis while hyphenating lyrics, especially hymns with some archaic words ?.

Need help in hyphenating the following.

two syllables

spread { sp-read / spr-ead }
while { whi-le / whil-e / ??? }
bride { brid-e / bri-de / ??? }

three syllables
unknown { un-know-n / un-kno-wn / ??? }

phrasing notes (eg. 8 quavers)

strife { stri-fe }
Question - whether the "fe" should on the last beat or on the last note.

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Re: lyrics hyphenation

Post by cjshawcj »

The standard rule for lyrics hyphenation is either fully to understand the transliteration of the language in question, or to employ an underlay operative who does.

You mention phonetics, but do not seem aware that all the words with which you are having difficulties are monophthongs, or at best diphthongs.

George Bernard Shaw had trouble with English phonetics: He observed that FISH should be transliterated GHOTI; viz. F as in rouGH, I as in wOmen, SH as in naTIon. (He was, of course, an idiot, leaving his not inconsiderable post-mortem royalties to the promotion of Esperanto, by which one can fail to make oneself understood in every country in the world). Such eccentricities of Anglophone transliteration usually lead to a reduction in syllables, not an increase. Thus Featherstonehaugh is hyphenated Fan-shaw and Cholmondeley of Wymondham as Chum-ley-of Win-dam.
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Re: lyrics hyphenation

Post by CHGiffen »

Dictionary hyphenation should be the standard; in particular, one syllable words (monophthongs) should not be hyphenated.

There are rare exceptions to this rule which are dictated by composer's intent, such as closing to an "m" or "n" or "ng" before the end of a tied note or melisma (ordinarily, one sings the vowel up to the very end of the note/melisma). But even then, usually an alternate approach should be taken, leaving the original syllable intact. Thus, for example, the last word sung in my own This Advent Moon is "Him" on a tied note over several measures; although I typed "Him." under the first note, I indicated that the closing to the "m" sound with "" in the final measure. Alternatively, a composer/arranger/editor could indicate such intentions in performance note(s) attached to the score, for instance, via an asterisk "*" attached to the syllable and a footnote explaining what should be done with that syllable.
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Re: lyrics hyphenation

Post by carlos »

The comment by "AmbitEnerg" was deleted as he was found to be a spammer.
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Re: lyrics hyphenation

Post by Richard Mix »

I'm a bit late coming on this, but yes, as a rule single syllables must never be hyphenated. I can't help suspecting if there were an example to look at, it might turn out that the question has to do with melismas and how to use a word extension line. I once was handed a score that used hyphens for that job and repeated the l-a-s-t-t-t-t-t letter as many times as needed.
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Re: lyrics hyphenation

Post by pateceramics »

Regarding the hyphenation of single syllables, the original question was for words in archaic English in old hymns, where what is spelled as one syllable to a modern reader would have been pronounced as two in the original setting of the hymn. I'm not sure if there is a "correct" answer to that question. It may have to be a judgement call by the arranger how best to convey proper pronunciation to a modern musician.

For anyone who doesn't have it already, here's an "official" style guide for all things mundanely notational, including hyphenation. (: ... tation.pdf

Officially, they recommend always following dictionary hyphenation rules.

Unofficially, I take that with a grain of salt. Think of all of those reminders from the director to put the consonant ending one syllable together with the beginning of the next syllable, to be sure that the vowel of the first syllable doesn't get clipped… Where a word is broken between two systems, or over a page turn, I usually follow the dictionary, as that usually gives the singer the best guess at pronunciation as they turn the page. For example: "pleas-ing" is technically correct, but will probably get you a few "pleassssss-ing's" from the back row, so I might be tempted to write that as "plea-sing." But across a page turn, depending on the rest of the text, there is a danger that someone will think they are about to sing "pleasurable" or some such, and pronounce that first syllable accordingly. "pleh-WHOOPS!-sing."

I say, follow the rules, unless they are going to cause problems. In which case don't follow the rules. Unless not following the rules will cause a bigger problem.

Don't you love arguing technicalities? (:
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