Elements of Choral Speaking

What is choral speaking?
To put it simply, choral speaking is when a group of people recite (or speak) a passage of text that they have memorized. The text (a poem, story, or other source) is interpreted by the group using a variety of techniques to create an interesting presentation with a lot of creativity. The group can speak together at the same time, or there can be lines performed by solo members, or even a combination of both. The first thing to decide is what text material that you as a group will interpret. Take time to read the piece over to discover its meaning, so that when you present your piece you will know what you are trying to say to the audience through your interpretation. Practice speaking the piece, exploring one element of choral speaking at a time so that you will discover a good deal about the poem, as well as the group that you are working with. What are the elements of choral speaking? In random order of importance, they are: Number of voices: Is everyone speaking? Some? A few? Or one person? The text can be divided into sections which can then be assigned to any number of people. Where you divide the text and how many people speak each part is up to the group. Try to justify your choices by the interpretation, or message, that your group is trying to say. Pitch: How high or how low are you speaking each part and why? Tempo: Which parts do you speak fast? Which parts are spoken slowly? Why? Dynamics: How loud or soft should you speak each section? How does that affect the emphasis of specific words or phrases? How does that affect the mood, emotion and meaning for the listener? Tone: What vocal qualities are used to accent the piece? “Light voices” vs. “dark, scruffy voices”, how can these be used to help your message? Movement: What gestures, large physical actions or dance steps will you use to help the interpretation? Rhythm: rhythm is patterns of sound. Sounds can be short, or long and drawn out, and also combinations of the two. A variety creates a more interesting presentation and should always be faithful to the message of the piece. Rhythm can also involve repetition of a single line as background, or chanting. Repetition: you can choose to repeat a certain word, phrase or section that you feel is important. As well, you can use dynamics (ie. Volume) and whisper the line underneath. In addition, you should consider these physical elements from previous units for staging as well: Entrances Exits Sight-lines- can everyone be seen clearly Blocking- How and where people move when onstage Stage pictures- How do people stand in relation to one another when onstage Levels- use a variety to tell your story

Instructor: Hamilton