The application of vocal registration to traditional singing and Sprechstimme in "Flower and Hawk"

Date of Completion

January 2008


Music|Education, Music




Librettist and composer Carlisle Floyd is widely recognized for his contemporary operas rooted in American themes. Garnering many prestigious awards and honorary titles, Floyd not only composes, but is continually asked to speak or write about the state of American Opera. The great popularity and success of his works at a national and international level identifies Floyd as a serious American composer and validates American opera as a serious art form. ^ In contrast to the majority of Floyd's musical dramas, Flower and Hawk does not include an American theme or character; rather, it is based on a European historical figure, Eleanor of Aquitaine. A monodrama for soprano and orchestra, Flower and Hawk is Floyd's only stage work for a single voice. In a series of continuously flowing scenes, one character leads the opera plot through expressive text, stylized vocal production, and physical drama. ^ This document examines the vocal writing in Flower and Hawk, paying special attention to the registration of traditional singing and Sprechstimme production. Background information concerning the monodrama is offered in Chapter I. Chapter II gives a brief summary of the composer, his music, and his thoughts about the state of American Opera. Chapter III discusses the Three-Registers Theory as a tool of analysis. Chapter IV explains Sprechstimme production and charts the employment of Sprechstimme and recitation (rhythmic or free) within the opera. In Chapter V, the design of these vocal productions is accounted for in coordination with other elements such as tempo, text, and stage directions. The Conclusion, Chapter VI, exposes basic trends in the employments of High Register, Chest Register, Sprechstimme, and Recitation. Temporal Cues or Content Cues through orchestral motives and stage props are also discussed. Finally, Chapter VII offers practical advice on preparing to perform the role of Eleanor, with specific step-by-step advice for Sprechstimme production. ^