Quick guide to IPA

Designed for my studio classes at UC Davis at a time when there was no diction class offered, this quick guide to IPA is a short and occasionally irreverent introduction to the sounds and symbols of the International Phoenetic Alphabet.

Download (3 page PDF):Quick Guide to IPA

I would feel remiss if I didn’t offer the following caveat: The IPA offered on these pages is not sufficient to properly pronounce any of the languages in question. In fact, even in the context of a diction course, it is still insufficient. At best it is a handy reference to remember the broad strokes of the language, and a way of correcting serious flaws. I can think of several famous singers who have been mocked for their English diction, despite singing with nearly flawless IPA.

To truly sing well in a foreign language, one must become familiar with the cadence of its speech and the subtleties of pronunciation that reach beyond the bounds of what IPA describes. Learn the language. Practice speaking it with native speakers. And, of course, listen to great singers of all voice types singing in their native languages and imitate.