Kenneth Frazelle’s Appalachian Songbooks (1989) and Doug Borwick’s Southern Comfort (1989) An Investigation into Singing Contemporary American Art Song Requiring Authentic Southern Regional Dialects
This dissertation investigates vocal performance of art songs requiring authentic and appropriate regional dialects of the American South. Through close analysis of performance practice in American opera, musical theatre, and art song, this document follows the existence of regional southern dialects on the stage from the early 1800s to today’s practice. Evidence of specified regional southern accents is discussed regarding literary depictions in librettos, lyrics, and dialogue. Other topics include the ways regional nuances and colloquialisms differentiate southern regional accents, the existence of a generic “southern” accent to stand for any representation of rural whites, and, briefly, the nonspecific ways African American southern dialects are usually rendered. Art song selections from Kenneth Frazelle’s Appalachian Songbooks (1989) and Doug Borwick’s Southern Comfort (1989), which I studied, recorded, and transcribed into singer’s IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), are the central texts of this discussion. The recording can be accessed online at https://soundcloud.com
This research will benefit the performers of American art song that specifically requires “white” dialects, the native and non-native speakers of some Southern-American dialects, and scholars who seek to promote authentic performance practice of southern oral tradition in concert music.