The New Vocality

Contemporary Music Presentations & Workshops for Composers & Singers

Having worked in the contemporary music world for many years, I notice an increasing gulf between what composers are wanting to hear and how singers are being taught to sing. I see so many pieces of music written for voices that show little understanding of vocal production, and an equal number of singers who are unable to tackle the demands made of them by contemporary composers.

The result is that composers are turning out pieces that will rarely, if ever, be performed, and singers are not developing the vocal flexibility they will need to survive in the competitive world of professional singing.

I feel there is a need to approach the teaching of singing from a different perspective, which I refer to as “The New Vocality”, and we have now developed a series of workshops for universities and colleges with this in mind.

The idea is to encourage composers and singers to work together in a two-way learning process. Workshops might begin with a starter presentation to promote discussion and increase composers’ repertoire of vocal compositional techniques, as well as giving them a better understanding of their own music from a singer’s perspective.  This could lead to a workshop to try out and discuss students’ works-in-progress, and possibly lead to a public performance of the completed compositions.


Composing workshops

  • Considerations and practicalities when writing for voices
  • What do composers want to hear?
  • What are singers prepared/able to sing?
  • Who are you writing for?
  • Stylistic considerations and extended vocal techniques
  • Amplification
  • Demonstrations and examples

Performing workshops

  • Different types of vocal production
  • Practicalities of singing “contemporary” music
  • What composers want
  • Vocal limitations – real or perceived?
  • Are there “right” and “wrong” ways to sing?
  • Stylistic considerations
  • Microphone singing


Members of Synergy Vocals are available to workshop student compositions, or we can provide coaching for student vocal ensembles working on their contemporaries’ latest projects.