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German Pronunciation Guide

by Norbert Meyn

Johannes Brahms
Ein Deutsches Requiem

www.choraline.com
GERMAN PRONUNCIATION GUIDE | NORBERT MEYN
Johannes Brahms | Ein Deutsches Requiem

Introduction
This ChoraLine pronunciation guide comes in three parts.
1 THE CHORALINE GUIDE TO SINGING IN GERMAN (Page 2)
with clear examples and symbols for vowel sounds, important consonants
Vocal Scores ChoraLine Singing Sets and inflection.
Rehearsal 2 A LIST OF SOUNDS AND SYMBOLS (Page 7)
CDs & MP3s
for reference and practice: using English word comparisons.
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The introduction, the list of sounds and symbols and the textbook work in
Singers Choral Music Choir Folders parallel with the ChoraLine Pronunciation CD, and we recommend using
them together for combined aural and visual learning. You can find the CD
Music Bags Performance
trackmarks throughout the booklet.
CDs
Even if you do not speak any German, this guide will enable you to
pronounce the text correctly and with confidence. With the word for word
translation you can communicate the specific meaning of each word
through your singing. It will also help you to enunciate the important words
and syllables in each phrase, so that the audience can understand it clearly
and enjoy the many expressive colours of the language.
Norbert Meyn
If you have purchased the ChoraLine Pronunciation CD,
Important: this ChoraLine guide book is strictly Copyright Material and may not in please play it now as you read on.
any circumstances be copied for any purpose, disseminated electronically or be used
for public broadcast or performance without permission from the publishers.
ChoraLine 2011
PN001

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GERMAN PRONUNCIATION GUIDE | NORBERT MEYN
Johannes Brahms | Ein Deutsches Requiem

CD TRACK 1

1
The ChoraLine Guide to Singing THE WRITTEN VOWELS e AND i

in German The open and closed versions of these vowels are formed mainly by the
tongue, which gradually assumes a higher position in the mouth.
In singing we use the highest and purest form of the German IPA SYMBOL
Language, Hochsprache or Bhnensprache (stage-language). A colon after a vowel means it is pronounced long.
CD TRACK 2
open e
VOWELS closed e e:
open i I
German has a greater variety of vowel sounds than many other languages.
closed i i:
All German vowel sounds have both open and closed variations.
THE WRITTEN VOWELS o AND u
OPEN VOWELS
Here the open and closed versions are formed mainly by the mouth and
Open vowels are usually short (when spoken), and mostly followed by two lips, which gradually close.
or more consonants.
IPA SYMBOL
U
open o
Gott Mutter
closed o o:
God mother
open u U
CLOSED VOWELS closed u u:

Closed vowels are usually long (when spoken). UMLAUTS , AND


o: u: Open or closed, they are formed with the same mouth shape as their
gro gut counterparts without the two dots, by raising the tongue inside the mouth.
great good IPA SYMBOL

In the ChoraLine pronunciation guide, open (or short) vowels are marked (this is the same sound as the open e)
with capital letters and closed (or long) vowels are marked with lower case open
letters. closed :
For clarity it is very important that when singing, open and closed vowels open Y
are clearly differentiated. The only exception is the letter a, which can be closed y:
spoken short or long, but is always sung as a bright Italianate a.

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GERMAN PRONUNCIATION GUIDE | NORBERT MEYN
Johannes Brahms | Ein Deutsches Requiem

CD TRACK 4 CD TRACK 6
THE SCHWA SOUND IMPORTANT CONSONANTS AND GROUPS OF CONSONANTS
This is a very neutral sound, which is used when the letter e occurs in an h This is always silent after a vowel, and the preceding vowel
unstressed position. An example would be the first syllable in the word is always long and closed, as in the word gehen (to go).
Geduld (patience) or the last syllable in the word Leben (life). In singing this ch 1 () as in the word ich (I). This sound can be difficult. It is
sound is usually bright and never strongly projected. produced by touching the edges of your tongue against the
IPA SYMBOL
upper teeth at the sides of your mouth, and the tip of your
tongue touching the lower teeth at the front of your mouth.
e (schwa) as in Leben (life) The sound is then made quite high up in the mouth by
passing air over the tongue. It is similar to the first part of
THE SCHWA SOUND II the English word huge, but stronger and more projected.
This sometimes replaces the letter r, for example in the German word mehr ch 2 (x) ch can also be pronounced in the throat as in the word
(more). This sound can also replace the ending -er, exactly as in the English Nacht (night). It is made by air friction quite low in the
word better, or in the last syllable of the German word Butter (butter). throat and is the same sound as that in the Scottish word
loch.
IPA SYMBOL
chs (ks) If ch is followed by an s, then it is pronounced as a k
-er, r (schwa II) as in Butter (butter) as in the word wachsen (to grow).
-ig () When words end in -ig, this is pronounced ich as in the
DIPHTHONGS word for king Knig.
Diphthongs are made up of two vowels. In singing the second vowel is only -iglich If the -ig is followed by -lich the g becomes a k as in the
sounded at the very last moment. word kniglich (royally).
ng () This is always pronounced with a soft g as in the English
CD TRACK 5
word sing, and not with a hard g as in finger.
IPA SYMBOL nk is pronounced as in English thank, or in German, Dank.
ai as in Mai (May) ae qu is pronounced kv as in the word for Quelle (source), not
au as in Traum (dream) ao kw as in the Italian word quella.
eu as in heute (today) s If the letter s is followed by a vowel, then it is voiced like
an English z as in the word Sonne (sun).
The second vowel is not as closed as the spelling suggests, and closes
st (t) is mostly pronounced sht as in the word Stille (silence).
only partly.
sp (p) becomes shp as in Spiel (a game).
sch () is pronounced sh as in schn (beautiful).
z is pronounced ts as in Zimmer (a room).
v is generally pronounced f as in Vogel (bird).
w is pronounced as the English v, as in the word Welle
(a wave) or Wasser (water).

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GERMAN PRONUNCIATION GUIDE | NORBERT MEYN
Johannes Brahms | Ein Deutsches Requiem

CD TRACK 7 CD TRACK 9

2
Voiced consonants like b, d and g become de-voiced if at the end of a word
or before another consonant.
List of Sounds and Symbols
b becomes p in gab (gave), for Reference and Practice
d becomes t in und (and),
VOWELS
g becomes k in Schlag (strike).
SPELLING IPA SYMBOL EX AMPLE ENGL. COMPARISON
r When singing, the letter r is rolled with the tongue, and
quite strongly in expressive words like Rache (revenge). a a, a: Vater (father) -
But it may also be just flicked as in a word like kurz (short). , open e Bett (bed) bed, better
When the letter r occurs at the end of a word, it is often Trne (teardrop)
replaced by the neutral schwa sound as in the word der closed e e: Leben (life) eh?
(the), as described above schwa sound II. open i I Bitte (please) it
CD TRACK 8 closed i i: Liebe (love) see
THE GLOTTAL STOP open o Gott (God) cough
When singing in German the glottal stop is important, as it helps to closed o o: Rose (rose) -
achieve clarity. This means that words beginning with a vowel have to be open u U Mutter (mother) book
separated from the previous word with a re-articulation. closed u u: Ruhe (rest) two
Example: Am Abend (in the evening). open Gttin (Goddess) -
closed : schn (beautiful) -
In a glottal stop the vocal folds are closed for a moment and then opened
open Y Glck (happiness) -
again with a gentle explosion. In singing this should be quite smooth and
should hardly interrupt the line. closed y: s (sweet) -
Remember: a colon after a symbol means the vowel is pronounced long.
INFLECTION CD TRACK 10
Schwa sounds I and II:
All German words have one stressed syllable, and this is often the first
syllable. When singing in German, inflection is the key to a beautiful line. e Geduld (patience) the
Unstressed syllables are projected less than in other languages, and this Leben (life)
results in a lilting line that moves from one stress to the next. r, -er mehr (more) better
Mutter (mother)
In the text of the ChoraLine pronunciation guide, we have underlined CD TRACK 11
stressed syllables and we have also underlined the important words in a DIPHTHONGS
phrase. This is because German is a very onomatopoeic language, and the
stressed syllables or words often carry the expression. This is especially ai, ei ae Mai (May) try
true in singing. au ao Traum (dream) house
eu, u heute (today) boy
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GERMAN PRONUNCIATION GUIDE | NORBERT MEYN
Johannes Brahms | Ein Deutsches Requiem

CD TRACK 12 r rolled strongly Ruber (robber)


IMPORTANT CONSONANTS flicked with tongue kurz (short)
SPELLING IPA SYMBOL EX AMPLE ENGL. COMPARISON replaced with schwa der (the)
ch ich (I) huge
CD TRACK 16
ch x Nacht (night) (Scottish) loch
GLOTTAL STOP (GENTLE RE-ARTICULATION):
chs ks wachsen (to axe
grow) Between words: am / Abend (in the evening)
-ig g becomes Knig (king) - Within a word: un/ausgeglichen (unbalanced)
-iglich g becomes k kniglich (kingly) -
h gehen (to go) - INFLECTION (STRESSING UNDERLINED SYLLABLES):
j j ja (yes) - und kommen mit Freuden (and come with joy)
l (always forward) Himmel (heaven) love (not: all)

CD TRACK 13 Note about Word for Word Translations


VOICED CONSONANTS AT END OF WORDS
d becomes t und (and) - The syntax (word order) of English sentences differs considerably from
German. For this reason most singing translations or other available
b becomes p gab (gave) -
translations of poetic texts are not enough to identify the meaning of
g becomes k Schlag (strike/ hit) - individual words in a text.
FURTHER CONSONANTS
Word-for-word translations work around this problem, and they save you
ng Klang (sound) doing, (not: finger) having to look up many individual words in the dictionary. Most of the
nk k Dank (thanks) thank time the meaning of a phrase is still obvious although the word order is
qu kv not kw Quelle (source) - unusual. If you cannot make sense of a line it is worth referring to a normal
translation as available on the Internet or in a CD booklet. You should be
CD TR ACK 14
s z Sonne (sun) zip able to piece together a coherent picture that way.
ansehen (to look Knowing the exact meaning of individual words, which are often drawn out
at) and repeated in music, is important for singing with the right expression and
st t Stille (silence) fish-tank with confidence.
sp p Spiel (game) fish-pond
sch schn (beautiful) ship
CD TRACK 15
z ts Zimmer (room) nets
v f Vogel (bird) fun
w v Wasser (water) vase

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GERMAN PRONUNCIATION GUIDE | NORBERT MEYN
Johannes Brahms | Ein Deutsches Requiem

3
The Complete Text of the MOVEMENT II CD TRACK 18
ae I v a:
Choral Work Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras
For all flesh, it is like grass
JOHANNES BRAHMS EIN DEUTSCHES REQUIEM
U t a e
MOVEMENT I CD TRACK 17
und alle Herrlichkeit des Menschen
ze: zI t i: a: aet t a:
and all glory of man
Selig sind, die da Leid tragen,
vi: z s u:
Blessed are, who (ever) suffering bear
wie des Grases Blumen.
z i: z : v e:
like the grass(es) flowers
denn sie sollen getrstet werden.
a: I f
for they shall comforted be
Das Gras ist verdorret
i: I z
the grass is withered
Die mit Trnen sen,
U t i: u: p
They (who) with tears sow,
und die Blume abgefallen.
ve: I
and the flower fallen off.
werden mit Freuden ernten.
Zo: zaet u: U i: y:
shall with joy reap.
So seid nun geduldig, liebe Brder,
Zi: e: I U t V ae
So be now patient, dear brothers,
Sie gehen hin und weinen
I ao i: tsu:
They go forth and weep
bis auf die Zukunft des Herrn.
U t a: e: Za:
unto (on) the future of (the) Lord.
und tragen edlen Samen, e
Zi: a k v
and bear precious seed,
Siehe, ein Ackermann wartet
U t I
Behold, a husbandman waits
und kommen mit Freuden
ao i: I Ux e: e:
and come with joy
auf die kstliche Frucht der Erde
U t I i: a:
for the decicious fruit (of) the earth
und bringen ihre Garben.
U t I U y:
and bring their sheaves.
und ist geduldig darber,
and is patient about it,

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GERMAN PRONUNCIATION GUIDE | NORBERT MEYN
Johannes Brahms | Ein Deutsches Requiem

MOVEMENT II CD TRACK 18 MOVEMENT III CD TRACK 19


I e: a: e: e: e: x I
bis er empfahe den Morgenregen Herr, lehre doch mich,
until he receives the morning rain Lord, teach but me,
U t t e: s a e I i: a: Us
und Abendregen. da ein Ende mit mir haben mu,
and evening rain. that an end with me have (it) must.
zo: zaet U U t ae e: ae tsi:
So seid geduldig. und mein Leben ein Ziel hat,
So be patient. and (that) my life an aim has,
v ae I e:v I ae U t I f Us
Aber des Herrn Wort bleibet in Ewigkeit. und ich davon mu.
But the Lords word remains in eternity. and I away must (go).
i: :z ve: vi: zi: ae a: zI t ae t ae fo: i:
Die Erlseten des Herrn werden wieder kommen Siehe, meine Tage sind einer Handbreit vor dir,
The redeemed (of) the Lord shall again come Behold, my days are a hand-breadth before you,
U t tsi: I o
a xts U t e
a e: I vi: I fo: i:
und gen Zion kommen mit Jauchzen. und mein Leben ist wie nichts vor dir.
and to Zion come with rejoicing. and my life is like nothing before you.
e:vI x vi: a: I zI t
Freude, ewige Freude Ach, wie gar nichts sind alle Menschen,
Joy, eternal joy Oh, like nothing are all people,
v I t y: i: ao zae i: x zo: zI e:
wird ber ihrem Haupte sein; die doch so sicher leben.
shall over their head(s) be. who but so safely live.
U t V ve: zi: ae zi: e: e: vi: ae e:
Freude und Wonne werden sie ergreifen, Sie gehen daher wie ein Schemen,
Joy and bliss shall them possess. They walk along like a shadow.
U t
ts U t z ts vI t v k Y U t x i: fi: f e:p I U u:
und Schmerz und Seufzen wird weg mssen. und machen ihnen viel vergebliche Unruhe;
and pain and sighing will (go) away have to. and make each other much vain disquiet;

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GERMAN PRONUNCIATION GUIDE | NORBERT MEYN
Johannes Brahms | Ein Deutsches Requiem

MOVEMENT III CD TRACK 19 MOVEMENT IV CD TRACK 20


zi: z U t vI I ve: i: vI t i: i:p I zI t ae vo: U ts e: a/t
sie sammeln und wissen nicht wer es kriegen wird. Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen, Herr Zebaoth!
they gather and know not who it receive will. How lovely are your dwellings, Lord (of) Sabaoth!
u: v z I I : a e ze: f U t ze: zI
Nun Herr, wess soll ich mich trsten? Meine Seele verlanget und sehnet sich
Now Lord, (with) what shall I myself console? My soul desires and longs (itself)
I ao I x e: fo: :
Ich hoffe auf dich. nach den Vorhfen des Herrn;
I hope in thee. for the courts of the Lord;
e: ze: zI t I t e e
a a p U t ze: zI
Der Gerechten Seelen sind in Gottes Hand mein Leib und Seele freuen sich
The just souls are in Gods hand my body and soul delight (themselves)
U t ae kv y: zi: I e: e: I
und keine Qual rhret sie an. in dem lebendigen Gott.
and no torment touches them. In the living God.
o e: i: I ae aoz vo:
Wohl denen, die in deinem Hause wohnen,
Blessing (to) them, who in your house dwell,
i: o: I I
Die loben dich immerdar.
they praise you forever.

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GERMAN PRONUNCIATION GUIDE | NORBERT MEYN
Johannes Brahms | Ein Deutsches Requiem

MOVEMENT V CD TRACK 21 MOVEMENT VI CD TRACK 22


i: p u: ao I ae vi: a: i: ae ae t
Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit; Denn wir haben hie keine bleibende Statt,
You have now sadness; For we have here no lasting
I vI vi: ze: z i: tsu: Y zu:x vi:
aber ich will euch wiedersehen sondern die zuknftige suchen wir.
but I shall you again see. but the future (one) seek we.
U t ts z zI zi: I za: ae ae I
und euer Herz soll sich freuen Siehe, ich sage euch ein Geheimnis:
and your heart shall (itself) rejoice Behold, I tell you a secret:
U t z i: t f e: Vi: ve: I a:
und eure Freude soll niemand von euch nehmen. Wir werden nicht alle entschlafen,
and your joy shall nobody from you take. We will not all die,
ze: I Vi: ve: a: f v ve:
Sehet mich an: wir werden aber alle verwandelt werden;
Look at me (at). we will but all changed be;
I a: ae ae tsae U t I ts I I ae ao I
Ich habe eine kleine Zeit und dasselbige pltzlich, in einem Augenblick,
I have (had) a small time and that suddenly, in a blinking of an eye,
y: U t ae p tsu: e: tsae e: tst o:zao
Mhe und Arbeit gehabt zu der Zeit der letzten Posaune.
Toil and labour (had). At the time (of) the last trombone.
U t a: o: o: U s vI t i: o
o:za
und habe groen Trost funden. Denn es wird die Posaune schallen,
and have great consolation found. For it will the trombone sound,
I vI : vi: ae zae U : U t i: o: e: ao / te: U f ve:s I
Ich will euch trsten, wie Einen seine Mutter trstet. und die Toten werden auferstehen unverweslich;
I shall you comfort, as one (by) ones mother is comforted. and the dead will rise again imperishable;
U t vi: ve: f v ve:
und wir werden verwandelt werden.
And we will changed be.

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GERMAN PRONUNCIATION GUIDE | NORBERT MEYN
Johannes Brahms | Ein Deutsches Requiem

MOVEMENT VI CD TRACK 22 MOVEMENT VII CD TRACK 23


I t Y ve: ze: I zI t i: to:
Dann wird erfllet werden Selig sind die Toten
Then will fulfilled be Blessed are the dead
v i: te: i: I e: t
das Wort, das geschrieben steht: die in dem Herrn sterben,
the word, which written stands: who in the lord die.
e: o:t I f U I e: zi:k f u:
Der Tod ist verschlungen in den Sieg. von nun an.
(The) death is entangled in the victory. From now on.
o:t vo: I e
a t x a: e: ae p I
Tod, wo ist dein Stachel? Ja, der Geist spricht,
Death, where is your sting? Yes, the Spirit speaks,
vo: I ae zi: k s zi: ru: f i: ae
Hlle, wo ist dein Sieg? da sie ruhen von ihrer Arbeit;
Hell, where is your victory? that they rest from their labour;
u: I vY i: i: a:x
Herr, du bist wrdig denn ihre Werke folgen ihnen nach.
Lord, you are worthy for their works follow them (after).
tsu: e: aes U t e: U t
zu nehmen Preis und Ehre und Kraft,
to receive praise and honour and power,
u: I
denn du hast alle Dinge geschaffen,
for you have all things created,
U t U ae v I a: zi: ve: z
und durch deinen Willen haben sie das Wesen
and through your will have they their being
U t zI t
und sind geschaffen.
and are created.

18 19
GERMAN PRONUNCIATION GUIDE | NORBERT MEYN
Johannes Brahms | Ein Deutsches Requiem

Note about IPA Phonetic Symbols:


The symbols in this booklet conform with the book Join our Community
Deutsche Aussprache (Hochsprache-Bhnensprache-Alltagssprache)
VMA Wiesbaden 2000, ISBN 3-928127-66-7 l Special discounts
Most dictionaries use similar symbols, but occasional variations are l Choral information and news
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