German for Singers: A Textbook of Diction and Phonetics

Third Edition

William Odom, Benno Schollum, Christina Balsam Curren

Details: 255 pages, B&W, Softcover, 8" x 10"

ISBN13: 978-1-63550-424-8

© 2025 | Available

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German for Singers: A Textbook of Diction and Phonetics, Third Edition maintains the clear and comprehensive approach that has made it the standard for German lyric diction instruction for more than 40 years. German language professor William Odom, professor and professional singer Benno Schollum, and professor and vocal coach Christina Balsam Curren have crafted a systematic introduction infused with their decades of experience teaching and singing in German. This classic text has been improved and updated to reflect current International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) usage, with new exercises, practical translations of all excerpts and song texts, and expanded audio resources on the PluralPlus companion website.

Both detailed and concise, the textbook is designed to give students a thorough overview of German lyric diction in one semester. The chapters flow in an organized and logical progression that guides students toward mastery. Difficult sounds are presented first so that students may receive adequate time to practice them as the complexity of the corresponding exercises increases. Appendices include pronunciation charts and additional song texts.

Organized to promote a systematic acquisition of German sounds and symbols, German for Singers also serves as a thorough reference manual for the singer, coach, or teacher. The updates to the third edition ensure that this foundational text will inspire the next generation of German lyric artists and teachers.

Key Features

  • An introduction to phonetics
  • Guidance on transcription for singers
  • Integrated exercises
  • Consonant and vowel charts for English and German
  • A selection of recommended song texts

New to the Third Edition

  • Updated IPA symbols
  • Revised exercises and added examples
  • Practical translations of song texts
  • Additional audio tracks on the companion website
  • For instructors, transcriptions of all exercises

PluralPlus Online Ancillary Materials

  • For instructors: PowerPoint slides, Transcriptions of All Exercises
  • For students: Audio files, Answers to Student Exercises, Additional IPA Exercises based on complete song texts

Preface to the Third Edition

Alphabetical Index


About the Authors

Part I. Phonetics

Chapter 1. Introductions to Phonetics
Chapter 2. Transcribing Sounds
Chapter 3. Describing Sounds: Articulatory Phonetics

Part II. The Sounds of German

Chapter 4. Introduction

General Rules
Reference Works

Chapter 5. The Sounds of r, ch

Section 1: r, rr Part I
Section 2: ch Part I

Chapter 6. Monophthongs–Part One: Long and Closed or Short and Open

Section 1: i
Section 2: ü, y
Section 3: e
Section 4: ö
Section 5: o
Section 6: u

Chapter 7. Word Structure and Stress

Section 1: Structural Elements
Section 2: Stress
Section 3: Pronunciation Problems
Section 4: Double Consonants and Tied Consonants
Section 5: Stress in Loan Words

Chapter 8. The Sounds of b, d, g

Section 1: b, bb
Section 2: d, dt, dd
Section 3: g, ig, gn, gg

Chapter 9. Monophthongs: Part II

Section 1: a
Section 2: ä
Section 3: ie

Chapter 10. The Sounds of s and Its Combinations

Section 1: s, ß, ss
Section 2: st, sp
Section 3: sch
Section 4: s + other consonants

Chapter 11. Diphthongs

Section 1: au
Section 2: ei
Section 3: eu, äu
Section 4: Other Vowel Combinations

Chapter 12. The Sounds of l; the Sounds of r (Conclusion)

Section 1: l, ll
Section 2: r, rr (Conclusion)

Chapter 13. The Sounds of h, j

Section 1: h
Section 2: j

Chapter 14. The Sounds of z, p, t, k, x, qu

Section 1: z, zz, tz
Section 2: p, pp, pf, ps, ph
Section 3: t, tt, th, tsch, ti
Section 4: k, kn, ck, kk
Section 5: x [ks]
Section 6: qu [kv]

Chapter 15. The Sounds of c and ch (Conclusion)

Section 1: c
Section 2: ch (Conclusion)
Section 3: chs

Chapter 16. The Sounds of w, v, f

Section 1: w (lower-case W)
Section 2: v
Section 3: f, ff

Chapter 17. The Sounds of m, n

Secton 1: m, mm
Section 2: n, nn, ng, nk

Appendix A. Charts

Charts 1. English Consonants
Chart 2. German Consonants
Chart 3. English Vowels
Chart 4. German Vowels

Appendix B. Additional Song Texts

William Odom

William Odom is professor of German language and music diction at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has provided coaching for concerts, recitals, and opera productions, including at the New Orleans Opera. He authored the first edition of German for Singers, which appeared in 1981, and has continued to play a central role in the development of subsequent editions.

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Benno Schollum

Austrian baritone Benno Schollum studied at the University of Music & the Performing Arts in Vienna, and holds a teaching post there for 40 years, as well as annual master classes since its inception at the Franz Schubert Institute in 1978. He has been a guest professor at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, at London's Royal Academy and Royal College of Music.  He combines teaching with an active singing career with repertoire extending from the great oratorios to opera, operetta, musicals, lieder, chansons and Viennese music.   He has performed around the globe with among others the Berlin Philhar­monic, San Francisco Symphony, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Vienna Symphony with conductors such as Yehudi Menuhin, Mstislav Rostropovich, Philippe Entremont, Adam Fischer, Zoltán Kocsis, Vladimir Fedoseyev and James Judd.  He played the role of Kuno in the movie of Carl Maria von Weber’s opera Der Freischütz and has recorded Schubert’s Winterreise, Haydn’s Creation, Händel’s Messiah,  Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Schubert Masses, Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, and most recently Viennese songs.

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Christina Balsam Curren

Christina Balsam Curren spent seven years as a repertory coach at the Niedersächsische Staatsoper in Hannover, Germany. This followed postgraduate studies in collaborative piano, opera coaching, lyric diction, and voice at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst “Mozarteum” (now Universität Mozarteum) in Salzburg, Austria, where she also taught in the opera school for two years. She has given classes and worked with singers, instrumentalists, and diverse choral and opera groups in many European countries and the United States. She has coached German diction and provided English translations for German choral and stage works for churches, the Eastman/Christ Church Schola Cantorum, the Chicago-based early music collective Schola Antiqua, Ohio Light Opera, Eastman Opera Theatre, and the Nazareth College Opera Workshop. Since 1989 she has taught at the Eastman School of Music, where she is a vocal coach and a professor of German and German lyric diction, assisting singers, collaborative pianists, and conductors in deepening their understanding of (and, hopefully, delight in) the nuances of German text and vocal music. 

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German for Singers: A Textbook of Diction and Phonetics, Third Edition comes with access to supplementary student and instructor resources on a PluralPlus companion website.

The companion website is located at:


The student resources include Audio Files, Answers to Student Exercises, and Additional IPA Exercises.

To access the resources, you must register on the companion website and log in using the access code located in the front of your textbook. If you purchased an eBook directly from Plural accessible on the Plural eReader, the resources are accessible within the Plural eBook.  


The instructor resources include include PowerPoint Slides and Exercise Transcriptions.
You will also have access to all of the student resources listed above.

To access the instructor resources, you must contact Plural Publishing, Inc. to be verified as an instructor and receive your access code.


            Tel: 866-758-7251 (toll free) or 858-492-1555

*Note for students: If you have purchased this textbook used or have rented it, your access code will not work if it was already redeemed by the original buyer of the book. Plural Publishing does not offer replacement access codes for used or rented textbooks.

Diction in Context: Singing in English, Italian, German, and French

First Edition

Brenda Smith

Details: 345 pages, B&W, Softcover, 8.5" x 11"

ISBN13: 978-1-63550-120-9

© 2021 | Available