Matthew Hoch - Dictionary of the Modern Singer
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Matthew Hoch


Titles in the Dictionaries for the Modern Musician series offer both the novice and the advanced artist key information designed to convey the field of study and performance for a major instrument or instrument class, as well as the workings of musicians in areas from conducting to composing. Unlike other encyclopedic works, contributions to this series focus primarily on the knowledge required by the contemporary musical student or performer. Each dictionary covers topics from instrument parts to playing technique, major works to key figures—a must-have for any musician’s personal library.

A Dictionary for the Modern Singer is an indispensable guide for students of singing, vocal pedagogues, and lovers of the art of singing. In addition to classical singing, genres, and styles, musical theatre and popular and global styles are addressed. With an emphasis on contemporary practice, this work includes terms and figures that influenced modern singing styles. Topics include vocal pedagogy, voice science, vocal health, styles, genres, performers, diction, and other relevant topics. This dictionary will help students to more fully understand the concepts articulated by their teachers.

Although texts and glossaries on particular aspects of singing already exist, A Dictionary for the Modern Singer fills a unique gap in the singer’s library because it is the only one-volume general reference geared toward today’s student of singing. An extensive bibliography is invaluable for students seeking to explore a particular subject in greater depth. Illustrations and charts further illuminate particular concepts. Additional appendixes address stage fright, tips on practicing, repertoire selection, audio technology, and an introduction to exploring contemporary commercial music (CCM).

A Dictionary for the Modern Singer will appeal to students of singing at all levels. For professionals, it will serve as a quick and handy reference guide, useful in the high school or college library and the home teaching studio alike; students and amateurs will find it accessible and full of fascinating information about the world of the singing.

Book Reviews

A Dictionary for the Modern Singer
Rowman & Littlefield, 2014

In Matthew Hoch’s book, A Dictionary for the Modern Singer, he shares concise but meaningful definitions for the most pertinent terms and concepts needed by students of singing. Much more than a basic dictionary, its topical focus and the reliability of its content make it a worthwhile addition to a singer’s library. Though targeted to undergraduate voice students, studio teachers will also benefit from having this reference guide on hand as it describes genres and styles, offers brief bios of renowned singers and scholars, and defines terms related to music theory, musical expression, and vocal pedagogy… Thorough without being pedantic, Hoch favors facts instead of opinions and reality over controversy. His multifaceted background as a performer, conductor, teacher, and scholar makes him more than qualified to write such an all-encompassing text. Besides the dictionary entries, Hoch also includes nearly 100 pages of charts, diagrams, historical listings, and essays that are just as useful as the first 200 pages of definitions… While Internet searches are certainly fast and convenient, the reliability of the information discovered is often dubious. Owning a go-to resource like A Dictionary for the Modern Singer that is this well researched and thoughtfully compiled is undoubtedly worth the investment.

Classical Singer

In our information explosion of the twenty-first century we can often match every singing question with an immediate answer, and explore with enthusiasm various helpful knowledge areas far beyond what we expected. Matthew Hoch’s A Dictionary for the Modern Singer enables this with trustworthy authority, and with an element of surprise. This one volume is more than a dictionary; it is a resource compendium for singers, singing enthusiasts, and voice teachers at any level of experience, and across several genres. It is commendable that Hoch has wisely drawn together this powerful and useful collection… In his introduction he marvelously and thoroughly articulates what the book is, and what it is not. He compares it to its precursors, and places his own offering within the needs of contemporary knowledge and practice in general… This publication serves as an alluring model for artist-educator-researchers, professors of practice, and performance psychology researchers who are, out of necessity, focused on their own “corner of the sky,” but who also have a magnetizing curiosity to, and their own background in this fascinating field in general… I am grateful for this inclusive yet inclusive and enticing gateway book. To have such accessible, pertinent information at the ready is buoying, educational, and generously helpful to all of us in the field. I have my own copy, and I’ll be recommending that my students and colleagues keep their own copy within arm’s reach.

Canadian Music Educator

This book [is] useful for the undergraduate, graduate, and serious student of voice and choral music. It is also handy to have on the shelf for quick information for the professional singer, voice pedagogue, and choral conductor… In short, there is something for everyone!

The Choral Journal

The cover of A Dictionary for the Modern Singer commends it as an indispensable voice guide for students, teachers, professionals, and amateurs. That is an all-encompassing claim, and I think it will find favour with readers in all of those categories. The dictionary itself is educative, and useful for checking into for a cursory view. The essays, appendices and reading lists provide valuable in-depth information for continuing education. Have it on the piano to refer to; read it; and re-read it!

Australian Journal of Music Education

With A Dictionary for the Modern Singer, baritone Matthew Hoch has produced a book unlike any other reference work currently available to singers. Part of the Dictionaries for the Modern Musician series that intends to “offer both the novice and the advanced artist lists of key terms designed to fully cover the field of study and performance,” the book treats an extraordinarily broad range of topics. It’s a handsomely produced volume of 306 pages that is sure to become a fixture in voice studios and personal reference libraries across the country… A Dictionary for the Modern Singer presents a wider range of topics than any comparably sized reference work for singers on the market. The host of subjects includes terms and concepts from vocal pedagogy, vocal literature, music theory, performance practice in a wide variety of styles (including contemporary commercial music), historical musicology, acoustics, world music, audio technology, anatomy, medicine and more. The book is an excellent reference for a quick, general answer about almost any singing-related topic. As such, it is a friendly resource for high school and undergraduate singing students and deserves a place of honor in their singing teachers’ studios… In both concept and execution A Dictionary for the Modern Singer is a valuable resource that singers in all styles and at all levels (and their teachers) quickly will count as a favorite. Highly recommended.

                The Triangle of Mu Phi Epsilon

The lexicon is vast, encompassing anatomy, pedagogy, performers, teachers, terms, and vocal music of many genres. It offers general information about theory, history, and music literature, and includes singers of numerous styles, stage directors, collaborative pianists, choral conductors, and acting teachers. The subjects are eclectic (as evidenced by three successive entries: “Armenian chant,” Armstrong, Louis,” and “ars antiqua”), and none of the explanations are long. Hoch explains each term in clear, articulate prose… [He] writes exceedingly well and the research is detailed… A Dictionary for the Modern Singer is a helpful single-volume reference for any studio.

                The Journal of Singing

Hoch offers a practical resource intended for singers, voice teachers, and lovers of the art of singing. It is truly comprehensive, encompassing not only classical genres and styles, but also musical theater, popular music, and folk and traditional music. Topics include vocal pedagogy, voice science, vocal health, styles, genres, performers, and diction. Also included are useful appendixes, among which are International Phonetic Alphabet charts, anatomy diagrams, the German Fach (vocal category) chart, and effects of medication on the voice. Highly recommended.


The amount of information in this 318-page volume is impressive. As a teacher of singing, my first thoughts were what a valuable resource this would be for my students. I teach at a school where I am required to teach classical voice as well as musical theater and other contemporary styles of music. A Dictionary for the Modern Singer bridges the gap between the classical and contemporary singer, and serves to translate information across the diverse facets of the discipline… The definitions are concise while at the same time thorough and comprehensive… I highly recommend A Dictionary for the Modern Singer. It is a must-have reference guide for any voice teacher, student, or performer. I am certainly going to use it in my studio teaching and suggest that it be made part of my school's classical and musical theater curriculum. Bravo to Matthew Hoch for this invaluable addition to any serious singer's library.

Voice and Speech Review

Matthew Hoch’s A Dictionary for the Modern Singer is quite a useful tool. The entries are concise, clear, and its scope is appreciable… It is a handy first place to go for information, and that is the author’s intention. Backed by appreciable scholarship and with plenty of bibliographic information, readers can strike out on their own to deepen research interests. Recommended.

The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians

We know that voices are unique and personal. There are deep bass voices, high-pitched cutting voices and melodious mellow voices. Each of us changes the volume, intensity and rhythm of our voice to suit the context or the people we are talking to. In short, our voice expresses who we are, what our thoughts and intentions are and how we feel. So, how do you acquire a beautiful voice? How do you wade through the many terms during your first singing lesson: head voice, chest voice, portamento, rounded voice, and so on? Acquiring a correct vocal technique, both for singing and speaking, takes time and commitment, but having the appropriate theoretical knowledge makes the learning process much easier. How do you master the art of breathing, what does ‘support’ mean? Many of the answers to these questions can be found in Matthew Hoch’s book, A Dictionary for the Modern Singer. It is a wide-ranging and varied text, complete with illustrations and tables that show the specific anatomy of the organs and systems involved during the phonation process to use the voice correctly.

International Choral Bulletin

This book is an authoritative, well-researched and referenced work that will become an indispensible guide to student singers, giving them self-sufficiency to decipher their music, from tempo markings to languages and provide them with a resource from which they can start more a more in-depth study of their discipline…. [This book] is a very successful endeavor. The subject range is vast but appropriate given the range of the singing discipline In one volume lies much of the basic information a singer needs and a refresher for those of us who learned some of these terms a long time ago or perhaps need some more current information. As a reference book for the singer, student, teacher and enthusiast it is a fine starting place for more in-depth study. Recommended.

The Opera Journal

Three years in the making, Matthew Hoch's aptly-titled tome is now in print—and what a handsome book it is! A Dictionary for the Modern Singer succeeds in giving singers and voice teachers a great deal of information… Rather than read with an eye for what was missing, I found myself marveling at what he was able to include. It is rather curious and exciting to see formant, mucosal wave and spectral envelope presented alongside Joan Sutherland, Vocal Wisdom and Porpora. That these terms cohabitate rather than compete is good news to those with an interest in historical vocal pedagogy, since the word modern can be taken to mean a rejection of the past. Hoch steers clear of this by adroitly focusing on the needs of all singers… Targeted and detailed offerings—along with essays by leading figures within the contemporary commercial music scene—make A Dictionary for the Modern Singer an important resource for both the novice and professional singer. That it fits nicely in the hand, is well made, and is a pleasure to read speaks volumes. If knowledge is power, A Dictionary for the Modern Singer provides it. Highly recommended!

VoiceTalk: Historical Perspectives on the Art of Singing

A Dictionary for the Modern Singer by Matthew Hoch is a comprehensive, valuable, and readable addition to the canon on voice and pedagogy. He maintains an objective and neutral perspective, which is rare, welcome, and exceedingly difficult to do, given the passion and strong beliefs that we voice teachers have about technique! The appendices put information (such as the the Fach System) at our fingertips, so that we don’t have to search for it, even if we have other sources. The book goes on my “must have” list and will be a favorite for gifts to friends in voice and related fields. It is said that each generation stands on the shoulders of those who came before, and Dr. Hoch has done just that, masterfully!

Martha Randall, Chair of the American Academy of Teachers of Singing (AATS)
Past President of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS)

Dr. Matthew Hoch's new book, A Dictionary for the Modern Singer, is a unique addition to the libraries of teachers, singers, and singing enthusiasts. It reflects Dr. Hoch's wide interest and knowledge about essential information and available resources for further study. He covers a variety of singing styles with contributions by leading authorities. Teachers will want to keep the book close to where they teach.

Marvin Keenze, Professor Emeritus, Westminster Choir College
Chairman, International Congress of Voice Teachers

A Dictionary for the Modern Singer is a welcome addition to the list of reference works every singer should own. Dr. Hoch does the field of singing a great service, providing singers and teachers with well written, accurate definitions of the jargon of our profession. For the first time under one cover we have a work that defines terms which represent the breadth of the art of singing. This work will serve to unite the profession!

Allen Henderson, DMA, Professor of Voice, Georgia Southern University
Executive Director, National Association of Teachers of Singing

Author Matthew Hoch has compiled a tool that will be useful the first time it is opened. I believe it will become a standard reference tool for the training of singers. The more advanced singer will also find it valuable, offering a standard to measure individual perception and knowledge.… Growing the best of the art of singing is close to the heart of virtually every singer. Thanks to Dr. Hoch for taking a giant step in that direction with the publication of A Dictionary for the Modern Singer.

Donald Simonson, DM, Professor and Chair of Voice, Iowa State University
Past President, National Association for Teachers of Singing

A Dictionary for the Modern Singer is a valuable resource for singers of any genre. It is also satisfyingly useful to contemporary commercial singers in the Broadway and pop/rock fields. Too often these singers are excluded and left to figure it out for themselves, leaving terrible gaps in their musical knowledge. This comprehensive collection levels the playing field and is a must-have in any young singer's library. Universities, take heed: This book is destined to become the gold standard in vocal terminology.

David Sabella-Mills, Executive Director, Broadway Theatre Project
Past President, New York Singing Teachers Association (NYSTA)

I highly recommend A Dictionary for the Modern Singer. Dr. Matthew Hoch's approach is valuable not just for the performer, but equally for the choral musician and conductor. His long association with prestigious choirs has made him sensitive to the issues choral artists encounter, and his experience as an accomplished and thoughtful singer allows him to speak clearly and distinctly as an emerging leader in the field of vocal pedagogy. Practical, concise information is a universal desire necessary for professional and student alike. Dr. Hoch lives in both worlds and is able to bridge them nicely.

Donald Nally, Conductor, The Crossing and the Chicago Bach Project
Professor of Music and Director of Choral Organizations, Northwestern University


Click here to purchase A Dictionary for the Modern Singer.

© 2015 Matthew Hoch