Music Still Life

Music & Reading Recommendations


The following is a list of recommended books for singers looking to build their knowledge in the discipline of singing. By hovering over each link, you can see basic ordering info from Amazon, and clicking on the link will take you to their site. Some of these books are also available through local independent booksellers like Common Good Books.

Singing Manuals

For some of the most thorough technical and scientific explanations of the singing voice, Richard Miller's works are unsurpassed. However, for singers looking for a more basic approach to technique, Oren Brown's book is perhaps a better starting point.

Diction Manuals

The following three works are the standard diction manuals, and are highly useful for any serious singer. For French diction, some may prefer the more straight forward manual by Thomas Grubb, and singers specializing in repertoire outside the 'big four' are advised to find suitable reference works.

Diction Handbooks

Singers looking for a more basic all-in-one approach to diction should consider the following references.

Song Texts

Both of these books give line by line translations of hundreds of song texts, as well as other pertinent information about the texts. Miller's work includes all song genres, while Fischer-Dieskau's is for German Lieder exclusively.

History and Performance

These works give the singer information about the history and performance practices of various song genres. For those particularly interested in historical styles, Martha Elliott's book is the most comprehensive.


While nothing beats Milton Cross's "Stories of the Great Operas" (and if you see it at a used book store, buy it), the Penguin guide is much more comprehensive and scholarly, if not quite so fun a read. The Oxford History is a fine reference for those interested in the historical context of opera's development.