Chanter à tue-tête

I am completely indebted to Clare for helping me out with the blog this week. For those who don’t know Clare, she is an excellent  French tutor, an author, and a wonderful soprano too. 



Picture by Tamsin Edwards TexArt

“As a long-time, regular attender of Raunds Community Choir, I do enjoy a good sing! J’adore chanter à tue-tête!

chanter à tue-tête – to sing at the top of one’s voice

literally: to sing at kill-head

register: normal

Capucine, qui avait un peu trop bu, chantait à tue-tête, « On a besoin de toi, amour! »

Capucine, who had drunk a bit too much, was singing at the top of her voice, ‘We need you, love!’

Being curious as always, I decided to find out the origins of this strange expression. I looked to the terrific website Expressio for an explanation. It appears that the adverb à tue-tête dates from the sixteenth century. At that time the verbtuer not only meant ‘to kill’ but had other parallel meanings. It also meant ‘to lose consciousness’ and ‘to tire oneself out’ or ‘to destroy one’s health’. Therefore, chanter à tue-tête didn’t mean ‘to sing until dead’, I’m glad to say, but rather ‘to sing until tired out’.

Alors, je chante juste ou je chante faux? So do I sing in tune or out of tune? I have to admit that sometimes, as the French say,  je chante comme une casserole! – I sing like a saucepan – and you can imagine that isn’t very good! Tant pis parce que je chante pour le plaisir et c’est tout ce qui compte – too bad because I sing for pleasure and that’s all that counts!

Many thanks to all those who have bought a copy of my new book Je mourrai moins bête: 200 French expressions to help you die less stupid. If you have enjoyed reading it, please leave a review on Amazon. Here are the links for and”


Eric Arseneaux

I had never heard of Eric Arseneaux and I have soprano Clare to thank for introducing me to his videos.

Eric is a vocal coach and has put a good many useful resources online at his site

Warming up the voice properly is really really important and Eric has produced a free resource for singers to help us take care of our voices. He goes through the ‘why’ of warm-ups as well as the ‘how’.

It’s a brilliant video. Eric is very engaging and personable, and it’s well worth watching and following his techniques.

Professional Warm-Up

Thank you so much Clare.

Debra x