Sing on the vowels

Sing on the Vowels

Fall in love with them!


Sustained tones in singing are not static.   Sing on the vowels!  They’re not to be merely held, but rather oscillated; that is, they are created on continually moving air and vowel regeneration. One of the best ways to think of vowel recreation is as a continuous alphabet (vowel) soup originating in the pharynx and pouring out of the oral cavity.

The vowel should be reinventing itself over and over again, both inside the oral cavity and pharynx and out into the outside resonator (the hall). See the vowel over and over in your mind’s eye, feel it recreating itself inside the track (resonators) and then visualize it going out and continuing to oscillate into the second resonator (the hall in which you’re singing).

"Cyril" Princess Ida, Southeastern Savoyards, Atlanta 1986

Creating vowels while singing is an active process that involves imagination, breath energy, and vowel nurturing. You have to “milk” the vowel or it becomes stagnant, loses its integrity, and often the pitch goes flat.  It’s not enough to just think of keeping the soft palate elevated, the jaw released, the proper tongue position and lip shaping – you need to actually keep “thinking” about the vowel as a whole – this will do all of those things simultaneously, assuming the vowel concept is correct.  And it’s better to be holistic about vowel generation than focusing on one local mechanical action such as palate lifting or tongue positioning.

Voices are different from other instruments in that you have to create the specific resonator space for each vowel and keep doing it.  It starts in the mind’s eye and continues with the reinvention of the vowel concept throughout each note.  An instrument such as a trombone has a bore (bell) that is more or less already set. The singing resonator is capable of constant change, and if it’s not being continually influenced to stay open for the integrity of the vowel, it will likely collapse or lose its shape causing the sound quality and projection to be affected.

Sing on the vowels!  The thought process and energy of vowel creation while singing cannot be overstated. This is one of the most important concepts in making consistent beautiful tones through a sustained long note and from vowel to vowel throughout a phrase. “Fall in love” with the vowel on which you’re singing moment by moment throughout each note you sing, especially long tones, and keep nurturing it until the cutoff or until the vowel shape changes to the next note.medium_9378737707

So, fall in love with the vowels as you sing them, “reinvent them” over and over on every note you sing – this will improve your singing tremendously!

 The Power of Visualization in Singing! (next blog post)

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