Vowels are a phenomena of:
Why are vowels a phenomena of resonance?
Because they result from a complex series of relationships between the oral and pharyngeal resonators, which undergo an infinite variety of changes in size, shape, aperture, and surface of walls during speech or song.
How are the characteristic qualities of vowel sounds produced?
By the coupling of the predominant resonance pitches of the oral and pharyngeal cavities.
How are vowels identified?
By the frequencies involved.
How do extreme pitches affect vowels?
They become distorted.
True or false: The identifying pitch characteristics of a vowel are relatively constant.
What does the identity of a vowel depend on?
The presence of strong partials located in specified frequency bands.
What are some ways that vowels are grouped together?
front, back, and central, tense and lax, stressed and unstressed, etc.
What is a cardinal vowel?
a theoretical vowel made with a tongue-position that is invariable, easily described in writing or printing so as to be communicable at a distance.
What are the four cardinal vowels?
[i], [a], bright [a], and [u]
What are the five Latin vowels (aka Italian vowels, singer’s vowels, and long vowels)?
[i], [e], bright [a], [o], and [u].
Define phoneme.
One of the set of speech sounds in any given language that serve to distinguish one word from another. In other words, an elementary unit of speech that distinguishes one sound from another.
True or false: A phoneme is a family of sounds in a given language.
Two sounds can be called phonemes when:
They cannot be interchanged without changing the meaning of the word.
What articulation-related ability is one of the most important a singer can have?
To have an ear capable of making fine discriminations in the sounds of the language in which he is singing.
Why is preserving phonemic identity important?
If you don’t do it, you won’t be understood.
True or false: A phoneme will be produced exactly the same way every time you sing it.
False. A singer must be able to make tonal adjustments within the phonemes to permit the most efficient use of his vocal mechanism, so beautiful sounds can enhance the meaning of the text.
Meaning of “articulate:”
To make the movements and adjustments of the speech organs necessary to form speech sounds distinctly.
The most important articulators:
The lips, the lower jaw, and the tongue.
Articulators that are secondary in importance:
Soft palate, glottis, epiglottis, and larynx.
Two basic principles which contribute to effective use of the articulators:
All movements of the articulators should be quick, precise, and positive, ending in a position which is free of unnecessary tension and in singing. Articulatory movements must be exaggerated especially with beginning students if the words are to be consistently understood.
What is a good first step in establishing good articulatory habits?
Imagine that all your articulatory movements are taking place just in front of your mouth, with everything moving very crisply and precisely but without tension.
What needs to happen in order for the lips to function well as articulators?
They must be free from tension and ready to move as needed. They must bounce apart freely when contacting each other.
A singer’s face must be:
pleasant, with a vital expression as if you are about to smile. It must be used to communicate.
What is the primary determinant of the type of external orifice on the resonator system?
The lips
True or false: The lips have a strong effect on the articulatory effectiveness, but not the timbre of a voice.
False. Both.
Why shouldn’t a singer pull back the lips?
It can tighten the pharynx in the vicinity of the soft palate and can cause the tone quality to become too bright.
Why shouldn’t you pull your lips against your teeth or your upper lip down?
This tends to darken the tone quality and make the voice sound muffled because of the restricted space and type of opening.
What lip position is desirable when singing?
A slight smile, with a feeling that your lips aren’t touching your teeth.
Why do some singers purse their lips a bit, and why is it not good?
The lips resemble a megaphone and help produce a loud, ringing tone that will carry a long way, but it is often tight, hard, and capable of little tonal or dynamic variation. The thrusting forward of the lips tightens the back of the throat and creates tension in the lips and facial muscles.
Three words describing correct lip movement:
quick, precise, positive.
In order for the lower jaw to function well as an articulator, it must be:
Free of tension and free to move.
How is good jaw position achieved?
What sensation can indicate that your jaw is sufficiently open?
The sensation of cool air going down the back of your throat.
Describe the top of the throat when the jaw drops freely:
There is a gentle lifting at the top of the throat as the soft palate rises.
What happens if the jaw is tight?
The throat will be tight, and the sound will be tight.
What two things should you practice to acquire a full and easy opening of the mouth?
1. Beginning of a yawn to free the jaw from tension, letting it drop down of its own weight. 2. Saying or singing “Yah yah yah” while opening the mouth freely with a down and back motion of the lower jaw.
Why must the jaw be free to move at all times?
Because the amount of mouth space must be adjusted as you sing higher or lower, for different vowels, and change dynamic levels.
What happens to the pitch when the size of the external opening of a resonator is increased?
The sound gets higher.
As you sing higher pitches, the mouth’s opening should:
What are the two kinds of resonance space in the mouth?
External and internal
What is the difference between external and internal mouth space?
External space is created in the front of the mouth and is controlled by the amount of mouth opening, and internal space is created int he back of the mouth and is controlled by the action of the jaw joints.
True or false: It is possible to elevate the larynx during the beginning of a yawn.
How to achieve a wider width in the mouth:
Allow the jaw to drop freely open and then swing back.
True or false: Jaw position has nothing to do with correct laryngeal position.
False. It helps keep the correct laryngeal position.
What conditions must be met for the tongue to function well as a resonator?
It must be free of unnecessary tension and ready to move as needed.
This is the most important articulator.
How does tension in the tongue manifest itself?
In the tone quality.
Where is the tongue’s point of reference?
It should lay flat with the tip touching the back of the bottom gum ridge.
Must the tongue leave the point of reference to make vowel sounds?
What happens if the tongue gets pulled too far back?
It tightens the pharynx, depresses the larynx, and almost blocks off the lower pharynx.
True or false: The location and height of the arch of the tongue will change as the vowel changes, but the tip of the tongue should not leave the gum ridge.
What is the one thing all consonants have in common?
They all lend some degree of restriction or obstruction to the path of the sound, causing more or less conspicuous noise elements.
Name two basic principles of articulation of consonants:
1. All movements should be quick, precise, and positive, ending in a position that is free of unnecessary tension. 2. Articulatory movements should be exaggerated.
What happens if you anticipate or prolong the use of a consonant?
It harms the quality of the tone or can block it completely.
What are two reasons consonants should be put on firmly?
1. Consonants are subordinate in sonority to vowels and don’t carry well. 2. Firm consonants help a singer to maintain good, solid tone production on the vowels.
A consonant which is the first sound in a word is:
A consonant that is at the end of a word is:
A consonant that is in the middle of a word is:
What happens if an initial consonant sound is made too slowly?
The tension in the articulators may carry over into the vowel.
What happens when the initial consonant is weak?
The vowel will be weak.
What happens if the initial consonant is made below the pitch of the note to be sung?
There will be scoop to the right pitch on the vowel.
How can one avoid starting a consonant below pitch?
Think the initial consonant on the same pitch as the following consonant and give it sufficient energy to start firmly.
What are the three bilabial consonants?
[b], [p], and [m].
How are bilabial consonant sounds made?
The lips are brought firmly together and then allowed to bounce apart for a second movement.
How are labiodental consonants made?
Bring the lower lip firmly against the upper teeth and let them bounce apart.
In initial and final consonants, this movement is very important:
Vigorous return movement
Why is a vigorous return movement important in initial and final consonants?
With initials, it clears the way for good vowel sounds, and with finals, it removes the habit of ignoring or slighting them and helps the listener understand the words of the text.
What is the function of a vowel?
To carry the tone.
What is the function of the consonant?
To break up the tone into distinct, comprehensible units.
What is the objective of quick, precise, and positive consonants?
To break the tone into distinct, comprehensible units WITHOUT seriously interfering with the flow of the vocal tone.
What is the objective of quick, precise, and positive vowels?
To establish and maintain a consistent channel through which the tone can flow without unnecessary variations of quality or quantity of sound.
This is the heart of beautiful singing.
Steady states are important for:
What is a steady state?
The vowel is established immediately and maintained as long as possible in the duration of the note value assigned to it. One steadily produced vowel sound changes almost abruptly into the next one, using the intervening consonants as stepping stones in the stream of tone.
This is an ever-present problem with inexperienced singers.
Inability to establish legato
These are better terms for “vowel purity” or “pure vowels.”
Phonemic identity or phonemic integrity
Advocates of vowel purity seem to imply that:
There is only one pure or true form of the vowel and it never varies.
Retaining phonemic integrity means that (example):
An [i] vowel will maintain its basic [i]-ness despite all the variations it may undergo.
Which version of a phoneme should a singer choose?
That which allows a singer to move smoothly from one vowel to another without any drastic changes in vocal technique.
What happens as pitch rises and a singer reaches the upper portion of their modal voice?
The matter of phonemic identity is pushed closer to its acceptable boundaries. Vowels move closer to dark ah or uh.
Define aggiustamento.
The modification of vowels towards uh or dark ah to allow for smooth transition into the top of the modal voice.
The front vowels move _______ as the voice goes higher.
The back vowels move __________ as the voice goes higher.
Singers who insist on singing only pure vowels will experience:
loss of quality, tight phonation, elevated larynx, and vocal strain.
Two English terms for aggiustamento:
vowel migration or vowel modification
What are three ways a teacher might approach vowel modification?
1. Some recognize that vowels modify in the upper voice and encourage it by allowing more space while thinking of the basic vowel sound you’re trying to produce. Jaw drop is encouraged. 2. Others think you should encourage migration by thinking the vowel toward which you are modifying. Singing [i], think [I]. 3. Others feel that vowels migrate towards the center, so all should be colored with ah or uh.
Why is it difficult to understand sopranos when they sing high?
They sing pitches higher than the fundamental frequencies of the vowels they’re trying to sing.
What are three deviations from what happens in normal female speech that can be noticed when a soprano sings?
1. The singing voice sounds louder than the speaking voice. 2. It is difficult to hear what vowel is intended. 3. The jaw opening appears to be more dependent on the high phonation frequency than on the vowel, particularly at high pitches. The jaw is open much wider on the highest notes than the lowest regardless of vowel.
What are two directions from which faults related to articulation can be approached?
1. from the articulator involved and 2. from the speech sound involved.
What are some faults related to the articulators?
Hypofunctional use of the lips, jaw, or tongue, hyperfunctional use of the lips, jaw, or tongue, faulty speech sounds, lack of legato.
How is hypofunctional use of the lips, jaw, or tongue corrected?
1. Sing in a mirror. 2. Request some kind of facial response, like a slight smile. 3. use exercises which require a lot of lip, jaw, or tongue action, like yahyahyah. 4. Alternate pulling the lips as far back as possible and pushing them as far forward as possible to increase their mobility. 5. Ask him to sing as if someone is reading his lips or a child is trying to understand him.
What are the two forms which hyperfunctional use of the lips takes?
The lips can either be locked in a rigid mold or they can be hyperactive.
How does locking the lips into a rigid mold affect the resonance system and limit its capabilities?
It causes tension that limits the resonance capabilities of the voice.
How is lip rigidity corrected?
1. General tension relaxation exercises. 2. Sing in front of a mirror.
3. Demonstrate adverse effects of that lip position on the sound. 4. Suggest the beginning of a yawn to relax the throat, jaw, and lips.
How is hyperactivity of the lips corrected?
1. Sing in front of a mirror. 2. Demonstrate adverse effects. 3. Have him experiment with all vowels and consonants to see the minimum movement needed to form them.
What is hyperfunctional use of the jaw?
The jaw is forced down too far, pushed forward on certain sounds, or locked on one position.
What vowel is most notorious for encouraging a singer to jut the jaw forward?
How is hyperfunctional jaw corrected?
1. General exercises for relaxation of tension. 2. Specific exercises to relax the head, neck, shoulders, and jaw. 3. Use a mirror. 4. Demonstrate adverse effects. 5. Practice beginning of a yawn and dropping jaw down and back. 6. Yahyahyah.
What are two ways that hyperfunctional use of the tongue manifests itself?
1. In movements which are too large and too slow because excess tension is limiting its mobility and 2. the tongue is pulled back into the throat, pushing forward against the teeth, or held elevated in the mouth.
How is hyperfunctional use of the tongue corrected?
1. Stick out the tongue as far as possible and then retract it as far as possible. Repeat really fast. 2. Run the tip of the tongue smoothly around the inner surface of the lips several times clockwise and then counterclockwise. 3. Try to touch your nose and chin alternately with the tip of your tongue. 4. Lay your tongue out over your lower lip and vocalize on ah, persist until you can do it without the tongue trying to pull back in your mouth, quivering, or constantly trying to change its shape. 5. Select songs that require fast articulatory movements.
What can faulty speech sounds result from?
the articulators not functioning properly, or a lack of proper concept of sounds.
How are faulty consonants corrected?
1. Isolate and identify the faulty sound and demonstrate the correct one. 2. Point out its identifying characteristics. 3. Explain how correct sound differs from faulty one and which specific articulators are involved in both. 4. Establish a good practice routine which will implement and encourage the establishment of a new set of reflexes to replace the previous incorrect ones. 5. Assign word drills from speech texts which feature the problem sound in various locations within the word. 6. Use audio-visuals for reinforcement – practice tapes, records, a mirror, etc.
How are faulty vowels corrected?
1. Isolate and identify the faulty vowel and demonstrate the correct one. 2. Point out its identifying characteristics. 3. Use a vowel chart or word list showing the sequence of vowels and select familiar words to illustrate. 4. Explain how corrected sound differs from the faulty sound. 5. Establish a practice routine which will implement and encourage the establishment of a new set of reflexes to replace the old one. 6. Assign vocalises or songs which make prominent use of the desired new vowel sound. 7. Use audio-visuals for reinforcement. 8. Once the student has established the new phoneme, he may need to be guided to a more discriminating choice of sounds with that phoneme.
Vowel sequence with corresponding words.
beet bit bait bet bat by balm bottom bawl boat book boot but

My beet was bit. My bait got bet. My bat flew by and put balm on my bottom. I started to bawl and got in the boat with my book and my boots and my butt.

What are disconnected sounds?
The failure to maintain the steady state of each vowel sound until the almost abrupt transition into the next one. It is a lack of legato.
How are disconnected sounds corrected?
1. Have the student sing an entire song on one vowel. 2. When he can do that, have him sing the same song using all the correct vowels but no consonants. 3. Let him sing the actual text, maintaining legato.
True or false: The speaking voice and the singing voice lie in the same range.
False. The speaking voice lies in a much more restricted range of pitches than singing.
How large is the speaking range?
Around a 4th or 5th.
What is the difference between the habitual pitch level and the optimal pitch level?
Ideally, nothing. The habitual pitch level is the limited pitch range within which a person customarily expresses himself for everytday speech. Optimal pitch level is the pitch range within which a person can achieve the best quality and quantity of sound for the least expenditure of effort.
True or false: Most people talk in their optimum pitch range.
A hyperfunctional voice will eventually become:
How does a teacher determine a student’s habitual pitch level?
1. Ask him to pronounce bee bay bah boh boo several times in his normal conversational voice and leet him repeat until he is comfortably within the sequence of sounds and seems to be speaking naturally. 2. Have him repeat it two more times and hold “bee.” 3. Locate that pitch on the piano. 4 That pitch is likely the center of his habitual pitch level. He probably covers one or two whole steps on either side of it.
What are three things a student should know about their optimal pitch level?
1. When they speak there, they’ll sound better. 2. It refers to an area of the voice, not just one pitch. 3. Vocal problems can camouflage optimal pitch.
This note often coincides with the lower limits of a singer’s optimal pitch level.
The lowest note they can sing well.
How do you find the optimal pitch level?
Find the lowest note a singer can sing well and comfortably. The optimal pitch level will start there and extend up a fourth or fifth.
Six headings under which common speech faults can be grouped:
articulation, breathing and support, pitch, quality, quantity, and rate.
What are the speaking faults related to pitch?
1. Speaking too high. 2. Speaking too low. 3. Speaking in too restricted a range. 4. Speaking in stereotyped pitch patterns.
What are the faults related to quantity?
1. Speaking too softly. 2. Speaking too loudly. 3. Speaking with too much variation of force.
What are some faults related to rate?
1. Speaking too fast. 2. Speaking too slowly. 3. Speaking with too much variation of rate.
What is the best correction for rate problems?
Record the speaker and make them aware of issues.
The areas of vocal technique that seem to depend most strongly on the student’s ability to coordinate various functions:
1. Extending the vocal range to its maximum potential. 2. Developing consistent tone quality throughout that range. 3. Developing flexibility and agility. 4. Achieving balanced vibrato.
True or false: Singing is a natural process.
False. It is a highly skilled art and requires highly developed muscle reflexes.
You must learn to exercise your voice in this manner:
An intelligent manner. You must constantly think about the kind of sound you want to make before you make them.
What are the purposes for vocal exercises?
Warming up the voice, extending the range, lining up the voice horizontally and vertically, acquiring vocal technique, and correcting faults.
There are three factors which significantly affect the ability to sing higher or lower. What are they?
1. energy 2. space and 3. depth
When you sing higher, do you need more or less energy?
The word “energy” in singing refers to:
The total response of the body to the making of sound. It includes the dynamic relationship between the breathing in and breathing out muscles and the amount of breath pressure delivered to the vocal folds and their resistance to that pressure, and it refers to the dynamic level of the sound.
A crescendo is best executed by:
Thinking of increasing the energy of your entire body instead of just the volume.
Why should the singer allow more space as she sings higher?
It helps maintain the proper laryngeal position. It also helps with vowel modification and keeping good color in the voice.
Two words of caution about space:
1. The mouth can be opened too wide and 2. The throat can be held too open.
True or false: On your highest note, your mouth should be opened as wide as it will go.
The natural tendency of the human voice is to do this as you sing higher.
Get thin, tighten, and the larynx gets high.
How is the rising of the larynx and the whitening and tightening of the voice when singing higher counteracted?
Add depth.
What does depth refer to in singing?
The actual sensations of depth in the body and vocal mechanism, and mental concepts of depth as related to tone quality.
As you sing up a scale, you should feel the sensations move:
Deeper and deeper within your body and vocal mechanism. Each tone requres a deeper sensation than the one before, and these sensations can be related to the throat and larynx, the chest, and the support mechanism.
As a singer sings higher, he should feel his center of gravity move:
When singing high notes, avoid these things:
1. Reaching mentally for high notes. 2. Reaching physically for high notes. 3. Pulling in too strongly on the upper abdomen. 4. Pulling back the corners of the mouth into the operatic smile…this may seem to help high notes, but it is achieved at the expense of elevating the larynx and/or excessive tension in the soft palate and pharyngeal walls, with consequent whiteness or shrillness.
When singing low notes, avoid these things.
1. Reaching down mentally for low notes. 2. Reaching down physically for low notes. 3. Using too much support for low notes. 4. Leaving the mouth too open – low notes need less space. 5. Letting the sound become breathy and dark.
By constantly adjusting these variables, a singer can learn to sing to the natural limits of the vocal range without obvious or distracting changes of quality and technique:
Energy, space, and depth.
What are some approaches, other than through energy, space, and depth, that could be used to line up the voice?
Through vowels, through registers, and through registers.
Describe the ideal vocal tone.
The ideal vocal tone is a balanced one containing a distribution of both high and low partials – enough low partials to impart richness, warmth, and roundness and enough high ones to impart ring and brilliance.
What is horizontal vowel alignnment?
Being able to move from one vowel sound to the next on the same pitch.
What is vertical vowel alignment?
The ability to sing vowels throughout the vocal range without any obvious changes of quality.
Each vowel has its own ___________ which must be preserved.
Phonemic identity.
The primary determinant of vowel sounds is the:
In order for vowels to be lined up horizontally or equalized, they need to make some minor compromises. True or false?
On sounds which require lip-rounding, the lips should protrude out as much as possible and be rounded tightly. True or false?
False. They should move no further from the neutral position than necessary to give the vowel its distinctive character.
What is the basic principle behind horizontal vowel alignment?
The tongue operates from a neutral position, moving to the positions for other vowels with ease and economy of motion, not in any sense restricting the action of the articulators but making their work easier without hurting the phonemic identity of each vowel.
How is the neutral tongue position best found?
Beginning of a yawn.
What are the two aspects of vertical vowel alignment?
1. Singing throughout the range on the same vowel. 2. Singing on a random sequence of vowels such as those normally encountered in a song.
This skill is another aspect of vertical alignment:
The ability to sing wide intervals without distracting changes of tone quality or dynamic levels.
What are the two cardinal errors people make when singing wide intervals?
1. They grab a large breath before the note which interrupts or disconnects the flow of tone, or they pour on an excess of breath support just to make sure they have enough.
Making this type of connection will help a singer sing a high note.
A legato connection.
True or false: If a lower note is long enough, crescedo on it after moving to the upper tone.
Don’t think of a note as a high note, think of it as a note with more:
Energy, space, and depth.
Slightly lowering the chin before high notes does this for a singer.
Lowers the larynx.
What is important in singing down wide intervals?
The singer must learn not to maintain so much support; he won’t be heard on the low note. Effort must relax, and the two notes should be connected smoothly. Lower tones should be felt more in the mouth and more compact in feeling than high notes.
Why would a man use falsetto exercises?
To teach him not to reach up for high notes.
What are three ways to develop the voice through falsetto?
1. Slide from falsetto down to chest. 2. Start with a loud falsetto and go straight into modal voice. 3. Jump two octaves from low to falsetto.
If a woman’s voice sounds small and breathy in the top, she is likely singing in:
What is static adjustment?
Failure to navigate the passagio.
What is the appearance of the segments of the voice due to?
The resonance phenomena which necessitates some alteration of both resonance adjustment and laryngeal function.
True or false: The resonance system is adjusted in some way for every different vowel and every different pitch.
True or false: The resonance system is adjusted in some way for every different vowel and for every different pitch.
What are four possible explanations for the problem area in the male voice?
1. The acoustical impedance caused by the tracheal tree. 2. The area coincides with the first formant. 3. This is the area where vowel modification plays a prominent part in the male voice. 4. This is the area where the transition into falsetto can occur.
In the female voice, the lower break might be explained in two ways:
1. The impedance caused by the tracheal tree. 2. It is the area of the first formant.
If the resonators fail to readjust, the voice becomes ______, and if tension is allowed to accumulate, the voice will eventually fail to function.
With proper alignment of the ____________, the problem areas in the voice can be overcome.
In the male voice, the correct adjustment lies somewhere in the area of ________ and ______________.
cover and vowel modification.
What is cover?
It is proper adjustment, in which the sound is mellow, rich, round, and darkened, appearing in connection with a longer and wider pharyngeal cavity.
The opposite of covered is:
Does a woman’s chest voice have to be brassy?
No. When sung with proper technique, it can be rich and beautiful.
What are some steps a woman can take to improve function in her lower passagio?
Make sure that brassy, open chest voice isn’t being used. Then, do five-note descending scales through the area without too much breath pressure and do octave sirens through the area without letting your voice break.
What vowels are best for working in the lower female passagio?
[i], then [u].
What is the average pitch vibrato rate?
Between five and seven times per second.
What is the average extent of pitch variation in vibrato?
One half step.
What is the rate of intensity in vibrato?
Approximately between two and three decibals.
What are the three types of vibrato-related faults?
1. Faults related to rate. 2. Faults related to extent. 3. Faults related to respiratory energy.
What are the two faults related to vibrato rate?
1. Vibrato is too fast. 2. Vibrato is too slow.
What is the primary cause of vibrato problems?
Imbalance in the support mechanism coupled with tension in the laryngeal mechanism.
What is a tetanic flutter?
It occurs when a muscle is held under tension too long and starts quivering because it is not allowed to relax. Eventually, it develops an uncontrolled tremor, which is the tetanic flutter.
How is a bleat eliminated?
1. Reduce pulling on the abdominals. 2. Try easy humming exercises combined with relaxed support to stabilize the larynx. 3. Sing a smoothly connected series of sounds one “oneoneone” allowing the n of each syllable to carry the tone to the next syllable. 4. Impress on the singer that he must not squeeze his breath.
What is a bleat?
A quiver involving all or part of the laryngeal musculature.
What is the main cause of straight tone?
Physiologically, it is laryngeal tension, but often the real cause is a bad tonal model. Many singers hold out vibrato deliberately.
How is straight tone corrected?
You can ask the singer to make their voice shake artificially or having them alternate between two pitches faster and faster.
What causes a wobble?
Lack of physical exercise and lack of vocal exercise that results in loss of muscle tone. Chest resonance carried up can cause a wobble as well.
How is a wobble best corrected?
Advise them to vocalize for fen or fifteen minutes several times a day. Closed vowels, steady breath, and lots of [u].
These two things will go a long way toward solving most vibrato problems.
Balanced support and released tension.