Magic Choral Trick #5 Target Vowels

If you’ve ever wondered how one singer or choir’s singing can be so smooth, and another’s seem jerky or syllabic – here’s the secret.

Full rich sound is carried on vowels, and the cleaner the vowel, the clearer and richer the sound. Much easier said than done until you discover target vowels. (Sorry – even then, it’ll probably make your brain hurt until you’ve made it a habit)

Start off by identifying the main vowel of any syllable in a song in your current repertoire that’s sustained for more than one beat.

Keep in mind that in English, what we refer to as a vowel often has at least two – sometimes three distinctive sounds that we would use when we’re speaking. For example, if we had a long note on the word ‘day’ – the vowel could be broken into three distinct sounds – the long A, followed by the long E, followed by the Roiling ‘Y’ Tongue ‘yuh’.

If we were to sing on the target vowel for this word we’d sing for about 9/10ths of the note on the long A (with the tongue relaxed and forward. I’ll do a better description of this vowel in a later post). In the last 1/10th of the note – sing through the long E, and the roiling thing.

Some other examples:

Light = Lah………………….eat,

And the always hilarious Brah……………… (Bright)

And the appropriate Tuna…………………eat (Tonight)

As you can see, from now on, there is no such thing as a long ‘I’ in your singer’s repertoire.

Know = Noh…………………oo

Home = Hoh………………….oom

Heart = Hah…………………ert

Name = Nay (relaxed tongue)……………………eem

Once you have begun the target vowel, keep scanning the tongue because if you’re actually thinking the English word instead of the target vowel, it’ll want to jump around and perform all the usual gymnastics! Usually if you tell the tongue that you’re scanning…scanning…scanning for tension it’ll behave.

About janetkidd

I've been waving my arms in front of choirs now for more than 35 years - and these are descriptions of all the very best things I've learned. I direct a Women's Competitive Barbershop Chorus, a Men's Competitive Barbershop Chorus, a Med School choir, and for a few weeks each year - Big Choir (about 100 voices) - which performs at an annual fundraising concert. Hope at least some of these Choral Magic Tricks will be useful to you - and thanks for reading. Janet

Posted on November 22, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Dear Janet, I am an inexperienced, little educated volunteer (I was volunteered) church choir director. I was scanning Google for any helps I could find and ran across your posts. Today I put some of your “helps” to use and I want to thank you. I was very encouraged and our choir came through much better than I had expected. Your post will be used on a regular basis by me. thank you again.

  1. Pingback: Magic Choral Trick #353 Whirligig Resonance | betterchoirs

  2. Pingback: Magic Choral Trick #372 – Repeat of #295 Five Steps to Becoming a Better Chorus Singer This Year. | betterchoirs

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