Magic Choral Trick #74 Get the ‘L’ Out of There

Please don’t get me wrong, this consonant can help to make lyrics come alive – especially when we sing through it in words like Love. The gentle sound at the beginning of the word helps to paint the picture of the meaning.

It’s usually when the ‘L’ follows a vowel that’s being held for a couple of beats that problems show up. It seems that as soon as our brain registers an ‘L’ it feels compelled to tell the tongue to start rising up, and the mouth to close – which then begins to block off the sound. Part of our brain knows that it’s not time for the ‘L’ yet – but the other part – the animal, conditioned part thinks that as soon as an ‘L’ is in view, the tongue needs to roil up. A battle begins and the two ways of knowing causes physical tension and tightness in the sound.

This happens in words like All, Feel, Sail…..

Each chorus member has a different idea of when the tongue should rise, and the mouth start to close a bit for the final consonant.

I’ve found that simply mentioning this isn’t usually enough – sorry to say, it needs to be rehearsed. That Pavlovian Conditioning is just too strong. I often ask singers to sing nothing but the vowel until they begin to sing the next word – at which point they can attach the ‘L’ to the front end of that next word.

AwwwwwwwwlNight (Or actually AwwwwwwwwwlNaaaahhhhhhhhEat)

And keep scanning the tongue for tension all the way through the sustained vowel, or Target Vowel.

And by the way – sopranos – if you have a word like this at the top of your range, you can probably get rid of the ‘L’ altogether, and no one will notice anything but your lovely tone quality.


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 January 30, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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