Magic Choral Trick #279 Tall Filling the Vowel
Sad really. Just came to the realization recently that my default thoughts – my sitting around relaxing thoughts are mostly about vowels.
Yesterday on a one and a half hour drive I was so distracted by vowels that I was almost home before I managed to shake myself free and start thinking about the road. Long vowels, short vowels, neutral vowels – and the optimal placements and mouth shapes for all of these.
Knowing that not that many people share this obsession I’m constantly looking for fresh ways to awaken singers (and for that matter, uncaring radio announcers: “Here’s th’unvirement Keneda wather for the maretimes”) to the joys of clean, pure vowels.
When I ask a group to Tall Fill a vowel, they instinctively know that I want them to use lots of air, and to fill that moment of music with as much of the pure vowel as their minds can think.
This works especially well on a sustained note on which you want a swell, and a carryover into the next word or phrase. If you ask them to add the Spinning the Sound gesture, the results are even more spectacular.
Also, if singers are Tall Filling the vowel, the tongue will behave and not be wanting to heave itself into action for the next consonant. It won’t be blocking the flow of sound.
By asking for a Tall Filled vowel in this circumstance, complemented by a Spinning the Sound gesture, you get what you want without having to say:
“Crescendo on the long note!”
“Relax the tongue!”
“Keep the energy going!”
“Don’t breathe there!”
So without asking for a crescendo or swell, or telling them not to drop the energy, and not breathe between the phrases, you’ve given them specific instructions that produce these results.