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Magic Choral Trick #363 The Propellant Dot

One of the trickiest parts of a human to train is the mind. The mind seems to be inherently lazy, and when asked to perform a specific task, is able to come up with a litany of perfectly good reasons why it should not do a particular thing.

And so it is when we ask our minds to rethink the target vowel on the dot of a dotted quarter or half note.

“I’m already singing that vowel – for crying out loud”

“We’re ready for the diphthong resolution, or the singable final consonant – enough already with the target vowel!!”

The reason that I thought up the concept of the Propellant Dot was that I needed a way to explain the concept of musical lift.

One of my choruses had been told by a judge that their singing lines needed more musical flow within even short phrases – and while as a trained musician, I understood what he meant, I had to come up with a way for this to be understood by people who had not been indoctrinated at an early age.

Having the chorus move or direct or dance while singing works for some of the singers, but I’ve found that the majority need much more specific direction.

As I analyzed the way I would instinctively sing a phrase, I realized that I was ‘lifting’ the back ends of almost all my long notes, which created more forward moving musical interest.

So to put this into practice I ask my singers to rethink the target vowel and then the back end of the word on the dot of a dotted note – or even on the last beat of any longer note.

For example in the song If You Love Me, “If the sun should tumble from the sky” would be sung like this:

If the suh…uhn should tumble from the skah……ahee

My choruses now know that when I ask to hear the second syllable of the word ‘love’, that what I really mean is luh…..uhv. But in order for this to happen, they have to consciously and deliberately rethink the target vowel before finishing the word.

Not only does this give a song much more forward motion, but it also means that my singers are very focused on finishing all phrases together.

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