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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………………..eat. (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.

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