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Diphthongs: Why They're Important in Singing

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Here is a cool video on diphthongs I found just for the fun of it.  AFTER THE JUMP

(You can also watch my own video about vowel modification here)

Why are diphthongs important for singers?

"Ok Robert, why is this important"?Well, when singing English, you will often need a command of certain diphthongs in order to reduce constriction, bridge earlier and articulate vowels when extreme singing in the head voice.

Diphthongs are part of the answer to a very popular question I often get from my clients: "Hey Robert, I can twang in the head voice on the sirens and TVS workouts, but how do I maintain that compression and fold closure when singing songs?!" Yes, once you begin throwing consonants around and lyrics into your singing, maintaining fold closure, overtones and articulation of the text becomes more difficult.

Learning to sing diphthongs

For the most part in my training at TVS, we have to learn to stop singing closed vowels (oo and ee) in the belts. When you sing a closed vowel in the high chest voice and in and around the passagio, you will trigger the constrictors and get chokey. If you are ever singing high in your chest voice and it keeps getting chokey, take a close look at the vowel you're singing. Is it an "ee" or an "oo"? If so, that is likely the reason you are constricting. So how do we fix this? You learn to sing diphthongs, which starts by understanding the open vowel cousin (relationship) to the closed vowels that are choking you on the high chest voice notes.

Singing diphthongs: How does it work?

Let's take a quick look at it:

  • "ee" - open vowel cousin = "A"
  • "oo" - open vowel cousin = "Ah"

In the belts and around the passagio:

  • Sing an "ee" vowel as an "A-ee".
  • Sing a "oo" vowel as an "Ah-oo". 

Hope this helps. I look forward to hearing all of your input on this, especially from our TMV vowel guru, Maestro Fraser.

This essay first published March 15, 2010 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008.

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