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kickingtone

Is M a vowel?

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M

It can be held: "mmmmmmmmmmmmmm"

It has a pitch. You can sing "mmmm" in a scale or siren.

So is it pretty much both a vowel and a consonant, in terms of behaviour (although we may not technically call it one). It may not be an open vowel, but it sure acts like a vowel.

L, M, N, R?, V, Z seem to have this property.

Sibilants like S and F can be held, but they do not really have a well-defined pitch.

My current big project is vowels (I've graduated from basics to style, courtesy of kickingtone akadummy :bang:).

While studying phrases in various songs, I have found that Ms (particularly) have to be controlled in the same way as vowels, otherwise they can create unwanted fluctuations in brightness, and even pitch. It can be instantaneous if the M is just an onset, yet noticeable enough to affect the overall delivery and mood.

I am now playing around with truncating my Ms so that they stay consonants when I want them to be. Any one else had to do this?.

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Some time ago, M's ( and sometimes N's too ) on my G#4-A4 area, made me change my resonance to a lot more nasal approach and raise my larynx, which made my folds thin out and splat a bit the vowels, thus making the transition in that zone more difficult, and the timbre inconsistent with A#4+ 
So something that has helped me a lot, was exercising replacing M's and N's by B's and D's, first completely, to make sure I stayed anchored low, and then going back to the pure consonants little by little, to find balance and keep the coordination stable and not chaotic, which made a lot of songs veery hard to sing.

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M, n and ng as in "Hum", "hun" and "hung" are called nasal consonants, which are a type of semi-occluded phonations. As ronws said, they are great for resonant tracking, which is to get a feel for the resonance moving through the resonant path of throat, mouth and head. See the pharynx below for a depiction of the resonance path. A little off topic, but notice how the resonance is in a "C" path. Try to visualize this when singing or practicing instead of thinking of high and low notes. It can help you "see" and "feel" the notes in these resonance areas.

CDR713970.jpg

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1 hour ago, The Future Vocalist said:

Contestant-I'd like to buy a vowel an M

Game Show Host-What have you been drinking son

:4:

Contestant-I'd like to buy a soft consonant please. :D

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2 hours ago, Xamedhi said:

Some time ago, M's ( and sometimes N's too ) on my G#4-A4 area, made me change my resonance to a lot more nasal approach and raise my larynx, which made my folds thin out and splat a bit the vowels, thus making the transition in that zone more difficult, and the timbre inconsistent with A#4+ 
So something that has helped me a lot, was exercising replacing M's and N's by B's and D's, first completely, to make sure I stayed anchored low, and then going back to the pure consonants little by little, to find balance and keep the coordination stable and not chaotic, which made a lot of songs veery hard to sing.

Maybe I am anchored too low? It seems to me I need to especially practice MMM and similar. There is like some resistance in my phonic apparatus while doing it and I guess I should get it clean. So probably need to be more nasal.

 

kickingtone, resistance = consonant (a possible way to look at it?)

I don't think F is a sibilant. Ah I notice now you've put a ? after the R. I was thinking we can do with R the same as with G, H, D, T and probably any consonant? :) 

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1 hour ago, Jabroni said:

M, n and ng as in "Hum", "hun" and "hung" are called nasal consonants, which are a type of semi-occluded phonations. As ronws said, they are great for resonant tracking, which is to get a feel for the resonance moving through the resonant path of throat, mouth and head.

I can do a very chesty "mmmmmmmm"....very chesty.

Singing is different to speaking.

When we speak, mm is a consonant sound, in the English language.

(If you look at African and Asian languages for example, m and n can be vowel like, and with chest resonance, e.g Names like Mbeki, or Ng.)

When we sing I think we have more vowels, partly because we hold notes and use legato. However, we seem to have decided to stick with the speech level designations??

Bottom line is, if they m starts behaving like a vowel, because of the way we use it, we have to treat it like a vowel, and not like a speech level consonant.

 

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19 minutes ago, Rosa said:

kickingtone, resistance = consonant (a possible way to look at it?)

I don't think F is a sibilant. Ah I notice now you've put a ? after the R. I was thinking we can do with R the same as with G, H, D, T and probably any consonant? :) 

Excellent points Rosa. That really clarifies things.

What we have, then, is different levels of resistance. If I do a siren in "mmmm" (not muh) I have to use the techniques necessary for a vowel siren, whatever category we put mmmm in, even thought there is some resistance. It is not as obstructive as a 't', for example.

(The Spanish R, with the front of the tongue, is a thing of wonder! I was listening to some Spanish tourists to the UK, but I don't know which part of Spain, except that they were speak incredibly fast so that every sentence sounded like one long word. And those Spanish R's were rolling like mad. You could probably do a siren on one of those, as well, I guess.)

 

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True! I had not tried sounding the strong RRR but just the weak one. It is easier to roll the strong one. Well, how do you do Tongue Trills??? I do it with that Strong R.

When an English person says my name, I mostly hear what translates as "bear (female)" in Spanish (Osa). :D 

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5 hours ago, ronws said:

m and n are soft consonants. But they are also good for resonant tracking.

To be exact Ron,.. these consonants are known as "nasals" and they are the ONLY consonants that can give you resonant tracking. If you are not buzzing on a nasal consonant, it isn't resonant tracking. Resonant tracking HAS to be on a nasal consonant.

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"Open vowels" are vowels in which the position of the tongue is low (they are also called low vowels). 

By definition a vowel is sound produced without pressure build up on the upper vocal tract and with an open oral airway, the main articulator in this case is the tongue.

 

M is a consonant because there is a constriction (lips) and pressure build up with partial constriction of the vocal tract. It is indeed a voiced consonant, but it is not a vowel. During the articulation of words, it causes a "pause" on the production of vowels, which is also what the consonants are there for.

It is also totally possible to position the tongue to produce a vowel and still emit the consonant. This is something that is exploited on voice training, quite a lot actually.

M is useful and problematic at the same time because of this freedom of positioning. 

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4 hours ago, Xamedhi said:

made me change my resonance to a lot more nasal approach and raise my larynx, which made my folds thin out and splat a bit the vowels

Yes, this might happen... however, you don't want to stop "tracking" on nasals because of this. That would be a bad decision to flat out, walk away from nasal tracking altogether because of an issue that has nothing to do with the nasals. "X"... When tracking on nasals,... as you approach the vocal bridge and into the head voice, SOB the larynx. Shift into the physical mode, SOB... which lowers the larynx AND anchors it through the passaggio. It makes resonant tracking on nasals a LOT MORE STABLE and effective.

4 hours ago, Xamedhi said:

So something that has helped me a lot, was exercising replacing M's and N's by B's and D's, first completely, to make sure I stayed anchored low, and then going back to the pure consonants little by little, to find balance and keep the coordination stable and not chaotic, which made a lot of songs veery hard to sing.

Yes. This is actually another way to get the larynx down. When you use plosive consonants, /b/, /d/, /p/, etc... you are using what we call in TVS a Dampen & Release Onset. D&R onsets are characterized, among other things... , but plosives. If the workout or lyric starts with a plosive, then it HAS to be a D&R onset. Now then,... when you know what the benefits are of the D&R onset, you can then capitalize on it in your training and singing. 

The D&R onset helps to ... dampen or lower the larynx!  And when the larynx is lowered (either with sob mode or with the more aggressive larynx dampening approach), it does the following.

1). Amplifies warmer harmonics making the sound color more warm, bluesy and generally speaking... just better by most people's opinion.

2). Helps with narrowing through the bridge and into the head voice because dampening seems to encourage the mid narrowed curbing vowel, /ou/ ("would")... which is GREAT for narrowing.

3). Larynx dampening anchors the musculature... creates leverage which gives you more stability through the passaggio and into the head voice.. PRECISELY your observation "X".. good call.

 

 

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5 hours ago, kickingtone said:

M

It can be held: "mmmmmmmmmmmmmm"

It has a pitch. You can sing "mmmm" in a scale or siren.

So is it pretty much both a vowel and a consonant, in terms of behaviour (although we may not technically call it one). It may not be an open vowel, but it sure acts like a vowel.

L, M, N, R?, V, Z seem to have this property.

Sibilants like S and F can be held, but they do not really have a well-defined pitch.

My current big project is vowels (I've graduated from basics to style, courtesy of kickingtone akadummy :bang:).

While studying phrases in various songs, I have found that Ms (particularly) have to be controlled in the same way as vowels, otherwise they can create unwanted fluctuations in brightness, and even pitch. It can be instantaneous if the M is just an onset, yet noticeable enough to affect the overall delivery and mood.

I am now playing around with truncating my Ms so that they stay consonants when I want them to be. Any one else had to do this?.

No, /m/ is not a vowel. It is a nasal consonant and it is very important to vocal training and singing.

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I have accepted in my reply to Rosa that, by definition, 'M' is not a "vowel".

I guess we can all settle on it being a "nasal consonant"?

ok, the following points remain.

1. M can be an onset to a vowel, or, unlike other types of consonant, it can be sustained in its own right.

2. M can have a pitch. Even if it is an onset to a vowel, it can have a pitch different from the pitch of the vowel.

So, as we approach an M in singing, we have to consider its pitch (and to some extent the depth), just as we have to consider the pitch of a vowel.

 

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Its no different than any other voiced sound. Even voiced stops like B, G, D have pitch (but of course can not be sustained). There are other partial constrictions like V, Z, N, NG that can be sustained.

 

During singing usually if you solve the problem on the vowel the consonants, being easier to produce due to the occlusion and being much shorter in duration, present no challenge. If there is indeed a problem, then yes it needs to be addressed. But the same can happen even on unvoiced consonants... So I have no idea what you have in mind.

People DO train humming with several different positions as a way to help solving vowels.

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49 minutes ago, Felipe Carvalho said:

Its no different than any other voiced sound. Even voiced stops like B, G, D have pitch (but of course can not be sustained). There are other partial constrictions like V, Z, N, NG that can be sustained.

I've already mentioned other such consonants in the OP.

50 minutes ago, Felipe Carvalho said:

During singing usually if you solve the problem on the vowel the consonants, being easier to produce due to the occlusion and being much shorter in duration, present no challenge. If there is indeed a problem, then yes it needs to be addressed. But the same can happen even on unvoiced consonants... So I have no idea what you have in mind.

People DO train humming with several different positions as a way to help solving vowels.

It is not the challenge of hitting the note that is the issue.

The issue for me is that my default M has a significantly dark sound -- a lot of deep chest resonance for some pitches. That can add character, and a bit of percussive rhythm in the right situation. In other situations, it is not appropriate. I have to consider the M in its own right, rather than hope it sorts itself out.

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43 minutes ago, kickingtone said:

I've already mentioned other such consonants in the OP.

It is not the challenge of hitting the note that is the issue.

The issue for me is that my default M has a significantly dark sound -- a lot of deep chest resonance for some pitches. That can add character, and a bit of percussive rhythm in the right situation. In other situations, it is not appropriate. I have to consider the M in its own right, rather than hope it sorts itself out.

That is the good thing about M  the underlying vowel or throat shape can be whatever you need. It is a good thing to think about the underlying vowel in any consonant. Sing on the vowel. It also helps when ending a word on a consonant, instead of just dropping the note "Think" of continuing the word on a vowel.

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17 hours ago, Rosa said:

True! I had not tried sounding the strong RRR but just the weak one. It is easier to roll the strong one. Well, how do you do Tongue Trills??? I do it with that Strong R.

I can't do tongue trills properly, lol. I find it easier to roll the back of the tongue.

17 hours ago, Rosa said:

When an English person says my name, I mostly hear what translates as "bear (female)" in Spanish (Osa). :D 

I hope you forgive us!

The English probably have the laziest accents on Earth. Just saying a strong R gives us cramp in the tip of our tongue. And our lazy vowels are really bad for singing. Fortunately, I get my vowel base more from my African heritage.

Whenever the Americans want to cast a camp character in a sitcom, they seem to like to choose someone with an exaggerated English accent. So they must think we have really "affected" accents.

Hey! While typing this, I just figured out how to do a tongue trill. The middle of the tongue has to roll, as well as the tip! I had been trying to roll just the tip! That is what my Spanish friends had told me!

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12 hours ago, MDEW said:

That is the good thing about M  the underlying vowel or throat shape can be whatever you need. It is a good thing to think about the underlying vowel in any consonant. Sing on the vowel. It also helps when ending a word on a consonant, instead of just dropping the note "Think" of continuing the word on a vowel.

This is really useful, considering M as a nasal consonant with an underlying vowel.

I have to think consciously about the underlying vowel, because my default M tends to use just one particular underlying vowel, which is like a dark AH. When singing, I have to learn to colour the M as necessary, either to stand out or to blend in with the ensuing vowel.

I had not really thought about singing an M with an underlying EH, for example.

Up until now, if I parted my lips while singing mmmmmmmmm, trying to keep everything else the same, it always became a dark ahhhhhhhhhh.

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1 hour ago, kickingtone said:

That is what my Spanish friends had told me!

Happy to hear you are surrounded by helpful Spanish people there. :) 

I was exaggerating a bit with the "Osa" thing. :D Some English speakers manage to have a great accent and pronunciation in the whole Spanish language. It's as hard for us to pronounce English well; simply very different pronunciations in both languages. Their vowels are very difficult with so many of them! And the many S too.

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20 hours ago, Rosa said:

True! I had not tried sounding the strong RRR but just the weak one. It is easier to roll the strong one. Well, how do you do Tongue Trills??? I do it with that Strong R.

When an English person says my name, I mostly hear what translates as "bear (female)" in Spanish (Osa). :D

It is not just vowels that give us different accents or give us problems when singing. The tongue trill I do with a DDDDD sound. I let the tip of my tongue touch the hard palate and let the tongue flutter. (Tongue trill is easier for me in high range)( Lip Bubbles in the low). The R sound is made by the top teeth slightly touching the bottom lip.  I would have no clue how to make a rolled R sound Although I had a friend from Peru and she was trying to get other friends of mine to make the rolled RR. I made the sound but not like she was showing us. R,L W, S seems to give me the most problems.

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20 hours ago, MDEW said:

The R sound is made by the top teeth slightly touching the bottom lip. 

I've been checking how I do the R, and could only think of "lifting the tongue in the middle of the mouth". Here is a very good explanation:

 

2
Know the parts of the mouth involved in producing the "r" sound. There are three major parts of the mouth that have to constrict and work together to properly produce an "r" sound, and these include:
  • The lips: To understand how the lips function when saying the "r" sound, ask someone who can pronounce it properly to say the word "rabbit." What does their mouth do when they say the "r" part of the word? If they're forming it correctly, their mouth makes a small circle. The rounded lips are the first component of a proper "r" pronunciation.[4]
  • The tongue: If you are unable to make the "r" sound, you may have no idea what a tongue should be doing while properly pronouncing the "r." In fact, the tongue makes a small mound or hump in the mouth, and sound waves travel over that mound to properly execute the sound.[5]
  • The pharynx: The pharynx is another word for the throat, and the part of the pharynx that is associated with the "r" sound is at the very top of the throat. In order to make the "r" sound, the pharynx has to constrict or tighten.

http://www.wikihow.com/Pronounce-R's

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Thanks Rosa, I never thought about the hump in the tongue for R sound. Having my top teeth touch the bottom lip pretty much puts the other parts into position without me noticing them. A certain type of Genre is nown by there singers as using a YARL which is chacterized by having a hump in the tongue with the tip of the tongue lifted and pulled into the body of the tongue a little, this also produces some kind of inherent r sound.

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