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Schwa Phonetics

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Matt
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so 'schwa' is the term, I recently learned, for the neutral vowel sound in the middle of the mouth. Its supposed to be the basic vowel sound for all vowels, so I understand, and sounds like the 'errr' in 'the' (written like an upside down 'e').

2 questions:

1) Since this is sometimes called 'neutral' in phonetics, is this related to neutral in CVT?

2) Does this mean its a healthy vowel for most anywhere in your register?

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so 'schwa' is the term, I recently learned, for the neutral vowel sound in the middle of the mouth. Its supposed to be the basic vowel sound for all vowels, so I understand, and sounds like the 'errr' in 'the' (written like an upside down 'e').

2 questions:

1) Since this is sometimes called 'neutral' in phonetics, is this related to neutral in CVT?

2) Does this mean its a healthy vowel for most anywhere in your register?

Hi, Matt! 4 words: Schwa is your friend :-) Its called the neutral vowel because its the 'straight tube' vowel, the one with the resonances evenly spaced, and (supposedly, not actually) in the same positions as they would be if the vocal tract had the same diameter all the way from the vocal bands to the lips. The schwa in actual singing is close, but not quite that same thing. We are not built that way.

That said, its an excellent vowel for passaggio and upper voice use. The almost-equal spacing of the resonances will make certain notes ring in the rafters. Its many times a workable replacement for several main-sequence vowels as well.

To your specific questions, its not about CVT 'neutral'. Its 'neutrality' way predates CVT. You can sing a schwa in overdrive :-), if you know what notes to use it on. But, for your 2) question, because of the resonance spacing, its a pretty good vowel to master, especially because of its use (in English) as an 'R' substitute in words like, er, "word", "heard", 'demur', "fur', 'blur'...and all the unaccented syllables in the language that end in 'er'. Use of schwa is essential for singing English (Brit, Aussie, or US) elegantly.

I hope this helps.

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