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The Ah vowel

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jonpall
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Just a couple of days ago I started having luck with singing the Ah vowel (as in "father") in place of the Oh vowel (as in "so") on notes up to about A4. There are some vocal coaches, Ken Tamplin being one of them who will tell you that all vowels stem from Ah. Just so that you know, I don't have much knowledge of Ken's system.

This kind of contradicts ideas from other vocal schools, f.ex. "Speech level singing" and "Complete vocal technique", which will tell you that for a "mixed voice" you should replace Ah with Uh (as in "hungry").

It seems that vocal coaches have split opinions on the Ah vowels. There are some who say that "the secret to singing is never sing Ah".

I can give you links if you want: http://www.sci.brooklyn.cuny.edu/~jones/Shirlee/carrying_power.html and http://www.punbb-hosting.com/forums/themodernvocalist/viewtopic.php?id=1231&p=1.

Many vocal schools tell you that in order to travel through the passagio on an Ah vowel, you should modify towards Uh, keep the volume at medium and add a slight "cry" sound. And some of those people would tell you that it's almost impossible to put a cry on an Ah vowel on an A4 pitch. They'd say that if you tried, you'd lose the cry.

Yet, there are guys on this forum that are suggesting to use the Ah vowel on an A4 pitch, as an example. (My guess is that if you'd listened carefully to someone do that, the cry sound would be less, but I'm not sure how important that is.)

(You guys can easily duck this question and just say "don't think about it". Personally I think that singers should have a balance between not thinking and actually thinking. In my opinion, this forum is a lot about the "thinking" part, so it might give a slightly skewed picture of how many of us really think about singing on a daily basis. I, for example, am not really thinking much about technique at all when I play live with my band or just sing for fun. I do it when I'm working on my technique or writing on this forum.)

It would be cool to hear someone comment on this because I feel that many people are speaking in different languages about this thing and people are confused. I'm most certainly not the only one.

Keep on singing!

jonpall.

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Related to this, here's Ken teaching how to modify Ah as it goes up with pitch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZGaxscWLbc

With all respect to Ken as a great singer and teacher, I just can't understand why he would modify Ah to Oh. Anyone know why he's suggesting that?

To be precise, he's going from Ah as in "father" to Oh as in "dog", so it's not the CVT Oh but more like this vowel here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-mid_back_rounded_vowel

In order to do that, he'll have to move his tongue backwards into his throat, and slightly up as well, but in that "tongue" thread a few days ago, people were suggesting to keep the tongue forwards and down at all times (or most of the time). Finally for the very top notes, Ken wants to you modify again by keeping the tongue back and moving the back of the tongue even more upwards towards "look" and then "who", which would be this vowel: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Close_back_rounded_vowel. That moves the tongue as far back and upwards as possible, which contradicts what Alexander said in the tongue thread. :)

Anyone want to clarify this?

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no clue for the Ah vowel. honestly, i think there's no good or bad way to modify vowels. it all depends on your own voice, the more i read about all the technical posts the more i think everybody is right and wrong.

I'm a guitar coach, and all this discussions reminds me excatly the ones i can have with my collegues..., you know thinks like, "no you have to do that fingering" or "no, you have to think modal on those chords" etc....

Everybody's right from a point of view, and so everybody's wrong too.

Jonpall, you have now the skills to just listen carefully to your voice, your body and above all find your own path, technically ans styllistically!!!!

All the coaches, and i mean ALL, tend to make you sound like they think it should sound, period.

Last week i was concerned about the "ng" sound, where do you put your tongue, backward, forward, all the position affects the tone of the voice. I decided to just do it the way it feels great and strainless for me. And i'm sure it's gonna be great ;-).

Here's my 2 cents ;-)

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Teaching can be a very personal thing, especially on the journey through this F4, G4, A4 b4 arena. and yes, is one arena where differing schools tackle it very differently, and possibly makes a difference between a bought program and a tutor.

One post from Videohere in the "suggest to improve" link;

jonpall, if i were doing that song on the "come" i'd sing at as "c-ah-m." yawn, open the throat, emphasizing the "ah" and let it bounce off the palate supported and anchored well.. get off the "c" quickly and on to the "ah" hit the "m" at the very end. all the emphasis would be on the "ah."for my voice it suits me well. hope i've helped...

My response (same link);

What comes out here is the old .. Vowel, We 'may' disagree on which vowel, but the concept is the same.

Then later in the post I state;

if you look at vowel chart of ipa [o] you can see how far the throat is back, so if you were to sing "come" as c [o] me, then the throat is back and constricting. With the slur from the the previous I (which you maybe singing as an I, rather than a vowel [a]).

If you were to change the vowel to say or as videohere says [a], the tonge is in a different position and you may get a "clearer" tone.

...which is what you actually say at this point in this link (the Ah Vowel)...;

This kind of contradicts ideas from other vocal schools, KT "Speech level singing" and "Complete vocal technique", which will tell you that for a "mixed voice" you should replace Ah with Uh (as in "hungry").

.. So already we have differing people say different things, but I refer lower to a personal thing for you, for Videohere - Ah works :) .

...

I'll mention more lower.....

...

I need to read and understand the reasoning behind some of the "dopey", "cry" and "touch your toes and ... act like you are Mexican waving" whilst vocalising techniques (and yes there are some schools teaching an arm wave technique whilst sirening, especially in theatre ... , because dopey to me does not work and creates tensions to me in my mouth, nose,throat and I loose clarity of tone, and the cry makes me want to yawn. I have never used these - but ... they may help some people.

..

The 1st link on your 1st post states;

In general, the higher the pitches one must sing the less useful a real [a] is

The rest of the 1st link however states this;

Just modify one type of vowel with the same type although different, i.e., change an that is not working to an [backwards 3] or [œ], an or [Y], an [e] or [ø], not to a vowel from another series.

and this is one key - what works for you ?

So of the "traditionalists" may look at the Chromatic Vowel chart (Berton Coffin), where ..

we could modify [a] "Father", to [ae] "bat" on A4;

we could modify [backwards 3] Americal "let" to [ae] "bat"

we could modify [upside down v] "up" to neutral schwa

we could modify [a] to [ae] on F# and then back to [a] on A4

Reid/Millers Work;

We could work on pure vowel, and use pitch, intensity and vowel patterns. We could work on [m], G4 B4 D5 E5, change to [a] E5 D5 B4 G4, repeat with change to [e] on the E5 D5 B4 G4 patern.

I may have you singing 6/8 c4 e4 g4 c5 e5 g5 f5 d5 b4 g4 f4 d5, then same exercise on [e], then repeat on .

...

One thing Vocalwisdom put in another link is a list where supprt and "breath management"... is mentioned.

and ... personally I think this is one area where a tutor has an advantage over a program. A tutor hears the issue and can assist, be it tenseness, be it breathing, be it onset, be it modding a vowel. A program cannot do this, hence questions are asked on forums (and I think it's a valid way to ask other peoples experience on what works for them).

...

That said - I think this will spark a good debate as this forum seems to have many differeing "schools", but not only schools - but also tutors as well as students who have tutors.

...

It would also be useful to have 2 CVT'ers on here, one who is program and library ONLY, and one with a tutor - so we can compare and contrast their ideas as well and what a personal tutor changes "slightly" in CVT concepts for each "individual" student.

Iwant to add too based on Joshual's post lower than this, is also to have 2 Lunte's (one program and one lessoned), as well as 2 KT's (again one program only and one tutored)

...

Whilst writing this I saw joshual post and his analogy on guitar fingering, and it's an excellent point - as there are many, many ways to finger the same note...

I would disagee with this point;

All the coaches, and i mean ALL, tend to make you sound like they think it should sound, period.

I would disagree here as (as per the multitude of exercises above), it's picking the one that gives the STUDENT the free voice.

... Some good debate going to come from this one - look forward to hearing all opinions

Stew.

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yep, agree with your sentence "I would disagree here as (as per the multitude of exercises above), it's picking the one that gives the STUDENT the free voice." But the results and advices will be a lot different (on the tone side ans so the results) if you have let's say a classical teacher or a rock coach... that's what i wanted to say. If we just look here in the forum we have really great and known coach as Rob Lunte or Ken Tamplin, they both teach you to free the voice, but the results are really differents tonewise ;-).

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At 6:35 in the Ken Tamplin video above, he does an arpeggio on Ah but at the very top he modifies it to u or oo. To me it sounds like he prefers a resonant sound over singing understandable words, because the top note a bit too far from Ah for my taste (currently). It may be resonant but I guess some people would prefer slighty less resonance and, as a gain instead be able to understand the words better? F.ex. if he were going to sing "hey man" on a very high note, it'd sound like "hey moon". Again, no shot at Ken at all. What do I know, anyway?

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Hi,

at 6:35 - he D4, 1st 3rd, 5th Octave jump to D5 ... either that or my piano is out of tune :o

I refer to the chromatic chart. it shows;

[a] (or American a), mods to [oe (alilda'd)] "parfum, or Jeun" at D5 ... AS keeping the [a] vocal tract formation interferes with vocal chord vibration, thus sing vowel on diagonal vowel. He could have chose (according to the chart - not my thoughts!), Umlaut [i ] "Hutte"

I'm interested in joshual's thoughts, as KT, RL, SS, SLS, CVT .. etc all have CD/DVD/books and I was thinking on the way to shops ... the following;

The population follows the standard bell curve, thus we have in the middle percentile a huge amount of people - where the standard book / dvd / CD .. way of doing things will suffice. This also applies to the starting out singer, where working on library vowels, CD / DVD vowels is sufficient to get them singing (kareoke - or in some peoples cases (especially on this forum), even better :) )

However, there are the singers that eventually grow out from the curve and thus need coaching, in order to achieve greather things.

This would also account for the people whom say, well "program A was cr$p because it didn't suite me", because they sit outside the 50th percentile.

Thoughts ?

Joshual, though ... "they both teach you to free the voice, but the results are really differents tonewise" ... Isn't that also the choice of the student, as .. they themselves have made a conscious thought to sing, rock, blues, R&B, classical .. and thus they choose a tutor accordingly. I actually agree with you .. as teaching one soprano to sing Evanescence songs is quite easy - for her to sing pink songs would be a bit .. interesting.

Thoughts welcome.

Stew

Edited later as the original post you mention Ah on this transitional point of A4 ... on KT's vid on the 1st 3rd, 5th, octave jump 6:35 - Note the 5th note is an A4, thus .. he is still "ah'ing" it.

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jonpall, you seek the truth my brother, and i applaud you for it. but i'm afraid there are several.

this morning, i was reading this tiny little pamphlet that came with my $6 american idol ultimate voice coach kit which is ron anderson's and gary catona's system...i figured for $6, i'd get a piece of their minds. after all anderson did a good job with cornell.

gary is really big, i'm mean big on this idea of building muscles to sing better, doesn't feel support is anything to worry about, just building muscles. ( i happen to agree, at least for me.)

but this one comment he made (about exercising, not actual singing) is exactly what i was always trying to convey, but didn't have the right words he said (quote):

"remember to form all your voice building vowels in the back of your throat (the "yawn" position). in fact, vocalize as though the back of throat is actually your mouth! the more your voice builds, the easier it is to make the sounds come from the back of the throat." never try to get a good vowel sound or tone by sacrificing your back-of-the-throat position.

i really got results when i started practising this way. the "ah" gets this open, metallic sound to it.

man, i wish you could read this pamplet. you (and several others) would be shocked at what he says.

now regarding tamplin, in stage 1 he teaches how the "ah" goes to an "oh" but it's so very subtle as to be hardly noticible but you feel this release this letting go feeling that has to be felt to be believed.

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Vowels are not a "one size fits all" situation. What you are trying to do is to break the tracking of your throat area resonance to the wrong harmonic. This acoustic alignment generally results in straining, shouting, or pulled chest voice. They are different vowel strategies for doing this, some which raise the larynx, others lower - some narrow the mouth, others widen.

Another thing to remember about vowels is they are not single units, but are rather a combination of two resonances, the throat area (providing the first formant) blending with the mouth (second formant). You mix and match changing resonant spaces within these two areas to create different vowels (or shades of the same vowel). What is tricky with what Ken is doing is that he is going more to an "oh" vowel at the larynx, but keeping the mouth towards the "ah" condition. That is how he is able to break away from the chest resonance and smoothly move into his upper registers, while keeping a general "ah" sound to the listener.

Try this: keep an "ah" position in the mouth while gradually moving to the "uh" "oh" and "oo" positions at the larynx. Then try this on an ascending scale. Once you feel yourself working these resonance chambers independently, you can better zero in on tone color and preferred resonance, as well as smoother register transitions.

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What you are trying to do is to break the tracking of your throat area resonance to the wrong harmonic. This acoustic alignment generally results in straining, shouting, or pulled chest voice.

hi john, was this meant to help me or jonpall?

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What is tricky with what Ken is doing is that he is going more to an "oh" vowel at the larynx, but keeping the mouth towards the "ah" condition. That is how he is able to break away from the chest resonance and smoothly move into his upper registers, while keeping a general "ah" sound to the listener.

Try this: keep an "ah" position in the mouth while gradually moving to the "uh" "oh" and "oo" positions at the larynx. Then try this on an ascending scale. Once you feel yourself working these resonance chambers independently, you can better zero in on tone color and preferred resonance, as well as smoother register transitions.

I tried this - doing oh with the mouth in the ah position - and now it works better. Thanks!

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this one comment he made (about exercising, not actual singing) is exactly what i was always trying to convey, but didn't have the right words he said (quote):

"remember to form all your voice building vowels in the back of your throat (the "yawn" position). in fact, vocalize as though the back of throat is actually your mouth! the more your voice builds, the easier it is to make the sounds come from the back of the throat." never try to get a good vowel sound or tone by sacrificing your back-of-the-throat position.

i really got results when i started practising this way. the "ah" gets this open, metallic sound to it.

man, i wish you could read this pamplet. you (and several others) would be shocked at what he says.

This is very similar to what I learned a long time from Mark Baxter's book and I've gone back to it many times, thinking it might work the best for me personally. Thanks for sharing. I do know that there is more than one truth to this stuff. Also, the words of Bruce Lee kind of fits this discussion, although it comes from the world of martial arts: "Before I learned Kung Fu, a punch was just a punch. After having studied it for a while, a punch was no longer a punch. Finally, when I mastered the art, a punch is just a punch". Often you have to learn the details of things in order to be ABLE to forget yourself in the moment and not think about the details.

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This is very similar to what I learned a long time from Mark Baxter's book and I've gone back to it many times, thinking it might work the best for me personally. Thanks for sharing. I do know that there is more than one truth to this stuff. Also, the words of Bruce Lee kind of fits this discussion, although it comes from the world of martial arts: "Before I learned Kung Fu, a punch was just a punch. After having studied it for a while, a punch was no longer a punch. Finally, when I mastered the art, a punch is just a punch". Often you have to learn the details of things in order to be ABLE to forget yourself in the moment and not think about the details.

i don't know man, sometimes you can just over engineer this stuff....just thinking...the average song has over 100 words and much more syllables...there's plenty of chance for minor (and your's are minor, i.m.h.o.) errors.....lol!!!

like i said the more i exercise the more placement oriented and experimental it gets.

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i don't know man, sometimes you can just over engineer this stuff....just thinking...the average song has over 100 words and much more syllables...there's plenty of chance for minor (and your's are minor, i.m.h.o.) errors.....lol!!!

like i said the more i exercise the more placement oriented and experimental it gets.

lol, you've over engineered quite a bit yourself Bob over the past few years on this forum ;) . Like I've been trying to say, I think it's a process that many singers go through and right now I'm in the process of figuring this stuff out. It sounds like you've already gone through most of that process yourself and are telling me not to dwell in it for too long. I hear you and I agree.

But I disagree with my "errors" in my takes on those non-raspy tenor songs like Open arms are "minor" errors. I think I'm still too THIN sounding and not full enough. Some would say too nasal. But thanks to you guys, now I have a good idea how to fix it. For one, I was probably singing ng too much and not enough Ahs. In theory, that should reduce nasality. If it doesn't work, well, shit, it's back to the drawing board. I'm hoping for the best.

I also agree with raphaels on his last post (hmmm, which seems to have disappeared??). You can be very poetic and say "Man, just sing from your heart like there is no tomorrow. Let the gust of air from your beautiful instrument create waves of pure enlightment in the soul of listener, like a butterfly travelling across the autumn sky". Then you'd get a certain group of people doing a "slow clap" and say "That was beautiful. THAT'S what I'm talking about. Just don't worry about it, dude and just sing. It's really not more complicated than that, grasshopper". Then we'd have no need for vocal instructors. Only poets. And everyone could easily sing just by reading that line a few times. I'm not saying that YOU are like that poet, Bob, but I've heard other people get close to something like that :)

Sorry for the rant. I hope that didn't sound too rude or anything because it wasn't my intention. Bob, why don't you get Windows Live Messenger so we could chat more: http://windows-live-messenger.en.softonic.com/ ? If you want to, that is. Some of us here are already friends on this application. And this goes for anyone else on this forum, by the way.

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What is tricky with what Ken is doing is that he is going more to an "oh" vowel at the larynx, but keeping the mouth towards the "ah" condition. That is how he is able to break away from the chest resonance and smoothly move into his upper registers, while keeping a general "ah" sound to the listener.

Having been trained on Ken's approach this makes sense. And it is what I feel when I sing Ken's vowel modifications. I never knew about the 1st formant being formed in the back. I guess this is why, with Ken's vowel mods, we're able to disguise the vowel with the front of our mouth, while the back is tracking properly with the fundamental.?

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lol, you've over engineered quite a bit yourself Bob over the past few years on this forum ;) . Like I've been trying to say, I think it's a process that many singers go through and right now I'm in the process of figuring this stuff out. It sounds like you've already gone through most of that process yourself and are telling me not to dwell in it for too long. I hear you and I agree.

But I disagree with my "errors" in my takes on those non-raspy tenor songs like Open arms are "minor" errors. I think I'm still too THIN sounding and not full enough. Some would say too nasal. But thanks to you guys, now I have a good idea how to fix it. For one, I was probably singing ng too much and not enough Ahs. In theory, that should reduce nasality. If it doesn't work, well, shit, it's back to the drawing board. I'm hoping for the best.

I also agree with raphaels on his last post (hmmm, which seems to have disappeared??). You can be very poetic and say "Man, just sing from your heart like there is no tomorrow. Let the gust of air from your beautiful instrument create waves of pure enlightment in the soul of listener, like a butterfly travelling across the autumn sky". Then you'd get a certain group of people doing a "slow clap" and say "That was beautiful. THAT'S what I'm talking about. Just don't worry about it, dude and just sing. It's really not more complicated than that, grasshopper". Then we'd have no need for vocal instructors. Only poets. And everyone could easily sing just by reading that line a few times. I'm not saying that YOU are like that poet, Bob, but I've heard other people get close to something like that :)

Sorry for the rant. I hope that didn't sound too rude or anything because it wasn't my intention. Bob, why don't you get Windows Live Messenger so we could chat more: http://windows-live-messenger.en.softonic.com/ ? If you want to, that is. Some of us here are already friends on this application. And this goes for anyone else on this forum, by the way.

jonpall, free free to call me or email me anytime...can't do windows messenger (personal reasons) videohere@earthlink.net/914-963-8437

i'd enjoy "talking shop" with any of you folks.

now as far as the remark i made, (over enginering) it wasn't directed at you...i meant all of us. you're right, i obsess on this stuff too...lol!!! i just happen to think you're a lot better than you think you are. ya gotta be patient with this stuff.

question: how long have you been exercising the voice?

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question: how long have you been exercising the voice?

Two years or so. No vocal coach, ever, just instructionals. And I was always looking for ways to sing with rasp on high notes, but now that I can do some of that I'd like to sing in the tenor range with a very full, but clean voice, too, when I want to.

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Two years or so. No vocal coach, ever, just instructionals. And I was always looking for ways to sing with rasp on high notes, but now that I can do some of that I'd like to sing in the tenor range with a very full, but clean voice, too, when I want to.

and you will! i know you will, because you're passionate about what you do, and you're one of the most hard-working guys on the forum. it takes one to know one...lol!!!

i remember back to my first attempt at "urgent" (pre-exercising days when the song first came out in the 80's) i said to myself... jesus christ! how the hell does he sing like that so punchy and powerful and high? and i lacked all three...i literally, physically, could not sing the song from beginning to end even in the lower keys!! but something inside told me i could get it someday.......

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I also agree with raphaels on his last post (hmmm, which seems to have disappeared??). You can be very poetic and say "Man, just sing from your heart like there is no tomorrow. Let the gust of air from your beautiful instrument create waves of pure enlightment in the soul of listener, like a butterfly travelling across the autumn sky". Then you'd get a certain group of people doing a "slow clap" and say "That was beautiful. THAT'S what I'm talking about. Just don't worry about it, dude and just sing. It's really not more complicated than that, grasshopper". Then we'd have no need for vocal instructors. Only poets. And everyone could easily sing just by reading that line a few times. I'm not saying that YOU are like that poet, Bob, but I've heard other people get close to something like that :)

Jonpall...12 rep points for working in a "slow clap" reference on a vocal forum :P

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It has the most jaw drop of all American vowels. I think my problem with Ah is that I don't open up enough for it. Also she mentions that the tongue down more in Ah, especially in the back. I was under the impression that this is counter productive to singing? or is it just that this tongue position is more prone to extraneous tensions, but it's fine as long as those are avoided?

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