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join me in a discussion about vowel modification?

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hi folks,

lately i'm deep into this whole idea of selecting a vowel or vowel shade and trying to drive the air stream into the exact

resonator pocket to maximize ping and ring.....per vowel, per note.

my latest discovery is i have much more of this ring on "ee" for example, when i aim the tone further back behind the palette.

but the adjustment can sometimes feel "unfamiliar" or the sensation takes a little getting used to, but the note comes out so narrow and more free you just can sense it's where it needs to be.l

but again certain vowel shades i find you might have to manipulate your throat or jaw just a little...

so to get this ball rolling, what has been your experiences with vowel modifying? what sensations are you feeling?

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Robert's "may" suggestion is a really easy vowel to produce for me. I don't have to place it anywhere.

For me, EEE is hard anywhere I place it. If I'm twanging head, I can only get a clear EEE vowel high up in my head voice, or fully in my chest voice. Taking it through the bridge it tough. I've always hated turning meee into may. Rock singers in particular do it like crazy, and I've always found it annoying. Steven Perry, Steven Tyler, those guys don't modify EEE much at all. I'm envious.

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Me too. It kills me to hear it most of the time. I've always leaned toward the "ih" (as in "sit") for "ee".

Exactly. Too obvious of a may sound on EE sounds like the singer just gave up.

But, like you said, Jonpall, it CAN be used to good artistic effect. Michael Starr from Steel Panther rocks it.

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I've been focusing lately on this too. I've actually been placing my vowels, including Ee, way up front primarily using the front half of the tongue. My tongue is arched up a little creating a space between the tongue and lips. I found the buzz I get in the lip/mask area is very strong and feels like the projection is more effortless. I also found it helps keep the muscles in the back of the mouth more relaxed because you need smaller adjustments and they are done at the front of the mouth. I *think* this is what is described in SATA as vowel medialization.

It is confusing because we're told the mask/lips are supposed to be buzzing, but also further back in the soft palate and back of the pharynx, but I feel like there is a trade off. I do think further back gives a smoother vowel and is necessary for an operatic quality while far front has more bite.

When you say aim behind the soft palate, do you mean like towards the back wall of the throat? Or back around and over into the nasal area?

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I learned it from a classical technique but if, at the top, I modify toward i (ee) it is bright and enough volume to give me a headache. I can detune a smidge by backing off the ee sound just a little.

But I have found that the tongue, which is normally an articulator is also part of the resonating structure and helps form the vowel you are using. And that a vowel is partially due to harmonics.

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Bob - I found that Ken's way of modifying the "ee" is very effective - turning it into "eh" like "eight". I'm using CVT's neutral exercises everyday which are all "ee" with a lighter phonation. It seems the louder you sing the more you need to modify the vowel and the lighter you sing, the less you need to modify. This is consistent with CVT's theory that in "neutral" you can sing pure vowels throughout the range.

The vowel modifications (1st formant tuning) - which occur in the back behind the bend in the tongue are now pretty much automated for me due to constant practice. It no longer seems "foreign" as it first did. I am now working on flattening or really curving the tongue in a concave shape on "ah" and "ay". This was just about impossible for me at first as I would always raise the back of my tongue "up" when modifying. Now that the back of my throat is tuning the vowel "automatically" I've been able to bring the tongue down. Keeping the tongue down seems to amplify the 2nd formant which keeps the vowel brighter as you modify.

Here is a great page on Vowel Modification:

http://www.singwise.com/cgi-bin/main.pl?section=articles&doc=VowelsFormantsAndModifications

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Bob - I found that Ken's way of modifying the "ee" is very effective - turning it into "eh" like "eight". I'm using CVT's neutral exercises everyday which are all "ee" with a lighter phonation. It seems the louder you sing the more you need to modify the vowel and the lighter you sing, the less you need to modify. This is consistent with CVT's theory that in "neutral" you can sing pure vowels throughout the range.

The vowel modifications (1st formant tuning) - which occur in the back behind the bend in the tongue are now pretty much automated for me due to constant practice. It no longer seems "foreign" as it first did. I am now working on flattening or really curving the tongue in a concave shape on "ah" and "ay". This was just about impossible for me at first as I would always raise the back of my tongue "up" when modifying. Now that the back of my throat is tuning the vowel "automatically" I've been able to bring the tongue down. Keeping the tongue down seems to amplify the 2nd formant which keeps the vowel brighter as you modify.

Here is a great page on Vowel Modification:

http://www.singwise.com/cgi-bin/main.pl?section=articles&doc=VowelsFormantsAndModifications

thanks geno, i'm just experimenting a lot lately to (hopefully) build a memory response to the vowels. the part that gets me a little frustrated is (without a teacher for guidence) how do you know the difference, let's say between not hitting a note because of the wrong vowel/vowel shade per your particular voice, and just not being able to hit the note because it's not in your range when you sing a song with that note?

not sure if that made any sense...lol!!!

in other words what if you can hit a note

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thanks geno, i'm just experimenting a lot lately to (hopefully) build a memory response to the vowels. the part that gets me a little frustrated is (without a teacher for guidence) how do you know the difference, let's say between not hitting a note because of the wrong vowel/vowel shade per your particular voice, and just not being able to hit the note because it's not in your range when you sing a song with that note?

not sure if that made any sense...lol!!!

in other words what if you can hit a note

Bob: Your question: 'how do you tell the difference'... its one that the Spectrogram can help you with. What you see on the screen can reinforce what you already know about how it feels to do. Start with very comfortable parts of your range, where you are confident in the vowels and results you are getting, and get used to the way they _look_ on the screen. De-tune some of the vowels, and see how that looks, too... for example, slightly overbrightening or overdarkening. You will discover, I think, that what your body tells you about the 'correctness' of the vowel will be reinforced by what you can see on the screen.

I think it will take a few sessions, with an hour or so each, of playing/experimenting with this to get the hang of how the small vowel changes show up, and what happens on the screen when you are zeroing-in on the perfect ones for any given note. Once you get the hang of that in your midrange, then you can go above the passaggio to the comfy head tones, and do the same thing up there. The goal is to learn how the best ones look onscreen. They will appear different than the lower ones.

That should get you started.

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thanks geno, i'm just experimenting a lot lately to (hopefully) build a memory response to the vowels. the part that gets me a little frustrated is (without a teacher for guidence) how do you know the difference, let's say between not hitting a note because of the wrong vowel/vowel shade per your particular voice, and just not being able to hit the note because it's not in your range when you sing a song with that note?

not sure if that made any sense...lol!!!

in other words what if you can hit a note

Bob - I know what you mean. A simple test of if you can "hit" a note would be an "ng" scale or siren and see how high you can go with that. The "ng" seems to not require any special modification. So this would establish if your folds are able to create the pitches. My guess is you can go pretty dang high on the "ng".

I first learned vowel mods with operatic training, but back then I really didn't know what was going on. Ken's videos really hammered the concept home with me, and I just tried to emulate his vowel shading "by ear". I practiced with his videos for a long time (months) until it became automatic. Practicing along with an audio clip or video really helps me. I still can't do the CVT neutral "ee's" well (in the passagio) without listening and singing right along with the audio clip. Whenever I practice these I always get the laptop out and set it on the counter in front of a mirror. Listening along just relaxes all my muscles and I can dial in the perfect "shade" of vowel. Yesterday I tried those exercises without the laptop and it just didn't work. I was cracking and constricting. I'll consider myself graduated from those exercises when I can do these without the audio clip.

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I've always hated turning meee into may. Rock singers in particular do it like crazy, and I've always found it annoying.

- Amen.

In phonetics, 'EE' or /i/, is produced at the very top, very front of the mouth. Thus, its the smallest resonance space of all the vowels. 'I' as in 'sing', or /I/, is produced equally far forward in the mouth but lower down, so you get to drop your jaw and open your mouth more. I guess thats why its a good trick to sing "Scene" as somewhere in between "Scene and" "Sin"

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Bob: Your question: 'how do you tell the difference'... its one that the Spectrogram can help you with. What you see on the screen can reinforce what you already know about how it feels to do. Start with very comfortable parts of your range, where you are confident in the vowels and results you are getting, and get used to the way they _look_ on the screen. De-tune some of the vowels, and see how that looks, too... for example, slightly overbrightening or overdarkening. You will discover, I think, that what your body tells you about the 'correctness' of the vowel will be reinforced by what you can see on the screen.

I think it will take a few sessions, with an hour or so each, of playing/experimenting with this to get the hang of how the small vowel changes show up, and what happens on the screen when you are zeroing-in on the perfect ones for any given note. Once you get the hang of that in your midrange, then you can go above the passaggio to the comfy head tones, and do the same thing up there. The goal is to learn how the best ones look onscreen. They will appear different than the lower ones.

That should get you started.

thanks as always geno

steve, admittedly i haven't played with the spectogram much, basically because for some reason the settings you gave me don't save, so i have to re-insert all the settings (probably my machine) and the truth is at the risk of sounding dumb, i just can't seem to really understand it admittedly i got a little discouraged. it's tough for me to grasp and interpret for some reason....i admit...it's a little over my head.

i just downloaded ultimasound ii, i was wondering if you have had any experience with this one?

is there a spectograph for beginners book out there?

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