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some advice with the "eh" vowel

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hi folks, i just wanted to pass along this really helpful tidbit of info regarding singing the "eh" vowel (courtesy of anthony frisell).

it's just of those "nice to know" helpful things....

if you are singing a full voice "eh" and you want to lighten it up a bit add a little "ee" to it. this helps to thin it.

conversely, if your "eh" sounds too light and thin, and you want to add some thickness add a little touch of "oh."

i tried it and it really helps depending on the sound you are going for.

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very related to phonetics. "eh" is produced in the front of the mouth, roughly in the middle, "ee" front of the mouth, at the top. "oh", however, is two sounds, e.g. a diphthong. It starts of with a schwa (the vowel in "the") which is produced in the middle of the mouth and finishes with the vowel in "you".

Heres the usual phonetics chart showing the open mouth and where all the vowels are produced

In phonetics, "feet" is written 'i'

"head" is written "e"

"hat" is "æ"

"fun" is "a"

"the" is "É™"

"Oh" is "əʊ"

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Yea, because the letters used in phonetics mean somewhat different things in normal spelling, I think. I tried to make a more understandable chart now, but Im sitting at a computer with crappy gimp instead of photoshop and I finally gave up. Ill try again when I get my hands on photoshop

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See if that helps. Thats what the phonetics chart represents, an open mouth facing toward the left.

Where it says closed, semi-closed etc means, obviously, that the mouth opens and closes in varying degrees to produce those sounds.

When he said to add "oh", which is two different sounds, from experimenting, Im guessing he means the first sound, the vowel in "the", also known technically as "schwa." The second sound in "oh" is the same vowel as in "you", which is produced at the back of the mouth. Didnt put that one in because it didnt fit, and also because I dont think he meant that vowel (might be wrong about that though).

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Yeah, something screwy with this sites formatting there. You can just drag the link up to the url field. hang on, Ill repost

http://imageshack.us/f/829/phonetics.jpg

From what Ive learned at school (going for a masters in english and am going to try to see if I am capable of getting a professor title), "Schwa" (which is the vowel in 'the'), is considered one of the basic, fundamental vowel sounds (vowel is the wrong technical term for what is actually called a phoneme, but lets not complicate things). Its production is centered right in the middle of the open mouth, so adding a touch of it should probably give more resonance to most, or all, vowels, (though thats just me guessing).

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Oh good, this one works. This, according to phonetic science, is where the vowels (phonemes) are produced in the mouth. The words at the top of the mouth, both the ones at the front and the back, involve closing the mouth, though not completely. The words at the bottom, both the ones at the front and the back, involve opening the mouth. Words in between involve opening and closing the mouth progressively, according to the same logical pattern.

Sounds that involve quite a closed mouth, feet and food, f.ex., cause us singers problems, words with a big ole open mouth, hurt and hut, f.ex., give us less of a headache. If you say "heat" followed by "hut", you will notice how much your mouth opens, (jaw drops), and closes to make those different sounds.

Consonants follow a similar pattern, btw.

The words I put in the chart are meant to be read non-rhotically, e.g. you dont pronounce the "R" in "hurt" and "heart". They are correct only if pronounced the British way, without an "R".

Reseachers in phonetics, of course, dont care about the tricks singers learn, such as the trick mentioned in the first post, which shows how one can steal a bit of resonance by adding a bit of another sound placement into an, otherwise difficult, vowel.

You can see, from the chart, how videohere's tip makes sense. Moving "ehhh" up to "i" will involve closing the mouth a little more, producing it closer to the roof of the mouth and, thus, making the sound sharper - moving "ehhh" back a little into the center of the mouth towards "errr" will open the mouth a little more and move the sound back from the teeth into the open space in the centre of the mouth, give it more room to resonate in and make it sound rounder (a.k.a. "rounded vowel"). I'm guessing here, but it might be that singers with full, rounded sounds are adding in a bit of the vowels in the centre of the mouth into everything. One of the vocal teachers here might have a comment on that.

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Oh good, this one works. This, according to phonetic science, is where the vowels (phonemes) are produced in the mouth. The words at the top of the mouth, both the ones at the front and the back, involve closing the mouth, though not completely. The words at the bottom, both the ones at the front and the back, involve opening the mouth. Words in between involve opening and closing the mouth progressively, according to the same logical pattern.

Hi, Matt.

The picture and chart give us some nice diagramming to talk about these ideas.

First, just a clarification. 'Phoneme' is the term for any sound used in a language. Vowels are a subset of the phonemes.

To your remaining quoted comments, there is a completely different interpretation of the vowel chart which can also be used, and which I will offer for your consideration:

If the jaw is left in a consistent amount of drop, the position of the vowel on the chart can be interpreted to generally indicate the location and height of the hump of the tongue.

I agree with Bob (VIDEOHERE) its great to see these kinds of ideas and materials on the table.

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Thanks, raphaels.

yeah, I agree that steve put it more technically correct. I wss a bit leery of using the term vowel, because usually people think of "a,e,i,o,u" and where does "ehhh", f.ex., come into that? Also, tbh, what with summer holidays, Ive forgotten some of this and cant remember if "oh" is two phonemes or two allophones (nah, must be two phonemes); luckily, thats irrelevant to this discussion :P

As Steve explained, where I put each word is where the hump of the tongue will be when you say that word. How the jaw drops may not be as relevant as where the highest point of the arch in the tongue is to singers. Singers and ventriloquists can probably learn to do all that without moving the jaw, even if moving the jaw is more natural. I dont think they can get away from having to move the tongue around to different places though.

"ee" is head vowel, "ah" is a chest vowel, and "eh" isin between. It is easily adaptable.

If we use that terminology, then tongue placement is what defines what a head tone is and what a chest tone is, which may be an interesting way of looking at it (not sure I agree with that theory, though). Physically, the only difference I am aware of is that 'ah' involves dropping the jaw and highest point of the hump in the tongue a little less than an inch - in fact, "ah" involves not arching the tongue and letting it lie flat instead.

I will say, though, that Ive considered several times before that the physical sensation of the centre vowels do seem to physically line up with the sensation I think of as mixed voice.

Any thoughts on this, Steven?

I'm guessing here, but it might be that singers with full, rounded sounds are adding in a bit of the vowels in the centre of the mouth into everything. One of the vocal teachers here might have a comment on that.
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Matt, ronws: Going back to ronws' comment: Among some singing teachers, there was an opinion/impression that each vowel had its own character of phonation as well as resonance... that the way the laryngeal actions occurred was different vowel-to-vowel. Its true that quite often, singers get in the habit of registering their phonation with slight differences for particular vowels, even to the point that they may register "ee' (and also "oo") more lightly than "eh" and "ah". It happens even today.

What we now know is that "ee" and "oo" have very low passaggio points because of low first resonance positions. "eh" is mid, and "ah" has the highest passaggio point of all vowels. That means that in the upper middle of a male voice range, say middle C, an "ee" vowel could be in 'head', the 'eh' would be in the passaggio, or "mix", and "ah" would still be in chest from a vowel perspective... all with the same character of phonation, but with dramatically different sensations for the singer.

Matt: Singers very often modify spoken vowels to suit their concept of how a singing vowel should sound, with the specific mods depending on the genre. For a classical singer in training, the starting point for this, the "frame of reference", is the 5 long vowels of Italian, in written IPA /i/ (ee), /e/ (ay...1 sound, not the dipthong), /a/ (bright ah), /o/ (oh... 1 sound, not the dipthong) and /u/ "oo", in their open and closed forms (the closed are sung with a slightly smaller mouth opening. From that reference, the singer branches out to the short vowels: /I/ (ih), /E/ (eh), /A/ (a as in 'cat'), /U/ (uh), and if singing in English, the /oe/ of 'foot', if French, the schwa of 'le', if German or the Scandanavian languages, all the vowels with umlauts (generaly sung as other vowels through rounded lips) and other diacritical marks in the 'mid' column.

I hope this helps.

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Oh good, this one works. This, according to phonetic science, is where the vowels (phonemes) are produced in the mouth. The words at the top of the mouth, both the ones at the front and the back, involve closing the mouth, though not completely. The words at the bottom, both the ones at the front and the back, involve opening the mouth. Words in between involve opening and closing the mouth progressively, according to the same logical pattern.

Sounds that involve quite a closed mouth, feet and food, f.ex., cause us singers problems, words with a big ole open mouth, hurt and hut, f.ex., give us less of a headache. If you say "heat" followed by "hut", you will notice how much your mouth opens, (jaw drops), and closes to make those different sounds.

Consonants follow a similar pattern, btw.

The words I put in the chart are meant to be read non-rhotically, e.g. you dont pronounce the "R" in "hurt" and "heart". They are correct only if pronounced the British way, without an "R".

Reseachers in phonetics, of course, dont care about the tricks singers learn, such as the trick mentioned in the first post, which shows how one can steal a bit of resonance by adding a bit of another sound placement into an, otherwise difficult, vowel.

You can see, from the chart, how videohere's tip makes sense. Moving "ehhh" up to "i" will involve closing the mouth a little more, producing it closer to the roof of the mouth and, thus, making the sound sharper - moving "ehhh" back a little into the center of the mouth towards "errr" will open the mouth a little more and move the sound back from the teeth into the open space in the centre of the mouth, give it more room to resonate in and make it sound rounder (a.k.a. "rounded vowel"). I'm guessing here, but it might be that singers with full, rounded sounds are adding in a bit of the vowels in the centre of the mouth into everything. One of the vocal teachers here might have a comment on that.

http://www.upload-jpg.com/images.php/995e2006/ppp.jpg

thanks matt, i got it now. this is similar to what frisell writes about (if i'm not careful i'm gonna end up memorizing his book it's do damn good) lol!!!

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this is similar to what frisell writes about (if i'm not careful i'm gonna end up memorizing his book it's do damn good) lol!!!

I'm on my fourth reading of the book. The exercises are good to practice any time but each time I read the book again, I pick up something new that was not as apparent to me, before.

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I'm on my fourth reading of the book. The exercises are good to practice any time but each time I read the book again, I pick up something new that was not as apparent to me, before.

me too ron, i don't want to miss a thing. there really aren't that many individual exercises and they don't have to be so rigid. i'm already feeling the affects of the "ee" getting stronger in the pasaggio notes and i can crescendo and decrescendo pretty much too.

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