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Those darn ... consonants.

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I'm trying to work out if this is a anomaly in the system or not (So I'd thought i would throw it out there), thought needed (and responses from forum members for me to mull).

On a first note - am thoroughly enjoying the Appogio thread. One thing though from that is whilst people are discussing how's, who's, theories, science ... Having a section on there on the, 'what this actually means for the layman / teacher and student would be beneficial (i.e. how to adopt all the posts into a "how").

... The reason I say this - is that many years ago, (for me) ... one person (was a festival adjudicator) was discussing on how Breath Management / control / support / posture works in a way that changed my viewpoint (They were talking about phrasing - I have posted previously on it). Since that time, one comment I do get (well not me personally - more students), is "great breath control". It's the first thing written on one sheet from the recent festival done a few weeks ago.

However, on to my post of the day.

We talk vowels lots, we like vowels, we do all sorts with vowels ... However ... at what point do we add (and teach) as well as phrase those Consonants.

One piece in the festival was a theatre song of which said student sang (Girl) ... from a vowel perspective, superbly. From a Vowel perspective 90%+ was great (even I was impressed), the thirds, fifths, octave leaps (B3-B4) all fantastic. From a Vowel perspective, it was either a 1st or 2nd place.

... However ... ,(adjudicator comments), "Diction would be helped by clearer consonants, especially at ends of words".

So ... How do others go about teaching consonants, in reference to diction, or do you keep diction seperate to the usual singing exercises and cover diction (tongue twister stuff - i.e. stuff covered within the theatre circles) elsewhere? (or did Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers; If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?).



(p.s. in this one - we got a contested 3rd - should have been a 2nd (but that's one for another post))

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Lately I'm noticing that whenever my voice cracks, even during speech, it is pretty much always on a plosive (b,d,p,t,k,g and especially t.) Also, closed vowels don't help at all with this. But I'm a fan of the pure vowels. Above my break I try to soften the consonant itself, or do something with my support during or just before pronunciation. Maybe even a complete lift... I need advice here to.

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stew, there is no such thing as a voice thats good on vowels and not so good on consonants.

Problems with consonants denotes that the articulation is heavy due to muscles locking up or due to lack of strenght (or both).

Articulation problems must be corrected before trainning anything else, maybe in parallel with breathing, support and emission. But surely never when working with placement and resonance. Because the tensions and problems will carry on into the muscular memory you are developing.

Now, was it real problems with consonants (meanning that some consonants are simply locked up even on the spoken voice), was the articulation locking up due to tensions when trying to sustain phonation (forcing the voice into place instead of relaxing), or was a simple lack of attention to define them better?

The first case is specially delicate.

Anyways, although care should be taken to not make the consonants heavy and create tensions, they must be very well defined and you must be able to understand the words. Its very annoying not being able to understand it.

So well defined, but not breaking the legatto.

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Bit perplexed on this, "there is no such thing as a voice thats good on vowels and not so good on consonants."

... consonants m, n, ng may be bunged due to hyponasality (Ninety nine / Many men sang at noon diagnostic), a prime example of affected consonants.

A person may not / or incorrectly interdental "th" and thus it sounds "f" (surely you've had one or two with that issue - I know I have), /r/ errors (non production / over rolled), current diction standards dropping (the watever's .. of the world, or Evryfink (everything) / fick (thick) / bovered (bothered)!!!), allergies, other articulation errors / sound substitution, and that's only a few examples (you mention lack of attention to define them for another).

Due to SRS post, I looked over the music to see where specifically it happens, seems to be on leaps (5th and above -which may point to inexperience). I'll have a detailed listen (p.s. I am talking about kids / young adult here).

Consonants locked up - No. I'm still wondering hyponasality (other post / due to allergy) and I'm also now thinking inattention and inexperience (i.e. large leaps are covered later in the grades), also due to the fact that her German christmas song went VERY well (at Xmas).

More mulling needed.

Srs - you say voice cracks even in speech - How old are you (i.e. are you in Puberty years or not).

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Stew what I mean is on the context of evaluating a performance... it will be as good as the weakest part of the whole.

But really problems with consonants will affect vowels. The opposite will also happen. A poor n can shift everything that follows into nasal for example.

Must be trainned and must be defined.

But if its working on other songs/situations. Probably lack of attention or stress...

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"the context of evaluating a performance... it will be as good as the weakest part of the whole" ... Excellent comment. I do think more people should take part on the Festivals, it can really help to niggle out those weak spots.


I did wonder if this was anomaly, hey can all the adjudicators be all right (i.e. one may talk about vowels - which we all know SO well, where few talk consonants).

The thing to take in as Felipe rightly says, is stress, nerves on performance days. Occasionally things just don't go as planned.

I put down anomaly (although am developing diction) as I've just had the singing exam results back - said student has a Distinction. I do know the exams are a calmer, less nerve racking in respect of singing in front of 30 or so people (in a festival scenario vs. 100's in a concert scenario) vs. singing to a single person. (although distinction, odd point about clearer articulation, but the legato line is good. (again what Felipe says on his last line of post))

I was looking over the books about initial, medial and final consonants. The adjudicator said about final consonants, now part of the text says;

"There is widespread tendancy among American singers to ignore or slight final consonants". I think we can change "Americans" to global.

"Weak finals can keep an audience from understanding the words and can make a poor ending to an otherwise good sound".


So, is this problem more widespread. I think the later | statement is true.

So to monitor;

record voice (again!!) and listen / re-listen to consonant sounds (are they certain sounds i.e. Hyponasality, m, n, ng)

diction exercises and "firm finals (see below)"

Listen / monitor over time

(p.s. I have a gut, that Hypo is occuring - so advise Doc / ENT to check)

I could add, Avoid the tendancy to ignore or slight final consonant sounds by firming the final.

I would like peoples thoughts on this one though, "exaggerate the final.", The reason is exaggerating the final can lead to a choppy almost staccato sound rather than a nice ... Legato line.

Thoughts ?

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