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Effective Vowel Modification

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Hey all, I know a lot of beginners say "F%$K vowel modification I'm just going to seamlessly bridge the passaggio." I am not one of those people. Vowel modification has helped me tremendously. However, I am not sure if I'm on the right track. I also play around with twang/dampening depending on the vowel.

So far all I know is:

Ah -> AW

Oh -> Uh

Aa -> Eh

Oo -> Ouh (book)

Not sure about EE and some of the other vowels or how much to modify vowels.. Could someone shed some light on vowel modification and its uses? How could I use vowel modification effectively to help my voice become more seamless... How has vowel modificaiton helped you?

Note: typically my chest voice is bright and lower-headvoice dark-sounding. The "uh" shading thread Mr.Lunte put up really peaked my interest because when I tried it I literally said WUOHH... it was kind of dark/boomy but I ACTUALLY covered. :lol:

Thanks in advance!

- JayMC

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I wasn't aware that beginners understood enough to reject vowel mod or not but then, I am not a teacher. Are you a teacher, Jay?

And, yes, read Steven Fraser's words. He gives away the keys to the kingdom. All you have to do is read them. Which can be too much, for some. On that part, I realize some students are going to stumble. Because some students learn by means of sound. Or they learn by physical watching you do something.

So, some students will have an easier time with manuals and descriptions of exercises, others are going to do better with a live, human teacher in the room with them.

Vowels involve tongue heights, various freq's enforced, others attenuated or filtered out. Someone doubted me the other day when I said that "uh" detuned me. And totally disregarded what I had to say about accent or dialect. The way I was raised, saying the word love which has the uh sound involved dropping the tongue on that sound. Shading to oo help me retrain the tongue so that it doesn't drop on uh, any more. Then, again, I am not wed to anyone vowel sound, I use the sound that is appropriate at the time.

To me, I cannot sing with experimenting. For me, singing is fun. I can intellectually contemplate and realize that others simply have to think of singing as "WORK". They just do. It doesn't have to make sense to me, I don't have argue with them, nor them with me. Some simply have to view singing as work. And then need detailed sets of exactly how to "experiment." And for how long, etcetera. This is to take liability away from themselves. That way, if they do exactly what you say and it doesn't work so well for them, they can blame you.

I cannot see singing as work or as a way for me to escape responsibility for myself. For me, singing has to be fun and "not work" in the sense of drudgery in a job. So, the experimenting might be seen by some as goofing off. Well, for me, I don't care if you or I or someone else calls it goofing off. It is a great way to find out how your voice tunes.

For while I am goofing off and playing with vowel sounds, even when singing along with a song on the radio, I realized that sometimes a vowel shading works better for my voice than what the original singer was doing, especially if the original singer was a baritone. So, the "work" for me (as I know some people just have to see this as work. Sometimes for psychological purpose. They can justify work, they cannot justify goofing off) is concentrating when I sing what I am doing with vowel sounds.

Now, this will involve me committing at least two cardinal sins. But I am already on the highway to Hell and I might as well rack a larger number of sins than I already have. I think, if you show up in Hell with a certain number of sins, you get your own reserved parking space. Anyway, sin #1, I end up not trying to sound like the original singer in timbre. #2, I end up singing in a way that works best for my voice, celebrating my unique voice and sound. Please, don't pray for me, I am unrepentant and irredeemable.

Sin #3. Let me go ahead and stick my neck way out there, just begging to get beheaded. You do not sing as you speak. And, an insight that hit home for me again, the envelope of a good speaking voice is inside a good singing voice. Speaking should come out of singing, rather than the other way around. The two actions can be different, with speaking being the smaller, shorter activity. And in singing, you will modify vowels. And those who think that vowel mods should not be necessary in singing, I think they are wrong, purely and simply. Of course, I am an amateur and I see the painters have arrived with stencils to have in place while they paint my name on my reserved space.

So, sin #4. In my opinion, if you don't want to experiment or goof off, you don't want to sing, at least in your own voice, with enough intention or strong enough desire. And that's not a condemnation. Just saying, figure out what you want and accept it.

Sin #5, even though I have liked other singers and have emulated them, as we all do, I have never want be known as sounding like this or that admired singer. I have always wanted to be known for my own sound. Which violates some protocol, especially that of the classical world and some people who impose the classical sound idea even if the music is not opera. Where each and every voice, no matter how individual is expected to make exactly the same sound, with enough "technique" and hard work. I realize many feel that way, but I cannot make myself feel the same thing. Which may give me the rep of not caring about it strongly enough, not taking singing "seriously" enough.

Man, that's a long-winded way of saying, experiment with vowel mods and see what you find.

"Living easy

Loving free.

Season ticket

On a one-way ride.

Ask for nothing

Leave me be.

Taking everything

in my stride...."

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Also it seems like within the tessitura of any particular singer, and more specifically on lower pitches, there is no need to modify the vowel, thus the speech-like character of one's singing when they are "singing within their range" as common folks would term it

That almost sounds like you were saying voices are individual. Care to join me on the highway to Hell?

You may have a point about lack of vowel mod for someone at the lower to mid part of whatever their range is because that might be used to where they speak, in pitch. Because when they go beyond that and fail, it usually because of breath support and vowel shape. If they were using vowel mod all along, there would be no failure. So, that's kind of an inductive reasoning.

I don't feel a need for vowel mod at my speaking level but at some point, I don't pay attention to where, even I am modifying, simply for tuning and ease production.

But still, there is plenty of room on this ride for individuals. Hell, it's not only for children, it's for individuals, too.

:D

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For "typical" pop singing you tend to change vowels in a way that gets more and more narrow, such as ah, uh, aw, oo (book) and oo (soon). What I struggled with (and still do) is understanding that the vowel changes in the mouth, but the throat stays open and the lips should change very smoothly and easily. Most tongues are lazy! I got this from Ken Tamplin's work, where he stresses this constantly as his "open throat" technique (like "Bel Canto" or "classical" technique). Of course for much modern pop and rock you can't sing with such an open throat because it doesn't suit the style, but that principle of using the smallest changes possible and supporting a lot has really helped me.

When I used to study SS/SLS techniques it was a big problem for me because I exaggerated vowels as if I was speaking. That is not correct and I can't stress enough the importance of an open, relaxed throat. Even if you want to sing styles that demand a smaller throat (for tone/style), if you can sing open, you can let it close. But if you only sing closed and constricted and tight, you're gonna have a bad time.

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Even if you want to sing styles that demand a smaller throat (for tone/style), if you can sing open, you can let it close. But if you only sing closed and constricted and tight, you're gonna have a bad time.

And the clouds part, and the suns shines, and Mark Walhberg sings "Hallelujah!"

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another point to make here is an open throat has no relation to mouth height.

in the beginning maintaining an open throat is either misunderstood or not kept up with. you have to really pay attention to keeping it opened...especially in the higher range with songs that feature a lot of closed vowels.

it's ingrained into your technique only after you really work at it. it's so easy to forget to keep it opened and it can feel "unnatural" or unfamiliar in the beginnning because you're not used to it.

a great exercise i took from franco tenelli, is just to open to a partial yawn, and manitain it for 3 minutes, once a day.

you may have a build up of saliva, and it will be an ache the day after till you get used to it.

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another point to make here is an open throat has no relation to mouth height.

in the beginning maintaining an open throat is either misunderstood or not kept up with. you have to really pay attention to keeping it opened...especially in the higher range with songs that feature a lot of closed vowels.

it's ingrained into your technique only after you really work at it. it's so easy to forget to keep it opened and it can feel "unnatural" or unfamiliar in the beginnning because you're not used to it.

a great exercise i took from franco tenelli, is just to open to a partial yawn, and manitain it for 3 minutes, once a day.

you may have a build up of saliva, and it will be an ache the day after till you get used to it.

Another dumb and often misunderstood question.

What are you meaning by OPEN THROAT? Raised soft palet, dropped jaw, forward tongue or wide neck area?

I ask because the throat to me has always been from top of sternum to bottom of chin.

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I'm not sure if I'm on the right track. But for me, its never good to take "OPEN" too far. I feel open in the pharnyx nasal area but very focused in the throat. If I do it right even and oo or ee sound will feel very open but the sound is focused.

I'm not quite sure what everyone means by "open throat." IE: should an Ah vowel be more open than an EE? Why on earth would that be the case. Looking at vowels as throat positions helps me feel more "open", since the Ah shouldn't have less efficient closed-quotient than EE. If the Ah is too open and lacks the firmness of EE then the "open throat" would be counter-productive. Sounds confusing folks :lol:

But thanks for all the replies =)

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I find the narrowness topic to be confusing at times. I believe that the higher I sing the more narrow it has to be, that doesn't mean squeezing the throat but using less musculature and more focused sound.

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Another dumb and often misunderstood question.

What are you meaning by OPEN THROAT? Raised soft palet, dropped jaw, forward tongue or wide neck area?

I ask because the throat to me has always been from top of sternum to bottom of chin.

Maybe not such a dumb question because no one has answered except to say it's a mental image or example and still use it to describe things.

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Maybe not such a dumb question because no one has answered except to say it's a mental image or example and still use it to describe things.

Maybe it's a misnomer. It might be better to say "open pharynx." But if twang is a narrowing of the epiglottic funnel, then, that's not so open, is it?

Motion, when necessary, in the abs. Note in the head. Nothing in the throat, ever, and amen.

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Maybe it's a misnomer. It might be better to say "open pharynx." But if twang is a narrowing of the epiglottic funnel, then, that's not so open, is it?

Motion, when necessary, in the abs. Note in the head. Nothing in the throat, ever, and amen.

Twang is another thing I ended up trying to get rid of because I kept hearing of "OPEN THROAT".

OK thank you all for your input, Back to Vowel modification.

Isn't Modifying vowels the thing that opens and closes(not the best word for this) the throat when you need to make modifications?

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I reread his post, here's what he was trying to say, kinda worded it confusing.

heavy/chesty mode -> BRIGHT (not light...get the difference here geran? bright is the better tonal descriptor, light is easily mistaken as a vocal fold mass description) TONE -> narrower throat

light/thin/heady mode -> dark tone -> more open throat

Also, this is not always true. For one thing narrow vowels are darker and open vowels are brighter. Also vocal modes, dark/bright tonal color and vowels can be controlled independently, CVT just doesn't teach that...

owen, i have to step in here. narrow vowels are not always darker and open vowels can be made dark.

as far the open throat technique, it's more than a mental image...it's just what it says...keeping the airway, the passage physically open and unblocked.

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The one person I know of that can sling that CVT lingo is jonpall, though there are a few others. I don't have the book but I really like theCVI forum. Henrick, the admin/moderator, seems like an easy going guy. He views that precepts in the book as guidelines. Do what works for you.

Kind of suggestion rather than an intractable law. Others may seem to make it more rigid than it really is. However, I still can't get into the system. I am a simple guy and prefer pictures drawn on the cave wall.

:D

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yeah i know ive seen that years ago. I understand all of that but I dont have that software(nor do i want it) and i doubt most of the people here have it. so i was curious as to how you measure your"mass" without all that jazz.

and if you like cute gadgets heres another for you

http://www.youtube.com/user/yiyibin?feature=watch

i prefer to do it the old fashioned way!!! LET'S HEAR IT FOR SINGING!!!!!!!!!!!!

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i agree with dan......and mass is a another misleading term...the folds are only 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch long and very slender membranes.....

and the balance you speak of will never be achieved if you (mentally or physically) compartmentalize the voice.

one voice!! bottom to top and top to bottom. i promise you, the more you train your mentality to regard the voice as one, the more you will get out of your exercising and most importantly, your singing.

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