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Tongue position

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Blameitonthevodka
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Any advice on achieving the correct tongue position? I try to flatten it with the sound but it just does some crazy stuff on it's own. And I'm assuming it's flat for vowels then goes up for consonants to pronounce them....well not flat but a 'U' shape isn't it?

Hi.

Since tongue position is the principal determinant of the vowel, there are no hard and fast rules about its position and/or shaping. The 'correct' tongue position for a vowel depends on what vowel you intend to sing, in what range, overall vocal tract configuration and other articulator's contributions to vowel formation.

Even the location chosen for the tip of the tongue during a sustained vowel can be used variably.

My advice? Don't try to keep it in any arbitrary position. That will just induce tensions you don't want, tensions that will be provoked as you fight the movement that the tongue must make to form the various vowels. It works far better if you let the tongue move freely to the location/shape that produces the vowel you want to sing, for every particular note.

Its worthy work to practice vowels and consonants in combination, so that consonants are clearly and rapidly made, and the transitions from them to vowels are clean.

I hope this is helpful.

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Hi.

Since tongue position is the principal determinant of the vowel, there are no hard and fast rules about its position and/or shaping. The 'correct' tongue position for a vowel depends on what vowel you intend to sing, in what range, overall vocal tract configuration and articulator's contributions to vowel formation.

Even the location chosen for the tip of the tongue during a sustained vowel can be used variably.

My advice? Don't try to keep it in any arbitrary position. That will just induce tensions you don't want, tensions that will be provoked as you fight the movement that the tongue must make to form the various vowels. It works far better if you let the tongue move freely to the location/shape that produces the vowel you want to sing, for every particular note.

Its worthy work to practice vowels and consonants in combination, so that consonants are clearly and rapidly made, and the transitions from them to vowels are clean.

I hope this is helpful.

Steve, do you feel the same way regarding mouth position? I've heard teacher after teacher recommend keeping the mouth position pretty static, to avoid excessive jaw movement, perhaps to keep some kind of consistent resonance, etc.

Is there any benefit to that kind of approach? Keeping some part of the embouchure or laryngeal movement limited in order to free up the other variables, like the tongue, to take over the workload in forming vowels?

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Steve, do you feel the same way regarding mouth position? I've heard teacher after teacher recommend keeping the mouth position pretty static, to avoid excessive jaw movement, perhaps to keep some kind of consistent resonance, etc.

Is there any benefit to that kind of approach? Keeping some part of the embouchure or laryngeal movement limited in order to free up the other variables, like the tongue, to take over the workload in forming vowels?

Owen Korzec: Well, up/down jaw motions cause vowel changes, as do lip-shape adjustments in combination with them.

Here's the deal: All these things move the resonances around, in ways that can align or disalign those resonances with respect to the harmonics of the sung tone. My personal preference is to approach vowel formation with the appropriate jaw-drop so that F1 is tuned to help out 1 or more lower harmonics, to have tongue position be the primary spacer of F1 and F2 with respect to each other, and to let the lip opening shape be the fine-tuning of F2, especially for the closed vowels Oh and OO. If one or more of these is restricted in motion, or is overdone, then I think vowel distortion is the inevitable result.

Blameitonthevodka: Owen Korzec's question provoked some other thoughts I wanted to mention to you. The front/mid/back location of the tongue hump (if viewed from the side) plus the height of the hump with respect to the hard palate, are the vocal tract attributes responsible for most vowel differentiation. Notwithstanding my comments above to him, as an exercise, it is useful to keep everything else motionless (for a time) and to explore the sensations of letting the tongue perform this role on its own. In my own singing, I found that a very large amount of tension was hiding in the tongue, preventing it from rising correctly for ee and oo, until I used this exercise. I recommend it to you and all singers interested in vocal freedom.

I hope this is helpful.

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Its not doing anything on "its own", thats just you, singing. The tongue moves as a result of the coordination to articulate the vowel/consonant.

Reduction of movements is usually nice, as long as you dont compromise the clarity.

Your teacher should be able to help you with these, doing it alone is not a good idea.

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Owen Korzec: Well, up/down jaw motions cause vowel changes, as do lip-shape adjustments in combination with them.

Here's the deal: All these things move the resonances around, in ways that can align or disalign those resonances with respect to the harmonics of the sung tone. My personal preference is to approach vowel formation with the appropriate jaw-drop so that F1 is tuned to help out 1 or more lower harmonics, to have tongue position be the primary spacer of F1 and F2 with respect to each other, and to let the lip opening shape be the fine-tuning of F2, especially for the closed vowels Oh and OO. If one or more of these is restricted in motion, or is overdone, then I think vowel distortion is the inevitable result.

Blameitonthevodka: Owen Korzec's question provoked some other thoughts I wanted to mention to you. The front/mid/back location of the tongue hump (if viewed from the side) plus the height of the hump with respect to the hard palate, are the vocal tract attributes responsible for most vowel differentiation. Notwithstanding my comments above to him, as an exercise, it is useful to keep everything else motionless (for a time) and to explore the sensations of letting the tongue perform this role on its own. In my own singing, I found that a very large amount of tension was hiding in the tongue, preventing it from rising correctly for ee and oo, until I used this exercise. I recommend it to you and all singers interested in vocal freedom.

I hope this is helpful.

Thanks Steve! That was helpful.

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