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Sirens- Why is "EE" easier than "Ah"?

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Billy Budapest
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I notice that when doing sirens, EEs are really easy. Ah's and other kind of 'open' vowels don't really work for me.

Any idea why that is?

    EEs have a natural Twang configuration with a high back tongue and tip of tongue on the bottom teeth. It is a double edge sword though. EEs Can lead to a headier tone or they can splat with too wide of a mouth opening. "Ah" has a low back of tongue.

   Everyone has their own "Resting" place, a place or vowel that they are more comfortable with because of their speaking habits and physiology.

   For me the "Eh" sound is easier and helps me stay connected. I still need to be in the right state of mind for it and concentrate on keeping that connection.

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In my experience, which could certainly be suspect, ee is easier to work on. It sounds pretty much the same in any language and accent or dialect. Ah is a little less forgiving. Ah is a sink or swim, working without a net vowel, though it offers many advantages once you have a handle on it. And, like MDEW, I think it has to do with alignment of your vocal tract.

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Billy, I find a lot depends on how you sing an "ah" siren.

 

Sirens need laryngeal control.  If the larynx rides up and you widen out, you lock.  There's no release.

 

I find if do them at lower volumes I shift resonance sooner (go headier) and they behave better than if you sing them full out.

 

The louder I sing, the more I raise my shift point, I'm transitioning much higher up and holding on to more weight and needing to manage more tension..

 

 

 

The "ee" I find easier because of it's very nature of being a narrow throat shape, it just lends itself to carve its way up. 

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I guess if the acoustic overload of the "ee" is light enough, it could be easier...  but for me, "Ah" is a bit less challenging. Being able to manipulate my vocal tract to accommodate the "Ah" as it ascends in frequency, is and advantage for me... the the rather "stuck with what you got" nature of the more narrowed "ee", does not lend itself as easy to my articulators to navigate.  I generally don't perceive the narrowed vowels as "easier", I suspect most people don't. 

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exactly. I find that my Ahs just break up and get really airy, much like the person that posted in the airy topic.

 

Hey Billy, can you do us a small favor and please upload a picture to your profile so you have an identity and it helps make the forum look more cool... thanks!

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It's because the tongue rises up and keeps the air from flowing out it sends a little supra glottal air back and makes it easier where as the ah the tongue is lower and not as much air going back at the cords. Also ah tends to slightly open the cords but the reason is in the first part.

   I did mention the tongue rising in the back on EE but I forgot about the slight occlusion that also happens.

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As daniel said. Ee is almost in the same boat as a semi occluded vocal exercise. The back pressure encourages easy fold closure.

However, closed vowels can cause more problems than open, depending on your technical issues at the time.

I know when I first started training in classical and I thought the heavy cover sound was opera. I loved closed vowels. However, as I progressed and learned the real opera method, as well as working with all other genres. I moved to favoring open vowels, and even diphthonging closed gather more open sound. Now I am 70/30 open/closed. I never really see that ratio changing.

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For "singing", oohs, have been tough and higher "eees" (As, Bs) can be tough (unless you open them a bit). I'm mostly speaking of the siren deal. I tend to have a lot of roughness in my transition point. So for sirens, on Ah, that roughness keeps me from making a solid sound. On Eee, I don't have that issue.

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This might be cause:  "Ah" has the highest first formant, and when going through the passagio, it causes harmonics to cross the formants - forcing you to modify the vowel.  If you do it right then fine, it should be no problem, but this is tricky - took me a long time to learn how.  And of course if you sing light enough you don't have to worry about vowel mods (not reaching acoustic overload).

 

"ee" and "oo" have the same first formant which happens to be the lowest formant of all vowels.  It is so low that harmonics don't cross them so you don't have to "negotiate" the passagio on these vowels.

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IPA 'i' = Eng. "ee"

 

A narrowed vowel will respond if you lower the acoustic overload... but then... you have a volume, dynamics issue.. can't hear it.

 

Now the ability to sing narrowed vowels is contingent on many variables:

 

1). Training.

2). Physical Strength.

3). Personal Anatomy.

4). The Frequency.

5). The note your coming from, the note your going into next.

6). The text/lyric.

 

The fixation on singing narrowed vowels is a bit of a missive in my view. Sometimes you want to modify narrowed vowels because a more open position just sounds better. If you only sing narrowed vowels , you risk sounding amateurish in my opinion... it becomes too "speech-like"... too "Wednesday night Karaoke"... modified narrowed vowels gives you warmth and color.

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Ee like english. Or, for those who don't speak english, ee like the pronunication of the letter i in hispanic and some european languages.

Ty ron..and indeed.. in Croatian we read i likebenglish reed ee...

Thats why i confuse vowels sometime...preety hard to use vowel mods in Croatian and to still retain the meaning of the word

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@Elvis

 

Not if you are singing and you are using IPA or an Equivalent sound colors in your language.

 

You have to stop viewing "vowels" when referring to singing, as language vowels. If you modify the language vowels in Croatian, I would have to agree with you, it would turn into "gibberish", but if you modify the singing vowels in a lyric that is in Croatian, you are fine.

 

LANGUAGE VOWELS AND SINGING VOWELS ARE NOT THE SAME THING.   :blink: 

 

When we talk about vowel modifications we are not talking about language vowels so whether it is Croatian, English, German or Chinese, it really doesn't matter what your language is... because we are not talking about language vowels when we sing. We are talking about sound colors that give the illusion that it is a language vowel, but it is not. 

 

The attached vowel modification for the lyric "Man In The Box" (in blue) is not a language. These are sound color symbols for English. You can do the same thing with ANY lyric in any language... IF, you are singing the lyric, not speaking the lyric.

 

CLICK HERE >>>

 

Generally, when we sing, the vowels are very rarely, if ever the same as when we speak the same vowels. As a general rule, the higher you are in frequency, the greater the necessity to modify vowels out of the language spectrum. Here is an impromptu iPhone video I did of "Man In The Box" ... its not great audio, but you can hear some of these modifications. Nobody sings this song, or any song above the optimal frequencies of speech, with true language vowels.

 

 

The IPA and explanations of how to understand vowel modifications in lyrics are all explained and demonstrated in my program "Pillars". Here is my own private notes I use on IPA when producing the training program, "The Four Pillars of Singing". CLICK HERE >>> 

 

Hope this helps... 

 

BTW, Felipe just published a very cool YouTube screen capture video about song interpretation that utilizes vowel modification sound symbols, similar to my attachment above... for the same reasons... because Felipe is not reciting poetry, he is singing. Check it out, its pretty cool. >CLICK HERE >>>

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Wow, awesome post people! When sirening, I feel ee and u (as in the letter u) are the easiest to do while I'm warming up, as it is almost impossible to do the others without flipping. But when I'm in the zone, after warm-up, and after practicing the other vowels, I only have problems sporadically with oh. Sorry if the vowel representation is not correct. Cheers!

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... I suspect those of you that are working the narrowed vowels "ee" and "oo" are favoring the physiology, opening the glottis, reducing acoustic overload, etc... to make it work... fine. But pulling back on the compression, respiration and engagement of the CT and other muscles is not going to build a big, belty M2.  You are essentially doing "lift up / pull back" movements which are great for warming up and learning to bridge, but at some point, you have to begin building the musculature and training you body to get stronger and coordinated for the vowels you are breaking on.

 

If there is a vowel Im breaking on or that is more challenging, THAT is were I go in my practice agenda, not back to the vowels and configurations that already are easy. 

 

RESISTANCE TRAINING... moves you forward. 

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