By strength, volume and colour adjusted voices are the basis for a convincing solo or choir singing. During forming the vices it is necessary to synchronize most of all the vocal body which is the diaphragm support, the position of the tongue and the resonance moment. Special attention has to be put on explicitely to the relaxed jaw that was mentioned in the previous unit.
Broadly speaking the vowels could be divided in two groups – the ones which are supported in the middle (these are the vowels A, O, U and the reduced vowel ɘ) and in those which are supported broader in horizontal direction (like I, É, the central vowel Ê and the German Ü). The vowel Ü was chosen on purpose in the second group because it is by approach closer to the vertical open I as to the frontal U. Let’s go and have a closer look to the individual vowels…
Frontal orientated vowels
Vowel “A” (ObAmA)
In Slovenia the vowel »A« is used too often too wide open which is similar when you go to extremes like the sound of a spoilt child (Ê). This occurence goes back to popularization of the English texts and the influence of popular music shown in foreign languages. Of course you also have to consider the influence of the individual dialects. That the Slovenian vowel »A« sounds as clear and self confident as possible, you have to consider the recommendation:
The position of the abdominal air support is adjusted in the middle, the air pillar is supported frontal. As it is applied to the other vowels, the voice is directed past the first soft palate and uses the bone support of the hard palate. The tongue is lowered to the teeth and so you get the resonance with help of the head bones in the area of the temple. Let the chin loose to its natural position, do not move it in your direction and do not move it away. The vowel »A« is performed like where you illustrate with your hands in front of your eyes the shape of an upright frame. In there the air flow is directed which is formed by the hands in an acoustic rectangular. Of course the vowel »A« is released at the end of the way into an appropriate acoustic.
When repeating you will see unwitting cooperation of the activated diaphragm therefor is learning how to sing at general activity of the body recommended to support with permanent moving the hands and palm.
In practice I acquired experiences that prove the thesis that the vocal lyricism ability is in close connection with the body expression skills.
At the vowel »O« the abdominal air support is placed similar like at the vowel »A«, distinctly frontal. In comparison to the framed “A”, is the performance of »O« a little oval widened. It is important that the air (acoustic) flow does not lean on the cheeks because it will sound hollow and trapped because of scattering. It is directed in space with soft pouted and wide opened lips in the shape of the acoustic sousaphone. The tongue should stay low at the vowel »O«. During the performance the resonance of the whole vocal body is used. Because of explicit vibration the performing of the consonant “O” in some cultures present also a part of the meditative rituals.
Vowel “U” (blUe)
Also the vowel »U« should be supported by the abdominal air power with adjustment in the middle. The chin and lower lip are relaxed because the middle resonance is made above the upper teeth, at a point, where the nostrils touch the face. Pouting the upper lip and lift it at the same time to the nostrils. The often choked »U« will reach the appropriate sonority during the singing performance. You only lift the lip when you lift the forehead part of the face at the same time you create the feeling of light tension in the part of the nostrils. The mouth keeps an appropriate jaw relaxation during singing.
When exercising for the adjustment of the voices you have to be careful when you repeat more often to form the individual vowel correctly. It is recommended to concentrate the most on two vowels at the same time.
More about the remained (horizontal) vowels can be found in the materials by the publisher Musica Vocal school…
Pronunciation of the consonants
Is the Slovene language a singable language? If you value the singability of a language only by counting consonants, Slovenian ranges among the difficult one’s. But in practice holds that the languages where “singing” vowels at the same time complete equally also the variety of different kinds of consonants offer interesting interpretative possibilities. The correct articulation of the 21 consonant phonemes of the Slovenian written language enables in lyrics an even more passionate, felt and especially experienced expression of various lyrics. Therefor I cannot agree with the evaluation that some Slavic or German languages are not suitable for singing as English. Experiences from the practice show the opposite.
How to sing properly / Vocal workshop with Robert FegušObjavil/a Vocal Technique with Robert Feguš dne Petek, 22. junij 2018
In practice when singing vowels you meet different kinds of difficulties that occur as a consequence of overplayed or not enough detailed pronunciation of the consonants. No one of the extremities are recommended. Solution: Consonants during the exercise are sung at the same time with the belonging vowel!
Let’s imagine for example dart. In the left hand the dart vowel is prepared (for example »A«), in the right hand the dart consonant (for example the sonant “r”). In mind throw the dart and try to hit the target with both at the same time. After some times of repeating involve in the simultaneous hit the pronunciation of the syllable “rA”. Here you have to be careful that the letters are articulated at the same time, just as the synchronised hit of both darts. At the combination with more joint consonants, for example with the words zdrAvjE or skrAjnOst you have to add more fictive darts. When repeating you focus on alternating all individual consonants.
I call your attention to the fact that you do not allow the consonants to stretch the sharpness in the corner of the mouth and perform them with a lowered throat with a soft tongue setting. They are supported only with an explicit air pillar and put them in the position for vocal singing that follows the consonant (rA, sE, čI, mU, …).
First you have to focus on vowel sonants. They are m, n, r, l, v and j (Yellow). These are sounds of middle open level which are pronounced with little air flow obstruction. The flow is obstructed only at the lips and tip of the tongue.
When performing “m” you have to be careful that the lips touch very slightly, the tongue is low because the mentioned consonant gets most of its sonority from the facial resonance plane. You feel good resonance when you feel itching in the part of the lips. Correct vocal humming also shows managing of the basic elements of vocal techniques. For a good audibility is requires so to say a very relaxed and naturally lowered throat.
For a faultless sonority of the consonant »m« it is recommended to do some simple exercises of humming with an open palm which stroke the walls of the room with soft fluent movements. Open the palms in the phase of inhaling. The throat is additionally softened with a relaxed motion of the head on the left and right.
The sonant »n« claims the cooperation of the tongue which is lifted to the palate of the mouth cavity with the whole plane much too often. The definition reads a consonant with little hindrances in air flow you enable a full use of the facial and most of all nasal – near resonance space. This can be reached easily with removing the root and with touching only the point of the tongue above the upper teeth. At the same time soften the lower jaw and that is useful again for lowering the throat.
When doing the exercise you have to focus on correct articulated vowels when singing the consonants “n” and “m” in detail, you have already read about in one of the previous chapters. The exercise is done in a relaxed, agitated style, the tongue, neck and shoulders are totally relaxed.
Štrukelj, A. (1995). Pevsko tehnične vaje. Maribor: Hartman d.o.o.
At the rest of the sonants r, l, j and v consider the same rules as the two one’s (relaxed neck, shoulder, jaw and tongue and a strong air support).
When I worked with singers and choirs I realised that the tongue is often clumsy by the sonant “r” (hard slovenian r) and trying to perform it euphoric. The consequence is a too fast vibrating and unclear expressed repeated »rrrr«. The tongue cannot cooperate with the air flow at a well relaxed point of the tongue (apex) because its root (radix) is rigid and not able to vibrate in an appropriate extent. As like all other sonants it is the same concept with the r where the tongue at the root is unburdened the correctly formed consonant is at the point of the tongue.
The “slovenian” consonant “r” needs a lot of attention because it is crucial for the understanding of the text and for the sound of the vowels that follow to perform it correctly. You do the exercise in that way that each r is performed as a many times repeated »rrrrrr« that is being stuck to the performance of the following vowel (for example »A«). At the beginning you have to focus on the softness of the tongue and the relaxation of the whole vocal body the articulation of the consonant “r” is intensified step by step.
Nonsonants are sounds of the smallest opening level. They are formed with a strong impairment of the air flow in the mouth cavity. Nonsonants can be voiceful (the vocal chords in the throat shake when forming them) or voiceless (here the vocal chords do not shake. Voiceful nonsonants are b, d, dž, g, z in ž, voiceless nonsonants are c, č, f, h, k, p, s, š in t.
I regularly organise vocal workshops with the title articulation of vowels and consonants.
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