Singing vowels correctly
Coaching internationally – I hear a LOT of different accents and pronunciations when it comes to general speech and the words we use. But did you know there is a specific, and uniform way to create your vowel sounds when singing? That’s right – there is a specific physical action we need to take to create a sung vowel sound, be it AH, or EE, or OO – there is a natural, and particular way to create these sounds.
First up – the resonators. The vocal tract, the nasal cavity, the pharynx – these are all ‘resonators’ because, you guessed it, they resonate. Now, unrelated to the resonators is the teeth, tongue and mouth – known as articulators as they articulate the resonance that occurs in your resonators. Beyond creating resonance in the resonance chambers throughout our heads, we also need to ‘articulate’ this resonance by positioning and shaping our articulators in a specific way.
For example, a correctly sung “EE” vowel, like in the word “FEED” is created by raising the back of the tongue and keeping the tip low against the jaw – somewhat like the shape of a playground slide. Try it for yourself – rather than trying to ‘pronounce’ and EE, simply make a resonant buzz behind your nose and naturally allow your tongue to take this shape – can you hear how easy that “EE” sound slides out? Bingo. That is the correct use of your articulators!
Now, AH, OO, AA, EH – these vowel sounds all have different shapes and positions where the tongue is concerned. Singing vowels correctly requires very delicate but precise control over your articulators so that we create an even, and consistent sound free of strain. Luckily for you, I’ve put together a super simple tutorial on creating vowel sounds in the right way.
Are you nailing your vowel sounds now? To keep it simple, here’s a super easy guide to help you practice your vowel shapes.
AH/OH – Tongue low and concave
AA – Tongue concave, but slightly forward
OO – Tongue BACK and lips elongated forwards
EE – Tongue like a slide, up at the back
EH – Same as EE, but relaxed in the middle portion
If you’re ready to power up the vowel shapes singing requires, you can book a session with me now.
Feel free to leave any feedback or questions below!
Kegan DeBoheme is Bohemian Vocal Studio’s resident vocal coach and voice expert. He teaches professional singing and voice technique to students all around the world and enjoys providing tutorials like this one on how to improve your voice.