Gimmie some tongue

June 10, 2014

Last time, we looked at the lip vowels, oh, oo, etc., and now let’s do the tongue.

(yes, I’m deliberately avoiding IPA)

So, ee, eh, etc., are tongue vowels.  Basically, you keep your mouth as it is for ah, and move your tongue so that the sides of your tongue are touching your upper molars, while the tip of your tongue is still just touching your lower front teeth.  This divides the mouth into two resonating chambers.

Important note:  the tongue has to move to create these vowels, but it still needs to be loose!

Try this:  sing a nice “ah” on a comfortable note.  Move your tongue into the position I described above, and you should get some form of eh, ee, or some such.  Keep it mushy, and don’t let the lips pull sideways – that’ll create tension!

The more space between the center of the tongue and the roof of the mouth, the more open the vowel.  Try sliding it up and down, forward and back, and find the right spot for eh, ih, ee, etc., all on  a single note.  These vowels can be completely clear, and still have the same basic quality and quantity of sound.  That is the goal!

You can actually use this to help loosen the tongue, by quickly alternating ah and ee on a single note.

If you sing an “eh” without touching the upper molars, the sound will be dull and tend to spread, especially when singing an ascending line.

Again, an important thing to remember in all this is that the tongue needs to stay loose, like raw liver (as Ellen Repp used to say)!

The goal with all this vowel work is to create sounds that are clear and consistent, so that the vowels are easily understood while the quality and quantity of the vocal sound stays the same.  When formed as I’ve described here and in the last posting, the vowels can stay clear and well sung throughout the range.


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