If you’ve taken any type of pop vocal lessons, you have heard of phrases like: singing like you talk, speech-language singing, talk-singing…you name it, if there is a way to say it, it’s been said! But what the heck is it?
Simple, but let me help you understand.
How you speak is a direct correlation to how you will sing. Speak-singing helps dim the line between the two. In this blog, I will focus on someone who is speaking with proper cord adduction.
You pronounce a vowel in 3 specific places. Your mouth, your tongue and the muscles in and around your larynx. If one of those places is not pronouncing the same vowel your sound will be impure and will feel difficult to phonate as you move through your resonating cavities.
Let’s take the “ee” vowel sound as in the word see. In IPA the symbol for this sound is [i].
*Pronunciation of the speaking “ee.”
1) Open your mouth very slightly. Spread your lips just a little and pull the corners back slightly, as though you were going to smile. Your teeth should be almost touching.
2) Touch the back molars with the sides of the back of the tongue.
3) Put the tip of the tongue behind the lower teeth and arch the tongue up and forward. Continue to touch the rear upper teeth. Keep the soft palate tensed so that there’s no nasal emission of air.
4) Produce voice.
Now try this for the singing “ee”:
(Read all directions before attempting.)
1) Say the word “see” out loud.
2) Feel how you speak the “e” in all three placements.
3) Take a breath like you are about to yawn.
4) Right before you phonate take a brief moment and place the “e” on the top of the breath on an easy pitch.
5) In full voice, slur the speaking “e” up in pitch making sure that all three placements are in the “e” position.
6) Think back and down as you go up in pitch to remind yourself that the sound physically vibrates from your larynx and to stay supported and connected to your body.
This should be easy. Not hard. Do not phonate like you are singing, phonate like you are speaking. Vocal exercises like these are not meant to sound pretty. They stretch your muscles and expand your resonators.
Sing like you talk? It’s Bel Canto singing from the 19th century. It’s not new, it’s old, and it’s the best way to sing no matter what genre!