Learning how to sing vowels well in all musical genres is essential. Vowels are the foundation of good singing as most of the time you are singing vowels! Vowels are the parts of a piece when air is actually leaving your lungs.
We’ve spoken about some of the basic differences between classical/operatic singing and pop singing.
One vowel where the pop style gives you a bit of leeway is the ‘ee’ vowel. ‘ee’ as in leeway ☺️.
In classical Singing the ‘ee’ vowel is a very pure ‘ee’. As we go up the scale, and navigate the passaggio or bridge, we have to cover our sound or narrow the vowel. Essentially we are creating enough space in our throat to allow the higher frequency vibrations of the higher pitch sound to come out without restriction, and not sound pinched.
Classic Low ‘ee’ vowel progressing to a high ‘ee’ vowel.
For an ‘ee ’ vowel we can open up by mentally visualizing the space created for an ‘eh’ vowel on the throat. The sound will sound ‘unpinched’ and still sound like a pure ‘ee’. This is not easy to achieve and requires discipline and mental focus initially. On the recording above, it just sounds like ‘ee’. You don’t even think of any other vowel when hearing it. However, this purity of vowel is achieved by creating the mental imagery and subsequent vocal space of ‘eh’.
In pop, as we go higher, the idiom allows for a less disciplined approach in regards to the purity of the ‘ee ’ vowel. That means you can make a sound that actually sounds more like an ‘eh’ as you increase in pitch. As you may have gathered by now, the ‘eh’ vowel is a lot easier to produce when singing higher notes. This is because the tongue is flatter in the mouth than in the ‘ee’ vowel, so there is more space which is needed for higher pitched sounds.
Part I: Pop low ‘ee’ vowel progressing to a high eh vowel that is a pure ‘ee’.
Part II:Pop low ‘ee’ vowel progressing to a high eh vowel that is a tending towards ‘eh’ but is acceptable for pop
Now throw in some reverb. This is what you would sound like with a microphone. You can barely tell the difference between this and a pure ‘ee’ vowel!
Pretty cool, no?
Don’t try and force a squeezed ‘ee’ vowel on your high notes when singing pop/contemporary music.
Instead, sing a mix of ‘ee’ and ‘eh’ and give your voice a break.
Do you relate to this? When you sing vowels do you have any challenging ones that you use ‘hacks’ or mental imagery to conquer? Looking for a post on how to navigate a difficult vowel or consonant? We’d love to hear from you!
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