Vocalist.org archive

From:  "Lloyd W. Hanson" <lloyd.hanson@n...>
"Lloyd W. Hanson" <lloyd.hanson@n...>
Date:  Thu Dec 7, 2000  5:33 pm
Subject:  Re: [vocalist-temporary] tongue problems

Dear Jeffifer and Vocalisters:

One of the difficulties that I find many students have with the /i/
vowel is that they, in effect, tend to close the throat behind the

Because the tongue is brought forward into the upper part of the
mouth such that its sides touch the back molars, there is less of the
tongue muscle in the pharyngeal space. The x-ray views of this vowel
show a small space between the tongue and the roof of the mouth in
the area between the back molars and the upper front teeth, and a
much larger space behind the tongue in the pharynx. The contrasting
sizes of these two resonating spaces create two overtone emphasis
which are the formants for the /i/ vowel; one high and one low.

However, many students allow the pharynx to collapse a bit behind the
tongue when singing the /i/ vowel. This reduces the resonating space
behind the tongue which in turn raises the pitch of the first formant
and the vowel tends to sound overly bright and thin. If the student
is encouraged to keep a feeling of space behind the tongue during the
/i/ vowel the more desireable frequency of the first formant will be
maintained and the /i/ vowel will have its true potential of being a
vowel rich in both bright and dark colors.

In this sense, the sung /i/ vowel is different from the spoken /i/
vowel because the spoken /i/ vowel has little or no concern with the
final color of the tone.

Lloyd W. Hanson, DMA
Professor of Voice, Pedagogy
School of Performing Arts
Northern Arizona University
Flagstaff, AZ 86011