Harness the power of your natural vocal percussion – urges Kim Chandler
Now for one of my all-time favourite technique topics – articulation!
A unique feature of vocalists is that we are the only musicians who combine music and text (lyrics).
Articulation is the power of the singer and why we are the focal points of bands.
The two main articulators are the tongue and the lips.
The Tongue: Small but Powerful
This important little part of the body is amazingly flexible and is incredibly strong for its size.
The tongue is critical in forming many consonants (e.g. ‘d’, ‘g’, ‘k’, ‘l’, ‘n’, ‘s’, ‘t’, ‘z’) and vowels (‘eh’ and ‘ee’).
I find that many singers I work with have two main tongue issues:
1. A “tide’s out” tongue – is a tongue that pulls back (retracts) into the mouth on vowels. To get the best acoustic result, the tongue tip should stay in touch with the bottom teeth for all vowels, i.e. a “tide’s in” position.
2. Tongue root tension (TRT) – a bunching of the muscles under the chin. When this is excessive it can create a “Kermit the Frog” edge to the sound. To alleviate this, do regular tongue stretches, such as poking out your tongue to full extension and holding for a 10-count (very attractive!).
The lips form the end of the vocal tract (tube) and therefore their shape can markedly affect the final sound that exits the mouth.
The lips help form consonants (e.g. ‘b’, ‘f’, ‘m’, ‘p’, ‘q’, ‘v’, ‘w’) and vowels (‘oh’ and ‘oo’).
Not only is it important that we understand what you’re singing about, but for contemporary singers there is also an important rhythmic purpose for making articulation crisp & precise.
Your articulators are the percussive element of your singing – enjoy them!
My Reactions To This Week’s Peer Review Vids
Tamara Kim – “What to do” (Original)
This is as good choice of style for you and you have a sweet, easy-to-listen to voice with a relaxed delivery. Do you sing in any of the many languages you speak? I do hope so! You might want to consider experimenting with singing with a slightly more relaxed larynx position (it’s quite high at the moment) as this will create a warmer tone. I’d also like to hear more light & shade and less scooping up to notes.
Brianna Jesme – “Secrets” (OneRepublic Cover)
You have a stylistically sophisticated voice, particularly your lovely vibrato, which is especially noteworthy because of your young age. It was also an interesting angle to do a cover of a male song like this with an Adele-like vocal delivery. On this point though, whilst it’s completely normal to emulate the artists we like, in order to make it as an artist in your own right, you’ll need to develop & nuture your ‘signature sound’.
Kim Chandler is one of the UK’s top contemporary vocal coaches. She has a busy private studio in London and her clients include well-known artists, artists in development, professional singers and other vocal coaches. She is a director of the British Voice Association, and is the creator of the popular “Funky ‘n Fun” vocal training series.