Five Simple Vowels: The Basis of All Singing
While there are thousands of vowel sounds in the world's languages there are only five important ones for singing in any language:
I, E, A, O, U, which are pronounced eee, ay (as in hay), ah, oh, and oooo (as in pool).
The vowels are not arranged in alphabetical order, but rather, in sound order, from the front of the mouth to the back near your throat.
"The vowels are arranged in sound order from the front of the mouth to the back near your throat"
The vowel i is pronounced eee in the front of the mouth
The vowel e is pronounced Ay (as in "Hay") in the front half of the mouth
The vowel e is pronounced Ay (as in "Hay") in the front half of the mouth[/caption] Say the five vowels in sound order and feel how your tongue, jaw and lips change to move the sound production from just behind your teeth to the back of your mouth. These same vowels are the only ones used in the solfeggio system of learning music: Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti and Do.
The vowel a is pronounced ah in the back half of the mouth
The vowel a is pronounced ah in the back half of the mouth[/caption] Next, practice in front of a mirror (or a mirror app on your iPhone or Android phone) and pay attention to allowing the sound resonate in the optimal area of your mouth. First focus on clarity of the vowel. Each vowel should sound distinct from the other. Next focus on sustaining the vowel. In other words, the purity of the vowel should not waiver if you hold the note for several beats.
"Clearly differentiate your mouth shape as an example to help the performers around you"
The vowels o and u are pronounced oh and Ooh (as in "pool"), respectively, in the back of the mouth
Paying attention to vowel sounds is something every vocalist should incorporate into practice routines. If you are beginning vocal lessons or have begun singing in an ensemble, you'll benefit from taking time regularly to ensure your vowel production technique is effective. If you are an experienced vocalist, not only re-visit vowel pronunciation occasionally, but also clearly differentiate your mouth shape as an example to help the performers around you. The visual information of mouth shape can communicate and instruct your fellow ensemble performers.
-Richard Gard, DMA