Easy Vowel Sounds for Singing

Harry Belafonte singing, 1954Image via Wikipedia
Anyone who has the faculty of speech is to a degree interested in having a clear vibrant voice. I would say that is because they want to be understood and secondly, the auditor experiences pleasure in listening. A vibrant voice is one that produces clear vowel sounds. Vowels are the only sound produced by the vocal chords that are fully vibrant.

A soft voice is one that permits the escape of unused breath during the production of vowel sounds. If this fault is quite pronounced, the voice is said to be “breathy”. If it is extreme, the voice is said to be hoarse. I’m sure you have heard these differences with singers.

No matter how light a puff of breath may be released through the opening between the vocal bands, careful listening will discern a resulting vowel sound, usually “uh” or “ah”. On the other hand, if in striving for power of sound, the controlling factor for pure vowels is simply achieved in the power of the voice. Volume of sound then becomes not a matter of effort but a reflex result of mental stimulus.

English words are composed of more consonants than vowels, with consonants usually at the beginning and end of each syllable. While all the vowel sounds can be produced without movement of the jaw or lips, this is not true of consonants.

Most studies of voice and speech are too complex for me.  So we know it’s more than just A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y. Sometimes turning to the dictionary can be more confusing rather than helpful.

Italian is a favorite language of singer’s because of its wealth of vowels but there is really more vowel material available in English. One can go into great detail analyzing the alphabet and distinguishing between true vowel sounds, diphthongs (meaning complex speech sounds that begins with one vowel and gradually changes to another vowel within the same syllable) and consonants.

I have found with the word “see” it is necessary to emit more breath to form “s” than is necessary in producing the vowel “ee” which follows. So the vowel must be the primary consideration in order that the mechanism of the throat will adjust itself to utilize every bit of breath passing the opening between the vocal bands during the formation of the vowel. The “s” sound by its very nature must be breathy while the sound following must be just the reverse.

When you pronounce “B” the vowel “ee” impounds in the throat by your lips pressed together and then released. When you say “D” the vowel “ee” impounds in the throat by the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth and released. And then with “F” the vowel sound “eh” is followed by an escape of air between the lower lip and upper front teeth. So yes, it’s very true that forming vowels properly will add character and color to the sound of your voice, especially your singing voice.


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Musicians and Their Food

Portrait Ludwig van Beethoven when composing t...Image via Wikipedia
 
Many of the stories told concerning famous musicians relate to their tastes for food. The coffee houses of Vienna as well as a large number of European restaurants have been the scenes where some of the leading composers have congregated and have seen the creation of a number of compositions.

Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and Johann Strauss, composer of the Blue Danube waltz, patronized the cafes and the ideas for many of their works, if not the compositions themselves, were jotted down in these surroundings. Rossini could write best when he was under the influence of Italian wine and sparkling champagne. No one can question that a large amount of German music has been composed with a stein of beer nearby, while mention of Grunzing (Grinzing) wine may be noted in various biographies of the masters.

Papa Haydn no doubt had food in mind when he wrote the Farewell Symphony as it would give his men an opportunity to return to their homes for a vacation and domestic dishes. In a letter Haydn mentions that he lost twenty pounds in weight because excellent Viennese food was far away.

Beethoven’s favorite dish was fish, especially trout and his favorite drink was fresh spring water. Moscheles was fond of oysters and figs; and in one instance he won an oyster-eating contest from a friend by making such funny faces at him.

Mendelssohn was a hearty eater and he was especially fond of the bread and butter puddings of England and of German sausages. Chopin, on the other hand, thought little of food. On his first long journey he wrote home that soups had helped to give him strength, to put him in excellent spirits. He started the day with a cup of coffee and began work the moment it was brought to him. He was so absorbed in his music that his coffee was often cold before he drank it.

Schumann was a plain eater and he was especially fond of pickles. Liszt found little that pleased him as much as bacon and eggs. Milk was the chief item of food for Wagner, who was a heavy meat eater in middle life but later became a vegetarian. While in England he spoke glowingly of the culinary art of the French people.

Brahms had a great likeness for coffee, which he brewed himself. His recipe for a cup was for as many beans as ordinarily would make ten cups! In those days composers were unable to find a sufficient supply of fresh drinking water and men were so fortunate that their wives provided them with hot water plates for the pleasure of the table.

I read that Balakirev, a Russian composer, once remarked to Tschaikovsky that Haydn was the genius of burgher music (middle class) because his compositions inspired a thirst for beer. It would be interesting to know what kinds of a thirst the works of other composers inspired in others.



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Learn To Play Nick Of Time by Bonnie Raitt

Nick of Time album coverImage via Wikipedia


One of my favorite songs is Nick Of Time by Bonnie Raitt. How about you?


Here are the chords.


Verse I
 -------
 Dm7      | Em7                   |
 A friend of mine she cries at night, and she
 Fmaj           | F/G |
 Calls me on the phone
 Dm7  | Em7                  |
 Sees babies everywhere she goes and she 
 Fmaj  | F/G |
 Wants one of her own.
 Dm7    | Em7          |
 She's waited long enough she says 
 Fmaj     |  F/G  |
 And still she can't decide
 Dm7    | Em7                 |  G#dim      | Am   |
 Pretty soon she'll have to choose and it tears her up inside...
 Fmaj        |  F/G               G     | C |
 She's scared...scared she'll run out of time.

 Verse II
 --------
 I see my folks, they're getting old, I watch their bodies change...
 I know they see the same in me,  And it makes us both feel strange...
 No matter how you tell yourself, It's what we all go through...
 Those eyes are pretty hard to take when they're staring' back at you.
 Scared you'll run out of time.

 Chorus
 ------
 Bb      |  F        |
 When did the choices get so hard?
 C                         |  C  |
 With so much more at stake.
 Dm7  |  Em7               | G#dim        | Am  |
 Life gets mighty precious when there's less of it to waste.
 Fmaj    |  F/G     G |  C  |  C  |
 Hummmm...Scared she'll run out of time.

 Verse III
 ---------
 Just when I thought I'd had enough
 All my tears were shed...
 No promise left unbroken,
 There were no painful words unsaid.
 You came along and showed me
 How to leave it all behind....
 You opened up my heart again and then much to my surprise.

     ||: I found love, Love in the Nick of Time. :|| 3x

 ||: Dm7 Em7 | G Am7 | Fmaj | F/G G :|| C
 http://www.cowboylyrics.com/tabs/raitt-bonnie/nick-of-time-2656.html



 You might also want to check some of my notes on diminished chords.
ladydpiano.blogspot.com/2010/04/diminished-seventh-chord-we-will.html


One of Bonnie Raitt's Cds is on sale!
The Best of Bonnie Raitt

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Chris Tomlin: Your Grace Is Enough

 
 
I love this Chris Tomlin song Your grace Is Enough. Do you have a favorite Chris Tomlin praise and worship song?
I've posted this song in several different keys. 
Chris Tomlin
 
Intro: G Em C2 (x2)


G  Gmaj7/B  C2
Great is Your faithfulness oh God
Em  D  C2
You wrestle with the sinner's heart
G  Gmaj7/B     C2
You lead us by still waters and to mercy
Em      D          C2
And nothing can keep us apart

     Am7        G/B
So remember Your people
     C2  D
Remember Your children
     Am7 G/B
Remember Your promise
C2
Oh God


Pre-Chorus Tab: 
Am7 G/B C2 D


     G  D
Your grace is enough
     Em  C2
Your grace is enough
     G  D   C2
Your grace is enough for me


G        Gmaj7/B  C2
Great is Your love and justice God
Em      D   C2
You use the weak to lead the strong
G     Gmaj7/B     C2
You lead us in the song of Your salvation
Em       D   C2
And all Your people sing along


Chorus 2:
     G        Dsus
Your Grace is enough
       Em7              C2
Heaven reaching down to us
     G        D          C2
Your Grace is enough for me
                G        Dsus
God, I see Your grace is enough
    Em7             C2
I'm covered In your love
     G        D          C2
Your grace is enough for me
    G
For me


(Pre chorus)

(Chorus X2)

(Pre chorus)

(Chorus x3)

(Key of A)

Intro: A A/C# D (x2)

A  A/C#  D
Great is Your faithfulness oh God
F#m  E  D
You wrestle with the sinner's heart
A  A/C#     D
You lead us by still waters and to mercy
Em  D    C2
And nothing can keep us apart

     Bm         A/C#
So remember Your people
     D   E
Remember Your children
     Bm  A/C#
Remember Your promise
D
Oh God

Pre-Chorus Tab: Bm A/C# D E

     A  E
Your grace is enough
     F#   D
Your grace is enough
     A  E   D
Your grace is enough for me

A  A/C#  D
Great is Your love and justice God
F#      D   E
You use the weak to lead the strong
A  A/C#  D
You lead us in the song of Your salvation
F#      E   D
And all Your people sing along

(Pre chorus)

(Chorus X2)

(Pre chorus)

(Chorus x3)
 
 
Artist: Chris Tomlin

* Your Grace Is Enough Ab

Ab              Ab/C           C#
Great is Your faithfulness oh God
Fm           Eb               C#
You wreslte with the sinners heart
Ab             Ab/C          C#
You lead us by still waters and to mercy
Fm             Eb          C#
where nothing can keep us apart

   Fm             Eb/G
So remember Your people
Ab              Eb
Remember Your children
Fm              Eb/G      Ab
Remember Your promise Oh God
         Ab         Eb
For Your grace is enough
         Fm         C#
For Your grace is enough
         Ab        Eb        C#
for your grace is enough for me


Great is Your Love and Justice God of Jacob

You use the weak to lead the strong

You lead us in the song of your salvation

And all your people sing along

So remember your people 
Remember your children
Remember your promise oh God

For Your grace is enough
For reaching down to us
Your grace is enough for me

For Your grace is enough
Im coming in your love
Your grace is enough for me, for me
Artist: Matt Maher


 Your Grace Is Enough - Key of E


Verse 1:

E                             A2  
Great is your faithfulness oh God
C#M         Bsus             A2
You wrestle with the sinners heart
E                           A2   
You lead us by still waters and to mercy
C#M         Bsus         A2 
And nothing can keep us apart

Pre Chorus:

   F#M           E                                                  
So remember your people
  A2          Bsus
Remember your children
  C#m         Bsus
Remember your promise
   A2  (xx A(on 5th fret)  xx Bsus  xx C#m  xx A2)
Oh God

Chorus 1:
   
E             Bsus
Your grace is enough
     C#M      A2
Your grace is enough
     E        Bsus       A2 
Your grace is enough for me
     E        Bsus
Your grace is enough
     C#M      A2 
Your grace is enough
     E        Bsus       A2
Your grace is enough for me

Verse 2:

E                              A2       
Great is your love and justice God                      
C#M         Bsus             A2
You use the weak to lead the strong
E                                  A2
You lead us in the song of your salvation
C#M          Bsus         A2
And all your people sing along

Pre Chorus:

   F#M           E                                                  
So remember your people
  A2          Bsus
Remember your children
  C#m         Bsus
Remember your promise
   A2  (xx A(on 5th fret)  xx Bsus  xx C#m  xx A2) 
Oh God

Chorus 2:
   
E             Bsus
Your grace is enough
       C#M              A2
Heav'n reaching down to us
     E        Bsus       A2 
Your grace is enough for me
                E        Bsus
God, I see Your grace is enough
    C#M             A2 
I'm covered in your love
     E        Bsus       A2
Your grace is enough for me   (x2)

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Bella singing


Bella singing
Originally uploaded by loopykd

How To Breathe Especially for Singing

One thing that I do enjoy is playing the keyboard and singing at the same time. In the past I have sung on worship teams but I'm up for the challenge when singing directly into a mike, occasionally looking at my piano hands and remembering to breathe!



Oh yes, the art of breathing has always engaged the interest of both singers and teachers of singing. I think this is because artistic singing depends so largely upon proper management of breath.



I have heard over the years many singers complain of shortness of breath while singing a song. I'm pretty sure this is a natural result of a lack of "breath control" or "breath support". So, let me explain further and try to clarify some of the problems of the use of breath in voice production.



We have 2 lungs and these are made up of 5 lobes. In a sense they're like air bags with no tract for air passage between them. Because of this, in chest breathing only the upper lobes are filled. You see the nerves and muscles of the torso act upon the lobes of the lungs so they function as five independent bellows.



I would say that one of the most important facts about respiration is that the lungs do not take in or expel air by any inherent power but only by the external power of the muscles of the torso.



To breathe properly, you don't need to try to breathe-in or to breathe-out the air. If the muscles of the torso move rhythmically, the air, of its own pressure, will rush into your lungs. Then we have the diaphragm which is a strong muscular tissue which is the floor of the chest box and it separates the lungs from the abdomen.



The sole function of the breath in voice production is to vibrate the vocal chords. I think the idea of managing the breath should be as far from consideration as managing the heart beat. Nerves and muscles are to be considered in the matter of tone support and not breath.



True vocal muscles should be developed by vigorous use in singing tones. These are the intrinsic muscles of the larynx. I practice rhythmic vocal exercises without words and afterwards with text. I like to begin with exercises containing the wider intervals rather than with single sustained tones. Try singing the scale up to the fifth and back. Start exercises with sustained tones with gently getting louder and softer with singing "ah" and then "ya-ha".



Now you're ready! Prepare to sing by standing erect (in my case I'm sitting with legs uncrossed) and gently expand the torso with a relaxed throat. Now expand at the chest line, front, sides and back and at the same time you're expanding the waist line, front, sides and back. The air will rush into your lungs without suction and proper intake of air will be accomplished.



I would say that you should never hold your breath preparing to sing any phrase. Sing immediately by spontaneous and fearless vocal impulse. Your mental attitude is most important in making tones with personal expression. So go ahead and... "breathe baby, breathe!"




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Amazing Love: Chris Tomlin, Newsboys

(de) Klavier, Tastatur; (en) piano, keys.Image via Wikipedia
I love the modulation lesson from the piano video tutorial on this popular worship song, Amazing Love by Chris Tomlin. Start this Christian contemporary song in the key of D and then play and modulate the key up one whole step, in the key of E. Listen for the transition chord...


Artist: Chris Tomlin
 
Verse:
D/F#    G    D/A                 A
I'm forgiven because you were forsaken
D/F#    G     D/A          A
I'm accepted, You were condemned
D/F# G                   D/A           A
I'm alive and well, Your spirit is within me
G           A                D
Because you died and rose again

Chorus:
D            G
Amazing love how can it be
D                              A
That you my king would die for me
D             A
Amazing love I know it's true
D                    A
It's my joy to honor you 
         G           D
In all I do, I honor you

Bridge:
D
You are my King
(repeat)
 
Chris Tomlin, You Are My King 
 

Worship Lessons on Piano with Ward Fenley, part 3 (Amazing Love/I'm Forgiven)

 
 
 

Verse:
E         A     Bsus               
I'm forgiven, because you were forsaken
E         A      Bsus          B
I'm accepted, you were condemned
E             A          Bsus         
I'm alive and well, your spirit is within me
   A        Bsus            E
Because you died and rose again

Chorus:
E              A
Amazing Love, how can it be
E                              B
That you my king would die for me
E             A   
Amazing Love, I know it's true
E                    B
It's my joy to honor you,
         A  B         E
In all I do, I honor you

Bridge:
E           
You are my King,
E           
You are my king,
      C#m   B   E
Jesus you are my King,
      C#m   B   E
Jesus you are my King
 
Chris Tomlin 
 
AMAZING LOVE (Key of A)

INTRO:

A  D  E  (2x)


VERSE:
A      D        E
I'm forgiven, because you were forsaken
A     D      E
I'm accepted, you were condemned
A    D                   E
I'm alive and well, your spirit is within me
  D         E              A
Because you died and rose again
(repeat)


CHORUS:
A                 D
Amazing Love, how can it be
A                              E
That you my king should die for me
A               D
Amazing Love, I know it's true
A                    E
It's my joy to honor you,
         D  E        A
In all I do, to honor you
(verse, then chorus 2x)


BRIDGE:
A   D      A
You are my King,
    D      A
You are my king,
      A          A
Jesus you are my King,
      D          A
Jesus you are my King
(chorus til end then tag 2 or 3 times)


TAG:
A        D  E        A
In all I do, I honor you


        
        
           Artist: Newsboys/Passion 
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