Any note that is held for any length in a phrase, and especially the last note of each phrase should have its target vowel spelt above it.
In my example above, the red dots indicate a held word, green double slash is a unit breath mark. You can see I haven’t marked every single word, nor shown the diphthong every time – too much marking can obfuscate rather than clarify things for the learner.
For each held syllable I’ve indicated the target vowel.I’ve also marked the following potential traps:
- where a note is held by some parts and moved by others.... target vowel must not move until you’re ready to hit the next note (or breathe), as in “say” and “clear”. Also, the holding parts must practice ‘spinning’ the sound and keeping the vowel fresh and bright;
- some words are sound smudges waiting to happen. “message”, “matter” and “ever” are the 3 in this intro. Each has a second syllable which if not learnt correctly will end up only semi-sung “messg”, “mattr” and “evr” – no target vowel in there, so we end up with nothing we can use to lock and ring, and a smudge in the vocal line. If we identify the target vowels as we are learning, we can hope NOT to fall into that trap!
- take note of big jumps in pitch. If they go up (as in “say” and “oh” for the basses) you must prepare mentally and physically for the upper note before you attempt to move to it – make the space for the sound first. You must also lift the top vowel, refreshing its shape as you move from note to note, where it is held for several pitches. If the pitch change is downward, sing the bottom vowel/pitch as bright and high as possible;
- work on the flow of each phrase, trying to feel a circular movement between held notes or over the phrase as a whole... kinda hard to explain! If you try and ‘direct’ your own singing, you’ll be less inclined to clomp evenly through sequences of words (like “message from my heart”).