Practicing certain vowel modification & diphthong combinations can dramatically improve the ease and comfort with which you sing particular notes.
When singing, you will often need a command of certain diphthongs in order to reduce constriction, bridge earlier and articulate vowels when extreme singing in the head voice.
Diphthongs are part of the answer to the question I often get from my clients…, “Hey Robert, I can twang in the head voice on the sirens and TVS workouts, but how do I maintain that compression and fold closure when singing songs?!” Once you begin throwing consonants and closed vowels around with lyrics in your singing, maintaining fold closure and minimizing constriction becomes a lot more difficult because consonants impede the air flow and closed vowels engage the constrictors. Great vocal technique responds inside of singer friendly, open vowels such as, “Eh”, “Ah” & “Uh”. Vocal technique breaks down and singers begin to constrict when they have to sing lyrics with closed vowels such as, “ee”, “oo”, “I” as in “sit” and “O” as in “hole”.
For the most part in my training at TVS… we have to learn to stop singing closed vowels (oo & ee are the biggest culprit) in the belts… when you sing a closed vowel in the high chest voice and in and around the Passagio, you will trigger the constrictors and get chokey!
If you are ever singing high in your chest voice and it keeps getting chokey… take a close look at the vowel your singing… is it an “ee” or an “oo”? If so, that is likely the reason why your constricting.
So how do we fix this? You learn to modify the closed vowels to their nearest open vowel cousin + diphthongs. The open vowel modification represents about 90% of the timeline of the note you are singing and the diphthong is just a hint, or even just the illusion of the closed vowel at the last remaining 10% of the phonation timeline.
The Phonation Timeline:
“ee” & “oo” will modify to the following open vowel / diphthong combinations:
Sing a closed “ee” vowel with the open vowel cousin + diphthong “Eh–ee“
Sing a closed “oo” vowel with the open vowel cousin + diphthong “Uh–oo“
* I have left the IPA alphabet symbols out to keep this easier to understand for readers.
How do you practice it?
Choose any note, some in the high chest voice, some in your head voice and sing “Me & You, You & Me”. Work on the above mentioned “Eh-ee” & “Uh-oo” vowel modification / diphthong combinations. So the drill becomes, “Meh–ee & Yuh–oo, Yuh–oo & Meh–ee“.
If you would like more information on this, there is a complete vowel modification chart that offers every combination of open vowel + diphthong modification available for singers in my vocal training system, “The Four Pillars of Singing”. The training system also clarifies all the singer-friendly open vowels vs the none-singer friendly closed vowels. I hope this helps…