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On the Art of Singing$
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Richard Miller

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780195098259

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780195098259.001.0001

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Thinking Phonetically (Values and Pitfalls of the IPA)

Thinking Phonetically (Values and Pitfalls of the IPA)

(p.53) 17 Thinking Phonetically (Values and Pitfalls of the IPA)
On the Art of Singing

Richard Miller

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the notion of thinking phonetically when singing. Some vocal pedagogies maintain that there is one ideal position of the mouth and pharynx during singing, only minimally altered in changing vowels and tessitura, but they seldom agree as to how that is accomplished. For one group of teachers, that ideal position may be the lateral “smiling” posture of the mouth; for another group, the hung “idiot” jaw is the aim; for others, raising and distending the upper lip to achieve the proper “resonance.” In contradistinction to these viewpoints, greater emphasis is currently placed on the phonetic relationships of the speaking and singing voices, as well as the acoustic formations of phonemes. This chapter suggests that the chief value for the singer in thinking phonetically is not in the improvement of language sounds but in the recognition that the constantly changing postures of the vocal tract for vowel definition, represented by the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols, contribute directly to the timbre of the voice and participate in producing what singers term a “resonant” voice. Use of the IPA symbols requires the singer to view “voice production” in acoustic, rather than laryngeal, terms.

Keywords:   singing, mouth, pharynx, resonance, phonemes, vocal tract, vowel definition, International Phonetic Alphabet, resonant voice, voice production

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