Transcript

 
 

Articulation and Resonance

 

Having great soft palate focus in your voice and understanding how your vocal cords and resonant chambers work to create and reverberate sound is useful foundation for the second component: Articulation.

The lips, teeth and tongue work together to alter the sound waves after they’ve left the vocal cords.

We call these our articulators.

Using the lips, the teeth, and the tongue together in different relationships allow us to craft identifiable vowels and consonants.

As with any physical action, concise and controlled motions are going to afford you more agency.

The tongue is an incredibly athletic partner in the articulation of language and sound.

Eight interwoven muscles that can be exercised to ensure that that the tongue is nimble and can be put into action when we are speaking, especially if the words are difficult to pronounce or we have to speak for a lengthy amount of time.

When we get tongue tied, smear consonants together or drop the occasional nonsense word it is often because we don’t have control over our articulators, mainly the tongue.

But you probably never think about what your tongue, lips, and teeth actually feel like when you're speaking.

So let’s pinpoint those areas.

One of the best ways to direct some consciousness to your articulators, believe it or not, is by practicing tongue twisters.

I won’t be covering the clinical approach to the interaction between our articulators, instead we will be exercising and observing them in action to begin to understand how to improve our use of them

We will quickly discover whether we have command of our articulators when we attempt tongue twisters.

We have all been frustrated when talking with someone or listening to a lecturer that mumbles. Especially after they’ve already gotten us interested in what they trying to communicate.

Working tongue twisters regularly is an easy and effective way to correct sloppy speech, and is especially useful for ESL speakers to begin to exercise regions of the mouth that their native language may not utilize in the same way as we do in English.

Think of these exercises as a way to increase the accuracy and agility of your articulation.

I want you to try this one, and really pay attention to what each articulator is doing to make the vowels and consonants.

 

The first one we will try is RED LEATHER, YELLOW LEATHER, YELLOW LEATHER, RED LEATHER

 

Please say the first phrase RED LEATHER with me.

Together. Ready?

And, RED LEATHER

 

Again, and, RED LEATHER.

 

Pause here and really feel and picture your articulators as they give shape to these two words.

Here is a general description of what is happening.

RED starts with the lips for the R, then an open mouth, flattened tongue and lifted soft palate for the EH, and ending in a hard pressed tongue to the alveeolar ridge just behind the teeth for the D, then an upward curled tongue conta cting the alveolar ridge for the L, then an open mouth, flattened tongue and lifted soft palate for the EH again, then tongue forward between the teeth  for the TH and returning to the lips forward and tongue curled up inside the mouth for the ER.

The goal here is first to feel, and then to exercise control over each word, concentrating on using your whole mouth to wrap around each syllable with specificity.

Let’s say the whole tongue twister with me as you observe the action of your articulators.

 

Together, ready?

And,

 

RED LEATHER, YELLOW LEATHER, YELLOW LEATHER, RED LEATHER.

 

Again

 

RED LEATHER , YELLOW LEATHER, YELLOW LEATHER, RED LEATHER.


A good tip here is to purposefully overuse your lips.

Exaggerate and wrap your lips around the shape of each sound.

When you exaggerate the role your lips and tongue play in shaping a sound, it feels like you are twisting your entire face around a word, and feels extreme, but the movements are actually quite small, and your listener won’t see this additional attention to using your articulators.

They will certainly hear it though!

You may want to make a note to try and use your lips more in everyday speech to see if you can feel an improvement in your speech clarity.

Always make sure to get a full range of motion in moments where clarity really counts.

 

Let’s try another one.

 

RED RUGGED RUBBER BABY BUGGY BUMPERS

 

I’ll say that more slowly.

 

RED    RUGGED    RUBBER    BABY    BUGGY    BUMPERS

 

Now together, Ready?

And,

 

RED RUGGED RUBBER BABY BUGGY BUMPERS

 

Again,

And,

 

RED RUGGED RUBBER BABY BUGGY BUMPERS

 

This tongue twister adds the exercising of which articulators?  

The B sound, the hard contact of the lips followed by an explosive vowel sound.

You can choose any tongue twister that you like. Challenge yourself.

The best way to exercise your articulators is to repeat the tongue twister four to five times at a speed where you are challenged, but can be understood.

In the beginning you may find that your ability to shape the words in the tongue twister of your choice begins to break down after 4 to 5 repetitions.  

Now, some twisters are meant to be said once like-

 

YOU NEED NEW YORK, UNIQUE NEW YORK, YOU KNOW YOU NEED UNIQUE NEW YORK

 

By practicing regularly you will find that your ability to articulate will improve pretty quickly.

It’s a lot like stretching, if you do it everyday you will begin to see marked improvement and full range of motion.

I’m serious, practice them.

Now here’s a sponsor message to reward you for all your hard work

Now that we have covered two basic components of vocal production, soft palate focus, and the articulators, and we’ve gotten in exercises to better understand them both, let’s now begin to look at ways the voice is expressed and defined.

I’m going to take us back to something we mentioned earlier: Resonance.

When we vocalize the sound waves we produce reverberate in the body.

With training the voice can be directed to resonate in many chambers and cavities.

We are going to focus on the two that are most common and immediately accessible: The chest cavity and the sinus cavity.

You have likely heard a person’s voice described as thin.

(Thin voice) That would sound like this.

You may also be familiar with what is called a full voice

(Full Voice) That would sound like this.

I want you to consider what feelings and thoughts you typically associate with each of these vocal varieties.

(Thin Voice) What does a thin voice evoke?

(Full Voice) What does a full voice evoke?

Keep in mind that the descriptions full and thin do not hinge on pitch. A high voice can be thin, and a high voice can full.

A low voice is often fuller, but a low voice can sometimes be thin as well.

The difference between a full voice and a thin voice is resonance.

A full voice resonates in the chest cavity and sinus cavities, creating a strong full bodied sound that can be projected and fill a room.

A thin voice has very little resonance, and therefore feels close and contained.

A thin voice also requires strain to become louder, raising volume in what could be perceived as a shout.

Full resonant voices are interpreted as strong, confident and put the listener at ease.

A listener will link a resonant voice with command of the material being discussed while thin, nonresonant voices are often perceived as less secure, meek, uncertain, or strained.

Everyone’s voice is different.

Your speaking voice may be higher pitched, or it may be lower pitched.

We want to do a little self exploration, experimenting with pitch and resonance, to determine what we can do to ensure our voice is easy to listen to, projects out, and conveys confidence, security and power.

To help with this, we’ll return to the open mouthed hum with the back of the tongue lifted up into the soft palate.

Lets use that HUNG sound  for five seconds on a low pitch.

Like this  (Low) HUNG.

Now together, Ready?

And,

HUNG

Now once more, and again pay close attention to where you feel vibration.

Do you feel it in the top of your head? Your face? Your throat? Your chest?

Let’s repeat, and this time on a high pitch, like this.

 

(High) HUNG.

 

Now once more, and again pay close attention to where you feel vibration.

Do you feel it in the top of your head? Your face? Your throat? Your chest?

Higher pitches resonate in the sinuses and head and is often called a head voice while Lower pitches are going to resonate more in the chest.

But with a little practice you can move that resonance around.

Remember when we first started with the closed lipped hum and we moved the vibratory focus from behind the lips to the back of the mouth?

This shifting of vibration can be done throughout the body with your sound.

Your target is to find the range that will be most engaging for your listener, and I’ll reiterate that a lower pitched resonant voice will give the impression of confidence and command of subject material.

If you have a higher pitched voice, you may consider dropping your pitch.

No matter what pitch your voice is speaking at, you may want to modulate up and down in pitch to bring variety  and vibrance to your speaking voice.

You can exercise your lower pitches with the open mouthed hum and encouraging the chest resonance to increase.

In the course of my work I’ve found that listening to high thin voice over a duration of time can be more labor intensive for the listener or audience.

You want to create an atmosphere where it is pleasant to listen to you.

What we are trying to do if find the best reverberation to add strength and fullness to the way you naturally speak.

The shifts will be a little different for everyone.

In general, finding your natural chest voice that resonates in the torso is a great baseline for a speaking voice.

Some the most revered voices in modern time exhibit a vocal production that reverberates in the sternum, which can produce a truly heavenly sound.

You might want to try and direct your vocal vibrations there first.

Place your hand on your chest or the top of your head to feel the sound reverberating in your bones or cranium.

The exercise of humming sound, whether in a closed lipped hum or a hum closed off at the soft palate, and attempting to send that humming reverberation around into other parts of you body, bones in the chest,back or even lower into your limbs, is an interesting way to begin to explore expressing sound in resonance.

Once you feel like you have this down, add a few spoken words and phrases into the mix to practice speaking with resonance and with soft palate focus.

Go back and forth, resonanting your voice toward the sinuses and back down to the chest.

It’s worth examining what feelings are evoked by hearing your voice in these different variations.

If you find the sound to be a major change from how you usually speak the thought of adopting that change can feel a little daunting, but with practice you will find a zone in which you feel comfortable.

Even those that already possess a naturally strong vocal presence can benefit from fine tuning their resonance and placement.

And remember, the stronger the diaphragmatic support the easier it’s going to be to get the resonance down in your chest.

Before we leave this episode, I want to build upon Stance. You will recall that we discussed a wide basic stance in our last episode.

Vocal pitch can also be lowered by how we hold our frame.

Your voice matches your body.

A wide full stance is conducive to producing a pitch at the lower part of your range.

A narrow stance will be conducive to a voice pitched at the higher part of your vocal range.

The practice of a well placed voice, clear articulation, and awareness of resonance and pitch modulation together set you up to allow a more powerful voice that can be enhanced by the stance of your body.

While using stance as a way to support the voice is not a shortcut for well developed vocal production, practicing a basic to wider stance will utilize the body’s frame to produce lower, fuller, more confident sounds.

Many times I will have a client that will counterbalance their body with a wider stance and their vocal production will undergo a powerful and surprising readjustment.

This is also applicable to the seated frame.

Legs wide apart feet flat on the floor is going to feel a lot different when speaking than one leg crossed tight over the other with a narrowed frame.

Try alternating back and forth between the two while seated to get an idea of how this affects your body.

While I have been advocating for a lower, fuller,more resonant voice, there are also interactions that require a more contained and quiet voice.

Remember that a narrow stance or a ¼ turn can also begin to support a different vocal choice that full front, wide stance, full voice.

While you are practicing your voice and stance it’s a good opportunity to practice a few tongue twisters.

I encourage you to pay attention to your voice as an instrument that is not isolated only in the vocal cords, but truly a tool that ecompasses the whole body.

 

RECAP

 

The articulators, the lips the teeth and the tongue allow you to craft sound into separate intelligible syllables.

The more awareness and control you have over the articulators the better you will be able to pronounce and enunciate with clarity.

Tongue twisters are a great way to exercise these articulators, the more you practice the more control you will be afforded.

It’s a good idea to give your articulators a warm up after you’ve warmed up your voice.

It doesn't take long and is a good preventative measure against falling into sloppy speech when it counts.

Resonance is the reverberation of sound in different cavities of the body, and full resonance is essential to having your voice carry in a room.

You will find that at different pitches your voice will resonate in the chest, the head or the sinuses.

Resonance is the difference between a full and a thin sounding voice.

Pitches at the lower end of your speaking range will resonate more in the chest than higher pitches, but remember that with some practice you can move some of that resonance around.

The goal is to modulate your pitch and increase resonance in a combination that will be most pleasant for you listener, especially if they will be listening to you for a long time.

I advocate that you start with a pitch at the lower end of your range and focus on resonating the voice from the sternum.

That’s a good place to start.


 

Tongue Twister Bonus round


 

TWENTY TWO TULIPS TWIXT THE TWILL

 

TWENTY TWO TULIPS TWIXT THE TWILL

 

SIX SHINING SOLDIERS

 

SIX SHINING SOLDIERS

 

SHE SELLS SEA SHELLS BY THE SEA SHORE

 

SHE SELLS SEA SHELLS BY THE SEA SHORE

 

PETER PIPER PICKED A PECK OF PICKLED PEPPERS

 

PETER PIPER PICKED A PECK OF PICKLED PEPPERS

 

THEOPHILUS THISTLE THE SUCCESSFUL THISTLE SIFTER IN SIFTING A SIEVE OF UNSIFTED THISTLES, THRUST THREE THOUSAND THISTLES THROUGH THE THICK OF HIS THUMB

 

THEOPHILUS THISTLE THE SUCCESSFUL THISTLE SIFTER THRUST THREE THOUSAND THISTLES THROUGH THE THICK OF HIS THUMB

 

I AM NOT A PHEASANT PLUCKER I’M A PHEASANT PLUCKER’S SON BUT I’LL BE PLUCKING PHEASANT WHEN THE PHEASANT PLUCKER’S D ONE.

 

To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock,

In a pestilential prison, with a life-long lock,

Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock,

From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!

To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock,

In a pestilential prison, with a life-long lock,

Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock,

From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!

A dull, dark dock, a life-long lock,

A short, sharp shock, a big black block!

To sit in solemn silence in a pestilential prison,

And awaiting the sensation

From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!