Singing Diction FAQ –
Tips and Pointers!

Diction is one of the basics of singing , apart from other voice training fundamentals like breathing, voice, pitching and rhythm.

 

 

Here on this webpage, I will lay out many tips that answer the FAQ (frequently asked questions) regarding how to shape our singing vowels, as well as how different vowels affect the way that we sing.

For those who wish to check out other singing tips and FAQ, do click on this link provided now. Feel free to also send in your questions about singing by using the ‘Contact Us’ Form that is provided for you on my website.

Ok, here are the various singing diction tips and related FAQ for your reference:


Question ONE:

How big should I open my mouth when I sing?

‘Your Personal Singing Guide’ says:

As a general guide, you should only open your mouth to a necessary and comfortable extent, to articulate your vowels and words, as well as to allow your voice to travel unobstructed.

I like to tell my students this diction tip, that they should open their mouth enough so as to allow one finger to enter and exit your mouth without touching your teeth or lips.

One important point to note is that when opening your mouth, try to relax it into the open position, instead of forcing it open with the muscles controlling the jaw and chin.

If you feel that your mouth is stiff or feels uncomfortable when you sing, you should try to perhaps relax it more and open it less, until you get used to opening your mouth to the extent that is necessary.

Of course, before you embark on any exercises on pronunciation, it is best to do some simple but important vocal warmups, so that your voice is well warmed up and you avoid any harm or abuse when singing.


Question TWO:

Why is diction important at all? Some singers don’t pronounce their words properly, and they are still so famous!!

‘Your Personal Singing Guide’ says:

Yes, there are many singers who do not pronounce their words properly. This is part of their style, and is certainly crucial to their image as an artiste and also to their livelihood.

However, as students of singing, we should aim to achieve good diction when we sing, because this is part and parcel of being able to convey the meaning of the song to our audience.

Also, having a good foundation in singing diction gives us a greater flexibility when singing, and allows us to choose how we want to pronounce our vowels when we sing.

Diction also affects the way our voice sounds to others, and may make our voice sound darker or brighter, depending on who we pronounce the words we sing.

When we perform though, we can choose to slur our words and to pronounce certain vowels in a slightly different way, to aid us in singing the notes or to achieve certain groove or feel in songs, especially for R&B or jazz songs.

These are choices that singers have to make to allow them to bring their personal style into the songs that they sing.


Question THREE:

Are there any exercises that I can do to improve on my diction and pronunciation?

‘Your Personal Singing Guide’ says:

Yes certainly, there are many exercises that you can practice everyday so as to improve on your diction flexibility and pronunciation ability.

For one, you can refer to the ‘exercises for vocal smoothness’ in this website, and vary the vowels that you use when doing this voice training exercise.

The vowel that i used in this website is an ‘AH’ vowel, but you can also try doing an ‘EEH’ vowel or even an ‘OOH’ vowel, and see how you can achieve the same results with different vowels.

You can also refer to the pitching exercises for singing that I have in this website, and make use of some of the basic vowels like ‘AH’, ‘EEH’, ‘OOH’, ‘EH’ and ‘OH’ to sing through some of the scales and drills there.

You can also try to vary some of the vowels throughout each exercise, and see if you can achieve the same sound after changing the vowels.

Another popular exercise you can try is to sing this: “Mah – Mee – Moo – Meh – Moh” and see if you can sing the vowels accurately and clearly, making sure the difference between the vowels can be heard.


Question FOUR:

Does my diction affect the way I sing and how I sound to others?

‘Your Personal Singing Guide’ says:

For sure, our diction does affect the way that we sound, and also the way our voice is heard by others.

This is because certain vowels tend to sound darker, whereas others tend towards sounding brighter and louder.

For example, the vowel ‘OOH’ tends to sound darker and rounder, and this is partly because our mouth shape when we sing this vowel is more closed than for other vowels.

Other vowels like the ‘AH’ vowel tends to sound brighter and louder, also partly due to the fact that for this vowel, our mouth is open and this lets more of our voice come out easier.

Our diction affects the way our mouth is shaped, and also affects the positioning of our tongue, teeth, lips, jaw and so on. All these things affect the way that we sound, and will certainly affect what others hear when we sing.

You may wish to check out some of these voice training tips in the back-issues of Your Personal Singing Ezine, the free newsletter that I send my subscribers every 6 weeks!


Question FIVE:

Is there a difference in diction when singing during a recording session, and when singing ‘live’ at a performance?

‘Your Personal Singing Guide’ says:

In a ‘live’ performance, a lot of things are spontaneous and the singer has more leeway to express himself or herself when performing.

This may include changing the pronunciation for certain words, changing notes when improvising, or even changing the tone of the voice when singing.

However, in a recording studio, a lot of things have to be pre-rehearsed so that the time in the recording studio is well-spent.

Also, in order to achieve certain dramatic effects in a song, the diction may have to be more pronounced so as to allow certain words to be more prominent and to stand out from the rest.

You would also have to watch your ‘b’s, ‘p’s and also ‘f’s in a recording studio, as these consonants usually cause a ‘pop’ sound when using a microphone in a recording studio.

The recording studio’s microphone and setup certainly will pick up much more of your voice and your pronunciation than a ‘live’ stage microphone may pick up, so you would need to be more careful and controlled when singing in a studio.


Well, I hope that these tips on singing diction and pronunciation have answered some of the FAQs that may have been at the back of your mind.

You can certainly send me your queries using our ‘Contact Us’ form and I will do my best to answer your questions either on this website or in a private email conversation!

You can also check out some good vocal training guidebooks and CDs by clicking on the link provided. Hope that they will be useful to you!

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