Consonant Formation – Not Able To Articulate

A common vocal fault related to the overemphasis of consonants, is the inability to move the articulators – jaw, lips, tongue – so that consonants can be adequately formed.  What both issues have in common is a mechanical overproduced forcing of the vocal instrument to work.

When there is an overemphasis and heaviness of consonants, it leads down the road of vocal instability as it disrupts the vowel and vocal cords with consonants pressing and pushing tone out. This leaves no chance for a legato or smooth singing line.  Thus, choppiness reigns. Beauty is sacrificed by misguided attempts to improve intelligibility by overly enunciating.  Instead, one can work on proper vocal cord function and vowel size and shape – which frees articulators to do just enough!

Conversely, when one cannot articulate with consonants adequately formed, that is the sign of too much weight and rigidity.  The vowelled tone is pressed and pushed with too thick vocal cord activity for the given pitch. The result is a rigidity of the throat muscles that emanates outwards to all the interconnected parts, including the articulators. The product is normally a big sound that is impressive to some, but is not able to be understood.  It is almost like there are no consonants at all, or a distorted sound that is mushy.

Both conditions – “too much articulation” and “inability to articulate” – have a physical and mental push to them.  There is a making up of sound that is forced, either forced consonant or forced vowel. The beginning of a cure is to back off the volume, no pressing and pushing.  Embark upon an exercise process where there is quickness of movement with a lightness.

A caveat: just as singing can be “pushed,” there can also be a too “loose” and under-energized singing; having too little muscular involvement.  The ideal is a flexible firmness with consonants neither over nor under emphasized, and vowelled tone being neither overproduced nor breathy and emaciated.  Rather, as the closer and stretcher muscles are developed and coordinated, coupled with a vowel size and shape that is equal to the muscle adjustment for the given pitch, nothing is over or under.  We learn more and more of what it means to be “just right!”

Allen Rascoe

about the author

Allen Rascoe Allen has been enjoying singing since he was a little kid. He officially studied voice at ECU and USC. However, he ran... Read More