Consonant Formation – Overemphasizing

A vocal issue that has its heart in the right place is when a person “overemphasizes” consonants.  This seems to be mostly done as a way to improve vocalism through the process of diction and articulation.  While good diction is vital so that one can be understood, it is not going to cure vocal faults at the sound source.  If the vocal muscles are not developed and coordinated correctly, then the diction will be poor no matter what one tries to do as far as enunciation is concerned.  It is the free functioning of the registration plus proper vowel size and shape that allows for good diction. One does not have to try so very hard to be understood when singing.  To over-enunciate can actually cause problems as the too vigorous consonants not only disrupt the vowelled tone overly much, but can cause pressed phonation leading to misshapen vowels which in turn causes the vocal cords to overly thicken thus disturbing the pitch.  The voice is interconnected parts, so if one part is out of whack then the whole system suffers. Now, in certain cases, the repetition of consonants in an exercise, done with as much lightness and speed as is possible at the time, can assist the reeducation of the vocal muscles; moving towards the experience of freedom.  This is where some nice quick articulation comes in handy as a tool. Yet, one will notice that this consonantal aid is still dependent on the improved activity of the vocal muscles – arytenoids, crico-thyroid, and vocal cords. Persons used to singing with overemphasized consonants will often find it difficult to sing a repeated five tone exercise at a quick clip and stay in rhythm; falling behind the beat.  However, as one is able to sing a bit lighter, and utilize a quicker consonant movement that does not dig into the vowel, then the vocal muscles are given space to do their right jobs and attain the proper size and weight for the student at that level of development. The aid of attempting light quick crisp articulation, as opposed to heavy spitting of consonants, can be thought of as a “getting out of the way” so as to allow for the possibility of greater freedom. Then, as the registration and resonance adjustments improve, one will notice that articulation and diction improves without one having to do much!

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