Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Articulation: Got too much?

OK, so there's a downside to too much articulation. If you "grab" your words too strongly, you will be perceived as:

  • Angry
  • An amateur
  • Insincere (I think it was Shakespeare who wrote "Me thinks he protesteth too much")

Truly over-pronounced words will also cause tongue and jaw tension. You don't want that because it limits your control, tone and range. That's a good way to know your diction has crossed the line.

Here are some tips to help balance the crispness of your articulation:

  1. Give your jaw some flexibility. A slight sideways or circular chewing motion, if not overdone, can free things up marvelously.
  2. Concentrate on communicating with your eyes. That usually helps keep over-pronouncing under control.
  3. BIG TIP: Try singing only on the vowels. Yes this will feel silly, but I think we covered how "silly" can cause miracles in a post not long ago. Notice how much more resonance and range you can muster without the consonants. Now very lightly use the consonants again. Then, make the words feel more normal in your mouth.
  4. Use the consonants and lose them... quickly let go. Think of a throwing a baseball... if you hold on too long you're in trouble.
  5. Record yourself and see if you believe yourself. Be honest <:
  6. Listen to masterful vocalists (a bit of rhythm & blues or soft jazz wouldn't hurt, Emmy Lou Harris is a great example in the country genre) who are clear but don't sound like they are dictating something. "Mime" a song with such an artist, trying to copy their style.

Here is a link to a performance by Jane Monheit, one of the country's hottest jazz artists. You might find it interesting to study how she uses words but doesn't over use them. Notice the life in her eyes. Note... don't be put off by the jazz genre if that's not what you're into. These concepts will work for ANY kind of music.


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