articulation and expression vocal health n.
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Music can convey many different emotions. As you were asked to do periodically throughout the semester, you completed the Worksheet B, in an attempt to come up with a description or story to match the text. This is one way of learning how important it is to convey the words.

  • Song composers usually begin with a text and then set it to music.
  • Words are meant to be heard and understood. Therefore, the text must be clear, efficiently produced, and expressive. Physically, this means that the structures of articulation- the jaw, soft palate, tongue, and lips- have to be loose and available to respond to text.
structures of articulation
Structures of articulation
  • The jaw bone-the mandible- is shaped a bit like a horseshoe with long upwards portions at the ends; it hangs from the skull via ligaments and muscles.
  • The jaw’s muscles are most responsible for chewing. When singing, allow those muscles to relax and hang freely. This requires some concentration at first, but becomes easier with practice.
  • Two jaw elevators- temporalis and the masseter.
temporalis and masseter
Temporalis and masseter
  • Temporalis- located in the area of your temple and above and behind the ear. You can feel the action by spreading your fingers just above and behind your ear and slowly moving your jaw up and down.
  • Occupies most of the area above your ears and attaches very strongly to the jaw.
  • Fibers- some are straight up and down while others slant backward. This means the temporalis is capable of both elevating and retracting the jaw.
  • Masseter- located between the cheekbone and the angle of the jaw. It becomes bulky when you grind your teeth.
remaining jaw muscles
Remaining jaw muscles
  • Lateral and medial pterygoids- aid in side to side movements, jutting forward or backward; are active and passive muscles.

Since the jaw has a complex relationship with the larynx and pharynx, a displaced jaw is a problem. If the jaw is too far forward, or jammed open, the entire vocal tract is affected.

  • Ajutting jaw is unnecessary; it pulls the back of the throat forward, raises the larynx, and makes it difficult to use the tongue efficiently.
  • Opening the jaw TOO wide tends to close the back of the throat; it becomes physically impossible for the tongue to reach the palate so the consonants and vowels become distorted.
muscles of the tongue
Muscles of the tongue
  • The base of the tongue is attached to the hyoid bone.
  • The tongue is largely responsible for vowels and consonants and is composed of several groups of muscles.
  • Stylo-glossus: attaches to the skull and pulls the tongue back and up

Hyo-glossus: attaches to the hyoid bone and pulls the tongue down at the sides in the back

Palato-glossus: attaches to the soft palate and can either pull the back of the tongue up or act antagonistically to the elevators of the soft palate.


Remember that the tip of the tongue (front) and the blade (back) move independently.

  • Tongue tension- a flat tongue is different from a tongue that is pulled down intentionally. When done purposefully, the soft palate is pulled down along with it, pitch is poor, and tone is garbled.
  • American r! It’s a major problem because it totally changes the vocal quality; the tongue curls backwards.
  • Lips are a large muscular group that belong to facial expression. The muscles that form the lips come from the cheekbones, the area of the face next to the nose, and the area near the upper teeth and jaw. They form a muscle that encircles the mouth. These muscles are in a position to move the lips to create expressions like smiling, frowning, puckering, sneering, pouting, etc.
  • The lips along with the tongue are responsible for most consonants; therefore, they need to be flexible and free. Try singing a very fast song with tense lips!
face muscles
Face muscles
  • Group of thin muscles that have few or no boney attachments; lie just under the skin and enable us to express our feelings and emotions.
  • Is singing with a furrowed brow helpful?
  • Is singing with wide, open eyes helpful?
  • Do you think that facial expression can effect laryngeal position?

Tongue position, with some help from the lips, is responsible for shaping the vocal tract and creating the resonances that are known as vowels.

  • Regional speech dialects may effect the vowel quality- this is why it is useful to know IPA and be able to recognize a pure (think “British”) vowel sound.
  • Vowels can become distorted when the mouth and lips are exaggerated. Common misconception- vowels are made by the lips. Not true! Vowels live inside the mouth and are formed by the shape of the vocal tract.
  • Good articulation of consonants requires an efficient, coordinated movement of lips and tongue, with little to no action from the jaw.
  • The jaw needs to close ONLY for sounds such as [sh], [j], [ch], [s], [z], and [v].
  • All movements are articulated centrally, along the middle of the face (not out of the side of the mouth).
  • Voice and unvoiced- what is the difference?
vocal health
Vocal health
  • A singer is a vocal athlete- the voice is not an instrument that is packed up in a case and put away. How you treat your body directly affects the voice.
  • Physical exercise, good nutrition, a reasonable amount of sleep, hydration, and mental focus are some of the very important components in maintaining one’s voice.
  • Some medications may affect the voice; be sure to check with your doctor on whether or not a medicine could influence the voice.
important tips
Important tips
  • Hydration- divide your weight in half= number of ounces one needs per day. So, 130 lbs/2= 65 ounces of water per day (roughly, 2 Nalgene bottles). Try to drink at least 40 ounces of water per day. The average adults loses around 10 cups of water per day; most people need roughly 8-12 cups per day.
  • The water your drink during a voice lesson or concert will NOT hydrate you- you must maintain hydration before an event.
  • Exercise- pilates, yoga, weight lifting (within reason), cardio= a healthy body is a healthy voice.

Poor voice use- screaming, talking over loud noise, and CONSTANT THROAT CLEARING.

  • Caffeineand alcohol- every individual is different, but these substances are drying. If you consume alcohol or caffeine, do so in moderation.
  • Spicy foods and dairy- again, every individual is different. Do what works for you!
  • Hoarseness- a voice sounding a way that it does not normally sound. It becomes a problem when it does not go away. What causes it? Some examples are: poor speech habits, over-singing or singing too loudly, A/C, travel, dry climates, vocal abuse, fatigue, smoking, cold or flu, menstrual cycle
  • When to see a doctor? Illness (obviously), but if persistent hoarseness exists, book an appointment with an ENT.