The Position Of The Mouth (contraction Of The Muscles Of Speech)

What must my sensations be with the muscles of speech? How shall I

control them?

The best position of the mouth, the means of securing the proper use

of the muscles of speech and of the vocal organs, is established by

pronouncing the vowel [=a], not too sharply, in the middle range of

the voice, and trying to retain the position of the muscles after the

sound has ceased.

This ca
not be done without a smiling position of the mouth,

consequently with a strong contraction of the muscles of the mouth,

tongue, and throat, which can be felt to be drawn up as far as the


In doing so the tongue--as far as the tip--lies of a pretty nearly

even height to the back, the soft palate soars without

arching, but rather somewhat depressed over it.

In pronouncing the vowels [=a] and [=e], the bright vowels, the

full stream of the breath, in the given position, can only partly pass

between the tongue and the palate. The other part is forced--unless

the larynx stands too high and can choke it off--above the palate into

the nasal cavities, to seek its opportunity for resonance.

The path for [=a] and [=e] above the palate is worthy of all

attention as a place for the overtones of the middle voice. If the

soft palate, in the lower middle tones, is forced too far toward the

hard palate, the covered tones are without vibrancy. One must needs

secure the help of the nose especially, when the palate is sunk

beneath the nose, by inflating the nostrils and letting air stream in

and out of them.

I repeat the warning, not to force several tones upon the same

resonating point, but to see that upon each tone the form necessary

for succeeding tones is prepared. Neglect of this will sooner or later

be paid for dearly.

Notwithstanding the strong muscular contraction that the vocal organs

must undergo in pronouncing the vowel [=a], the breath must be able

to flow gently and without hindrance through its form, in order

completely to fill up its resonance chambers. Again, and always,

attention must be given that in singing, and in speaking as well,

nothing shall be cramped or held tense, except the pressure of the

breath against the chest. It is of the utmost importance to maintain

this position for all vowels, with the least possible perceptible


How can this be done? A and e are bright vowels, must be sung with

a pleasant, almost smiling, position of the mouth. U and o, on the

contrary, are dark vowels, for which the lips must be drawn into a

sort of spout. Look at the position of the throat in these vowels: (1)

as they are usually sung and spoken; (2) as I feel it, in singing, as

I sing them, and as they must be sung and felt.