The Position Of The Mouth (contraction Of The Muscles Of Speech)
What must my sensations be with the muscles of speech? How shall I
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.
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.