Choral Consonants: Developing a Balanced Approach to Articulation and Resonance

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Laino, Allan Zester
Maclary, Edward
Much attention has been given to vowels in both singing and choral pedagogy. The relationship between consonants and the singing voice has not been addressed as thoroughly. This is evidenced by the prevalence of choral vocalizations that target proper vowel production but lack careful consideration of consonants. While a bias toward vowels may be appropriate, given that they are prolonged in singing and consonants generally are not, highlighting their coexistence rather than the dominance of one could lead to better use of the complete instrument. The purpose of this study is to devise strategies for collegiate choirs that develop complete facility of articulation. A review of past and present trends in vocal pedagogy literature will highlight important viewpoints regarding consonant production that serve as a foundation for the development of exercises. A review of choral pedagogy literature will reveal the need for practical exercises that allow for a balanced approach to articulation and resonance. The final section contains choral exercises that may be implemented into the warm-up period of a typical collegiate choir. Most of the exercises are derivatives of well-established exercises proven to be useful for the development of choral tone. They contain transcriptions of recommended phonemes, concise explanations of guiding principles, and suggestions for pedagogical procedures. The collection is presented as a progressive study that targets specific consonant-related issues. By incorporating various consonant and vowel combinations into exercises, issues that are typically handled on a case-by-case basis while working on repertoire are encountered during the warm-up period where they can be used as technique-building devices.