We have just appointed a new Deputy Musical Director. His first duty was to conduct the warm-up with which we start each session. (I’m not clear why or how warm-ups help you sing better, but actors and singers all seem to believe in them. I can see that at least they fulfil the social function of getting everyone — about 160 people at last night's rehearsal — to start focussing on a joint activity carried out together.)
The DMD surprised us by choosing for the very first exercise a “fully rolled r” (a voiced alveolar trill). “If you can’t roll an r properly, do a lip roll instead.” (That is, ʙ.)He continued to get us to work on non-English sounds or sequences. The next exercise went ŋiː ŋiː ŋiː ŋiː ŋiː.
Then it was an easier mɑː mɑː mɑː mɑː mɑː. Intriguingly, he described ɑː as a ‘bright’ vowel. (I’d have thought it was comparatively dark, but then I’m no synaesthete; and perhaps he was referring to the voice quality he wanted rather than to vowel quality.)
And so it went on, with the tongue twister red ’n’ yellow lorry, red ’n’ yellow lorry, red ’n’ yellow lorry, red ’n’ yellow lorry… and then finally bumblebee, bumblebee, all on increasingly complicated practice riffs up and down a succession of scales.
Fortunately he did not give us too much of the pseudo-anatomical articulatory nonsense we often got from his predecessor. Nevertheless, when calling for hard attack to initial vowels in the lyrics of one song he did mention that he needed a ‘glottal’ (i.e. a glottal plosive, a glottal STOP, ʔ), which he described as being ‘when the vocal cords are coming together very quickly’. H’m.
Checking vocal warmup techniques on the web, I find plenty more of the same sort of thing. Perhaps you are better able than I am to understand what might be meant here (under Tongue Trills) by
The d is what will give you connection from chest to head voice. The d tends to hold your vocal cords together through your bridge….
Does anyone seriously believe that an alveolar plosive could “hold your vocal cords together”? Why do they say such things?