Historical Perspectives: Witherspoon’s Eighth Lesson

Lesson 8

We know add one more vowel which is used much in English, AW, as in AWE, RAW, etc.

We now arrange the six vowels in two “FAMILIES” of sounds: AH, A, E and AW, OH, OO. They are closely associated with two processes of “CLOSING” vowel and tone.

The first series, AH, A, E, tends toward a brighter and keener sound, the mouth closing slightly on E, which is our brightest, thinnest vowel.

The second series, AW, OH, OO, tends toward a darker, softer sound, OO is our least resonant, least bright sound.

If we intermingle the two “families” we notice a little awkwardness, as from AW to E. But of course we must become proficient in changing from one vowel or syllable to any other.

Practice exercises 8, 9, 12 with the two series of vowels.

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If you have difficulty with OO, free the larynx with the HM or HUNG and return to OO.

If you have difficulty with E, vocalize with MING, with active jaw, on short scales, until you get a new concept of the E vowel, then return to E on the same exercises. The mouth may close slightly for E.

You must listen very carefully during your practice on this lesson.

The AH, A, E family of sounds feels wide and high.

The AW, OH, OO family feels narrower and lower or deeper.

The tendency might be to make the first series of vowels to “WHITE” and the second series too “DARK.”

This lesson demands much attention until you get an ever improving concept of each vowel in its pure form.

Exercises 1, 13, 15.

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Witherspoon, Herbert. Thirty-Six Lessons in Singing for Teacher and Student. Meissner Institute of Music. Chicago. 1930.


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