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What Is Articulation?

Overview

  • What articulation is and why it is important
  • The function of the articulators and related muscles
  • Why the larynx needs to “float”

Dimension Six: Articulation

Articulation refers to diction.

Improving articulation is important because it will help you:

  • Pronounce lyrics more accurately
  • Improve the emotional connection with your audience
  • Intentionally stylize your delivery

Anatomy of Articulation

Articulation is dependent on the articulator muscles, which can be broken down into three muscle groups: tongue, jaw and lip.

The Articulator Muscles

  • Tongue articulators – manipulate the shape and position of the tongue (superior longitudinal, inferior longitudinal and transverse, and surrounding muscles: palatoglossus, styloglossus, hyoglossus, genioglossus and geniohyoid).
  • Jaw articulators – open and close the jaw (mastacian and mandibular depressors: temporalis, deep and superficial masseter, stylohyoid, digastric, mylohyoid, platysma and pterygoid).
  • Lip articulators – stretch, relax and modify the position of the lips (orbicularis oris and the surrounding expression muscles: levator oris and superioris, zygomaticus major and minor, depressor oris and inferioris, risorius, buccinator and mentalis).

How do the Tongue, Lips, and Jaw Articulators Affect Articulation?

  • The greater the coordination is for articulation, the easier it is to pronounce the lyrics, regardless of the volume and pitches being sung
  • Efficient use of the articulators allows for a tension-free environment to better express the melody and avoid disruption of intended tone
  • The more independent the muscles of the tongue, lip and jaw are of each other, the more subtle adjustments can be made to fine-tune the sound leaving your instrument

Why Your Larynx Needs to Float

The larynx, located at the top of the trachea, is suspended from the muscles above it. These muscles primarily consist of the tongue and jaw articulators, which means the position and movement of the tongue and jaw will often affect the position of the larynx itself. As a result, any tension or unwanted stress in the articulator muscles can cause unintentional tonal sounds, as well as general vocal fatigue. In order to express desired tones and lyrics that are comprehensible at the same time, it is vital that the larynx is able to “float” and be free to move.

Activity

Find a favorite “tongue twister”, such as “Sally sells seashells by the seashore…“, and sing it with a familiar melody or scale as quickly as you can without losing clarity of the words:

What did you Learn?

  • How articulation affects your singing
  • The three groups of articulators and what they do
  • Why the larynx should not stay in one position

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