Scooping, and more
  • I have a singer who was long in habit of scooping the first note sung

    finally that subsided
    now there's a new problem (same singer).

    If the first word sung starts with a D (e.g., Domine), what I am hearing is nnDomine

    I have been calling a halt and saying (not naming names), no, don't do that (illustrating the problem)
    for those who are not doing it, this is frustrating
    and so far it is having only a temporary effect on the one who is doing it.
  • Take her aside before or after rehearsal, or have coffee with her at some time, and address this problem in a helpful and dignified and professional manner, illustrating the proper pronunciation. She may or may not be aware that she is doing it, or she may be doing it consciously for some reason or another (to establish the pitch in her mind, to add emphasis to the 'D', or some other reason).

    There are, of course, some African languages in which just such pronunciationss are normal. I once knew a priest whose last name was Mbuzi, pronounced mmBuzi. nnDomino, though, is not African and your chorister can surely learn to correct this error.

    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • .
  • jcr
    Posts: 60
    If this singer has been studying singing the problem may be in an inappropriate use of an often used teaching strategy. Singing teachers often use nasal continuants (m, n, ng) as a means to make adjustments in the "resonance" characteristics of the vowels that follow them. There are a few consonants that will benefit from this, but singers-in-training can be quite inventive in their misuse of much of what they hear in the studio. She should not need to use the nn hum prior to the "D" if she has a good concept of the vowel that follows it. Try her on Dah Deh Dee Doo Dah (Well, you get the idea) to clean up the consonants and reduce the nn clutter.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • My guess: maybe she's studying with a decent voice teacher. I use voiced consonants (m, n, ng) to anticipate another voiced consonant (b, d, g, respectively) for the purpose of "setting the pitch" with the hummed consonant. This is especially useful for less trained singers, and helps to quickly fix intonation issues in moving parts or even sustained or repeated chords. Also, useful for maintaining legato.
    If the choir is so good that this consonant gets in the way of ensemble, be grateful. If the acoustic so poor that is can be heard, well... ;^)
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,768
    As to setting the pitch, we were taught to "inhale the pitch"--that is, configure the vocal cords on the inhale so they produce the correct pitch when the singing commences. It worked.
  • I would not suggest taking the person aside yet. Not necessary, and could be embarrassing for the person. And, in my opinion, waaay too much time for what's a small, easily fixable problem.

    To prevent scooping, ask singers to begin a phrase with a breathy [h]. (Try it yourself. It will prevent scooping in amateur singers.) In addition, reinforce with a variety of exercises that teach balanced vocal onset. Adequate movement of breath during vocal onset = no scooping.

    To prevent the voiced consonant "nn" preceding "Domine": switch to a hard consonant, that does not involve the tongue, e.g [b]. Pronounce as "bomine" for several runs or even a full rehearsal. Call attention to what's going on, how clean the sound is, and how the 'nnn' has disappeared. Then, sing as "Domine."

    Also, you can alternate between "domine" and "bomine", back and forth.

    Alternate way to prevent the "nn" preceding "Domine": instruct singers to place their tongue against the back of their top row of teeth, and leave it their silently for 4 beats. Tell them to relax, shake out their arms. Do this 4-5 times in a row.
    1. Tongue against the back of their top row of teeth. Hold for 4 beats.
    2. Drop everything, relax body, shake it out.

    Then add a step:
    1. Tongue against the back of their top row of teeth. Hold for 4 beats.
    2. Say "Domine"
    3. Drop everything, relax body, shake it out.

    With amateur singers, you CANNOT simply say "here, do this." That's a waste of everyone's time. You must guide, step by step, the formation of the musculature and nervous system involved in singing. I would highly encourage anyone here to take a voice pedagogy class to understand the ins-and-outs of the voice, so that you have the tools to create effective exercises for addressing any of these (very common) choral issues.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,343
    One suggestion is to record her singing something like this, and then playing back the recording and say “are you hearing what I’m hearing?”
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • I never use this word but have to say, the people on this forum are.... awesome.
    Many thanks!
    Thanked by 2Carol StimsonInRehab
  • I never use...
    I have the same feeling about 'awesome' as do you, Mme. 'Awful' is far better and more potent, but for the fact that it has attained to a meaning that is the opposite of what it means. I put 'awesome' in the same category as 'no problem' and 'have a good one' (whatever the 'one' is that is wished to be good), and 'aaabsolootely'.
    Thanked by 2Carol francis
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,546
    I've been busted with the same tendency.
    What's happening is that the singer is prepositioning the tongue in back of the teeth to make the D, to the point that it occludes the air passage, and they're phonating before moving the tongue. One thing you can do is to have the singer inhale in the shape of the following vowel (a good habit in any case), and then immediately sing that vowel with the D (e.g., "Doh". ) Consciousness of where the tongue is is important, and believe me, this can take some time to eradicate.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • I have the same feeling about 'awesome' as do you, Mme.

    And here I was, Chickson, about to mention how getting the position of music director for the Anglican Use in Indianapolis would be an 'awesome gig' for you! :S
    Thanked by 2Incardination Carol
  • Tell me about the Indianapolis Ordinariate church.
  • It shares a space with the church designated for the diocesan Latin mass. (It has garnered the nickname of the 'Liturgical Ghetto'.) The community there has never been very large, but the gentleman who used to be musical director did a very good job - Palmer-Burgess and polyphony. He was later ordained as a priest to become chaplain for the Anglican Use, but he has since been relieved of all priestly duties. (I'll refrain from going into detail on that, since I'm sure the morbidly interested will be able to find out more about this tragic incident through a Google search.)
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • Ha!
    If the Ordinariate mass and the Latin mass are the 'liturgical ghetto', I shudder to think what kind of a ghetto that makes the rest of the diocese.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,933
    Is the sound of the prefixed 'n' audible to the congregation? It might or might not be.

    If it makes the singer lag behind others, one could address that by urging singers to sing the vowel at the same time.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • Funny, I've been teaching voice for well over 40 years and I've never run into this problem with a singer, lots of other problems but not this one. It sounds like a habit not unlike described above as searching for proper resonance or pitch. It would be very difficult not to hear yourself doing this as humming is very present to the singers ear. I wonder if they have a hearing problem and are over compensating for the scooping problem.