This is a public version of the members-only ArtistWorks Vocal Lessons, at ArtistWorks. Functionality is limited, but CLICK HERE for full access if you’re ready to take your playing to the next level.

These lessons are available only to members of ArtistWorks Vocal Lessons.
Join Now

Vocal Lessons
«Prev of Next»

ArtistWorks Vocal School Lessons: Working with Shadow Vowels

Lesson Video Exchanges () Lesson Study Materials () This lesson calls for a video submission
Study Materials
information below
Lesson Specific Downloads
Play Along Tracks
Backing Tracks +
Additional Materials +
resource information below Close
Collaborations for
resource information below Close
Submit a video for   
ArtistWorks Vocal School

This video lesson is available only to members of
ArtistWorks Vocal Lessons.

Join Now

information below Close
Course Description

This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from ArtistWorks Vocal Lessons. This is only a preview of what you get when you take ArtistWorks Vocal School Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

CLICK HERE for full access.
In any language,
there are different vowel sounds.
I've worked with singers in pretty, almost
all languages at this point.
And some of the languages you, maybe they
don't call them vowels but
they're still vowels in terms of the way
the body actually creates sound.
Anytime the vocal folds vibrate, they
create what we know as vowel sounds.
Now, let's take a look at the alphabet.
There are only a few letters in our
in the English alphabet that have that are
vowel sounds.
We've got A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y.
All the other letters in our alphabet are
Now, A, E, I, O, U, say,
a word that has an A in it, like cat.
So the sound of that vowel is [SOUND] but
the letter name is A.
What I'm getting across here is that just
because a letter is named
something isn't necessarily, the way it's
In this case, with the letter A, we have
several pronunciations possible.
[SOUND] is one, A of course, you know,
like same.
Those are the two main ones.
And those are called long and short
vowels, in case you wanna know that, or
have been taught it in the past.
The E can also be [SOUND] O can also be
I can be [SOUND] that's called the
cuz it goes from one vowel sound to
And the other, at the end, actually closes
the sound, and
in that case would be considered to be a
consonant, because consonant close.
You may remember my saying this in an
earlier lesson.
Consonants will close, and vowels remain
with the mouth
more open from the inside as well, as your
So, eh, is actually, the hard of the vowel
sound for that vowel.
And it can also be as in cat, so we have
same cat.
See or sit, S-I-T.
[LAUGH] What about the word I, like me.
[SOUND] It sounds like an [SOUND] this
us into something that I call shadow
So shadow vowels, there's two aspects to
First, there's knowing what the actual
sound of the vowel is in the context of
the word that you're singing.
These are our colors.
As a painter uses colors, we use sounds.
So these are our colors-sounds as singers.
These are the most important tools because
[SOUND] that's where the voice
is vibrating.
[SOUND] That's the voice vibrating.
[SOUND] That's the voice vibrating.
So when you talk about singing, we're not
talking about [SOUND] [LAUGH] there's no
those are consonants, it's all about the
The better you know the vowel sound, the
more on you'll be.
Cuz you be using them to express.
You'll be using sounds, not just notes,
but the sound of the note.
Not just the texture, but the sound.
What is that?
It's the vowel.
The vowel has the note inside it.
That's a physical fact.
And it, thus the way of, that way of
thinking of it,
aligns with how the body works, we'll be
getting more in to that in a little bit.
So, when you again, say,
what's [SOUND] it's not
[SOUND] want to know,
you can isolate it.
[SOUND] They're really close, I want.
I want
to know.
You sing vowel to vowel.
Shadow vowels influence the accent type
and I don't mean accent like, hitting a
note, but regionalism.
[NOISE] In any country, there's what we
could call regionalism,
so in America we've got different southern
accents depending upon the state,
and often those, the, the closer the state
is to a more Northern state,
the less Southern accent there is.
But there's many different kinds of
southern accents.
Then there's different northern accents.
And as I mentioned in the earlier lesson,
there's the middle of
the country has what's considered a clean
accent where they're,
it's not influenced by drawl, Southern
drawls, or New York isms.
[LAUGH] New Jersey those are often very
strong accents
that I would prefer not to mimic.
And, Boston has its own accent.
Then there's Canada, has, you can you
if you're familiar with a Canadian accent,
you can start hearing the influence.
But if it's a person who's a, who's a
French Canadian of course it's going to
be influenced by the language of fu, of
which has its own accent when speaking
English, [NOISE] and
a way of pronouncing words within the
context of French itself.
If you're learning to sing in different
capturing, by your ear,
the sound of the vowels is very, very
Shadow vowels, as a result are the sounds
that back the vowel that you're singing.
And in the earlier lesson when I was
talking about blues, and
gospel versus country.
Blues and gospel backs all the vowels with
an [SOUND] or
an [SOUND] also in country, it's more of
an [SOUND] or
an [SOUND] that's all the vowels that
they're singing.
There's that influence, and
that's very specifically what I mean when
I use the term shadow vowel.
Then there's funk,
fi, any kind of funk style, which has,
even though funk isn't a growing concern
in terms of current style of music,
you know, a lot of people including myself
still really like it,
and there's tribute bands and stuff you
know, that are, that are doing funk music.
But even some of the hip-hop artists are
actually using a bit
of a pronunciation that's coming from
So that's all [SOUND] is the backing
vowel that's used as the funk singer
sings through their range, and
depending on how sa, it's a sassy sound.
So that's what I mean by shadow vowel, and
this I hope gives you a further tool to
explore as you're both listening to other
singers, and studying what they're doing,
you'll be able to put your finger on, oh,
that's part of what's making their sound.
They're using this certain kind of shadow
But you can play around, please do, with
this yourself.
As you're singing songs and exploring your
own style.