Sally Morgan wrote the book on contemporary vocal technique – literally. Sing Like You Speak™: Simply and Naturally. SLYS™ is specifically designed to restore the effortless vocal production that is natural to the human instrument making your singing powerful, joyful and free. Sally has been successfully training singers for more than 30 years.

Singing As A Rhythm Instrument
by Sally

My singing student Sharon is a drummer. However, her knowledge of drumming and feeling the beat has not yet translated into her singing.

I found this very curious until I realized that she was not using her lyrics rhythmically. She was not saying the lyrics clearly and precisely nor was she saying them on the beat. There was very little energy in how she sang the lyrics.

It’s amazing how much Sharon’s pitch and tone quality improved when she used the lyrics as a rhythm instrument. The improvements in pitch and tone happen because of the attention to clarity and precision of rhythm – plus the new infusion of energy. The she had to listen more closely and get deeper into the music.

The following is the sequence we used in her lesson to get Sharon thinking about the lyrics as rhythm.

1. Speak the lyrics in rhythm clapping with each syllable.
2. Speak the lyrics in rhythm clapping on the beat.
3. Speak the lyrics using consonants to define the rhythm.
4. Sing the lyrics using consonants to define the rhythm.

Yes, the rhythm is in the consonants. Vowels do not have a rhythmic function in singing. We sustain pitch on vowels but we do not create rhythm with vowels. As one of the Sing Like You Speak phrase exercises – commercial for your vocal technique – states, “I sing on the vowels but I get paid for the consonants!”

Consonants define our communication. Consonants are the action of our words. When used with an understanding of rhythm, they can also define the rhythm in a song.

Listen to Jason Mraz. He uses his singing voice as a rhythm instrument. Listen to how he uses his consonants to highlight the rhythm. Plus you can understand every word he sings!

It’s helpful to get to know the potential of each of the consonant sounds and their rhythmic quality. Play around with lazy diction and then over articulating. Careful not to distort your mouth movements when over articulating. Allow yourself a generous opening inhale to activate the low abdominal muscles that are the power behind your consonants.

Different consonants have different qualities. Not just sound quality but also tonal quality. Their percussive impact and use are also slightly different one from the other.

P’s are good to Pounce on the beat
B’s bounce on the beat
T’s articulate pitch well and end words cleanly
S’s get you through the beginning consonant to land on the beat with the vowel
K sounds are sharp
R’s bounce from the R to vowel
F’s clear the way for a strong vowel
M and N are softer more elongated consonants and yet when you listen to the Jason Mraz song he uses his N’s very effectively as rhythmic definition.

Check it out right now using these phrases from Fly Me To The Moon. Play around by varying the percussive use of the consonants. You will notice how the meaning of the lyrics morphs with your articulation.

Fly me to the moon
And let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars

There are endless variations to how you can articulate and punctuate rhythm. This means that there are endless ways for you to make the song purely your own.

Sing Like You Speak(TM) candle exercises thoroughly embed the muscle memory needed to use your consonants in a powerful way. Get Sing Like You Speak(TM) Power Exercises to learn how.

Have fun! Fill the air with your singing. Music is our best hope for a peaceful planet.