Horn vs. Voice
I’ve run across quite a few hardcore jazz cats who think that the horn is a superior version of the human voice- in volume, range and more (I assume).
I can see where they are coming from, but I do not share this opinion if for no other reason than effective transmission of emotion and message. Though I’ll add… have you ever heard an opera singer in person? Or a full bodied soul voice live… two examples of a type of singing voice that has plenty of volume to spare. Their notes can cut thru the air like a Japanese knife. So it seems more like a preference than a fact - as some have presented it.
However, I do find the comparison of voice to horn very valuable. When a singer thinks of the mechanisms of a horn and then applies it the body, it can be a good way to visualize and optimize their internal , biological instrument.
First Consideration – Breathwork
The first aspect is Breath – sending enough air through their bio horn and at the proper velocity to match pitch and create the appropriate volume, is a skill that both singers and horn players must master. This is stage one, and I’ve outlined some starting exercises in a previous blog as well as even more exercises and details on https://www.pianogroove.com/
2nd Consideration – Mouth Shape
But let’s assume you have decent to great breath support going; the 2nd factor to consider is your mouthshape. It’s the opening to your horn – and if it’s distorted, or neglected (which is easy to do since we use it all day to talk, and don’t consciously pay much attention to it at all) than it will give a distorted impression to your note.
To work on this shape, vocal studies focus on using pure syllables and consciously optimizing the mouth shape to produce the crystal tone you are looking for in your notes. Here are the common ones used.
Exercises for Application
So my suggestions is to start with any scale and go very slowly and deliberately on each note. Go up and down using each syllable, holding for 4-8 counts. You can start with mmm, then go thru them in any order.
Really get conscious on your mouth shape. Sing into a mirror if possible. See how changing the shape affects the tone and start to find those positions in your mouth that create the sweet spot for each syllable.
I’ve given more guidance on each of these on the pianogroove forum. But if you’d like more guidance and help here, please get in touch. Questions and comments are welcomed. And for individual attention, please consider a video private lesson. Inquire here…