Monday, August 22, 2011

Your vowels are within you . . .

Clip art: 
In many religious and meditative traditions, vowels have distinct character, quality and (often incredible) impact. In spoken English vowels do retain some subtle phonaesthetic qualities, as noted in earlier posts, but nothing comparable to those that form the basis of the great chakras and chants. (Not even backward build up drill or Jazz Chants) This video provides a nice introduction to the central role of vowels in that context. (Here is a bit more "analytic" and almost entertaining presentation of some of the same concepts.)

 When we work with the concept of the "felt sense" of a sound, we are working somewhere near the other end of the intensity continuum from the settings of those vowels, but a rich experience of resonance and the momentary, conscious situating of the "feeling" of a vowel someplace in the body is essentially the same goal. Here is one case where today's (over)emphasis (in my humble opinion) on metacognition in pronunciation teaching may just be on the right track. Got a vowel problem? Try meditating on it.

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