When practising a song, I noticed that it's easier to stay on pitch when singing vowels like "pa pa pa , la la la, etc." Why is humming or singing vowels easier than singing words? Is the issue related to "mouthing" or pronounciation?

PS: I naturally tend to sing flat and have thus been taking singing lessons for ~9 months by now.

  • 2
    Why not just ask your teacher? They can see & hear what you're doing far better than we can guess from text. It might be as simple as airflow/volume.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 13, 2020 at 8:08
  • I guess that it's a general phenomenon. I couldn't find any information on Google and thought that it might be a wortwhile question.
    – s-gbz
    Sep 13, 2020 at 8:15
  • Is your language tonal?
    – fraxinus
    Sep 13, 2020 at 19:06
  • No @fraxinus. The languages I sing are english, german & russian.
    – s-gbz
    Sep 14, 2020 at 7:58
  • 1
    I suspect it's largely a case of "how many things can you do at once." I can't even talk while playing cello, tho' many professionals can and do. I have seen pro singers who can play the entire accompaniment on piano while singing difficult music. So, starting with simple syllables and moving to full words is a matter of practice and experience. Sep 14, 2020 at 14:44

1 Answer 1


There’s a complex relation between resonance rooms and vowels:

Good singers have to learn to control and refine their vocal sound on a completely new level. They must learn to use the enormous potential of resonance with a new process in a targeted manner in order to produce volume in a relaxed manner and to articulate it optimally. In addition, they get to know a way to improve the intonation by means of selected vowels and to decide whether they want to merge homogeneously into a choral sound in an ensemble or sound out as a soloist.

Spoken words or lyrics are disturbing our sense for pitch level as we usually don’t speak like we sing.

A good response is crucial in order to minimize the risk of forcing. So far, resonance has mainly been conveyed through visual language and subjective perception.

There is a specific vowel-resonance diagram that clearly illustrates the complex relationship between pitch, vowel sound and resonance. With the help of the diagram it is immediately clear why some vowels do not "work" with certain tones. This knowledge can accelerate the learning process enormously.

Thus a singer can control the resonances with the vocal tract articulators tongue, lip opening and throat position much more precisely than normally. It is then even possible to use vowels in such a targeted manner that pure intonation emerges completely naturally and relaxed in the ensemble sound. By such training ensemble singers will experience homogeneity and harmony on a new level.


  • Added to this - some syllables are easier, some harder to sing on notes at the ends of one's range.
    – Tim
    Sep 13, 2020 at 10:11
  • Agreed - but there's an additional consideration… people often write [pop/rock/modern] songs to fit their own personal [or known artist's] vocal capabilities. Copying those can often require a similar natural capability, or one that exceeds the original singer.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 13, 2020 at 10:16
  • Personally, if you give me a Bowie, Elton John or Hollies song, I can do it almost without thinking. Gimme Kings of Leon & I have to sing "up" to that vocal style, with the almost yelled edginess. Gimme Liam Gallagher & I have to sing "down" to get how he misses notes & tunes weirdly.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 13, 2020 at 10:20

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