How can you make your words clearer when you sing/rap? (I Imagine they'd both fall under the same category)

When a song is simple words and long vowel sounds I'm not noticing a problem, but when I attempt more dense multisyllabic based songs (like in musicals) I find that my words slur, and the consonants seem too weak. It's perticularly prominent when I'm singing the REM song listed below.


R.E.M - End Of The World As We Know It

Eminem-Rap God

4 Answers 4


You would benefit from taking voice lessons with a teacher, so that the teacher can give you feedback on what they are hearing, and teach you how to pronounce things better.

It also has to do with pitch and melody, because when you sing at the top of your range, you naturally need to modify the vowels to accommodate the pitches. This is hard to explain in writing, but a voice teacher can demonstrate it for you.

Also, it is helpful to make recordings of your singing and analyze them yourself. Any kind of inexpensive recorder will do for this purpose.

When you are learning a song or a rap with a lot of words in it, practice with a metronome and start at a substantially slower tempo. Make sure you can articulate every note and syllable cleary (again, making a recording of yourself helps). Then sing a difficult phrase again and again at a gradually increased tempo on the metronome until you reach the performance tempo. In other words, start out slow, and then practice until you can do the entire song start to finish at the proper tempo.

Feedback and constructive criticism from other people who have a good ear is always helpful.

Finally, I would point out that REM's "It's the end of the world as we know it (And I feel fine)" is a very difficult challenge for any singer!

  • Just want to clarify that vowel modification occurs at both ends of the range, not only the top. Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 18:26
  • That'll do me, I shall begin my search for a teacher in the new year! Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 9:36
  • 1
    Boba (sorry - I mean Wheat), you may get the bounty, but I get the hat :-)
    – dumbledad
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 15:29
  • Happy Holidays, dumbledad
    – user1044
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 22:37
  • I got awarded a Boba hat, but I preferred to keep the menorah hat instead.
    – user1044
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 22:37

I would get lessons (perhaps group ones). My wife and I joined a local small community choir-cum-workshop-cum-evening class and the teacher spends ages each week on vowel exercises among other things. She explains to us how to sing clear open vowels, using facial expression, movement, etc. She describes and demonstrates the sound to us (typically encouraging open Italian sounding vowel sounds) and whether the mouth should be open, where the tongue should be, etc. and then we sing various small arpeggios of just that vowel or combinations of vowels.

Next term we may progress to consonants ;-)

The stuff we sing is a different genre to the music you are after, but I think many of the vocal exercises a teacher or choir master employs may help.

  • 1
    Thanks for the spelling corrections @alexander-troup but I disagree :-( Though I can understand why people are squeamish about writing "cum" because of it's rude connotations it is the right word: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cum#Etymology_1
    – dumbledad
    Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 13:54
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    wow, Indeed you are right. My bad! Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 14:24

An important piece of advice—which I first heard in the context of piano playing, but believe that it can be adapted to work equally well in describing singing techniques—is to make sure that you can clearly enunciate the individual syllables you are singing. That is, if you are having a hard time making the syllables and sounds distinct, your audience will have no chance at perceiving them correctly, either.

Note that for a singer, words are not nearly as important as sounds. Your job is to articulate the set of sounds you need to convey the sense of words to your audience. But if you are thinking of singing entire words, then to some extent the battle has been lost before it's even been engaged.


If you are not able to get lessons...
I'd say practice slowly. Memorize the words first before trying to go faster. Like Aeismail said, you are trying to enunciate all the syllables, not just trying to get words out. But I'd have to disagree with the words not being important. Think about it. If you have a ton of sounds thrown together, then there is no meaning to them. So, I'd think that also getting whole words across is more important.
Recording yourself is extremely helpful. Do it and see if you can understand yourself.

Hope that helped...


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