• Michelle Ostrove

A Method Used To Help Create A Singing Style - Diphthong

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

To articulate (the shape of your sounds) two vowel sounds next to each other, when you are singing, is called diphthong. You’re probably thinking, “what on earth is a diphthong?”, but it’s a real thing! It is a sound formed by two vowel sounds, next to each other in a single syllable. The sound begins as one vowel and moves into another vowel sound. For example ‘night’ ‘N-IH–EE-T’ or ‘day’ ‘D-AYY–EEE’; it has a compound vowel character or gliding vowel. The second vowel is what we call the diphthong. Pop singers love to use diphthong to create more individual singing styles. For example certain artists are known for their strange pronunciation of words and how they stray from the normal pronunciation (like Sia in Chandelier). It’s also used in choirs and many other genres of singing.

Here are 8 Common English Diphthong Sounds with Examples:

  • /aʊ/ as in “Town”

  • /aɪ/ as in “Light”

  • /eɪ/ as in “Play”

  • /eə/ as in “Pair”

  • /ɪə/ as in “Deer”

  • /oʊ/ as in “Slow”

  • /ɔɪ/ as in “Toy”

  • /ʊə/ as in “Sure”

How to stylize your diphthongs depends on what you are singing; it’s all about blending the sounds and making the song sound better. As with any vocal fringe technique, you don’t want to do this too often. But choose a well-placed sustained vowel and break it. If you were to hold out the word say, you might start with “sa,” driving the word forward, and then pull it back to an open “i” (as in kick) that’s rounded into an “ooh.” Play around with different ideas, including front to back vowels and open to close vowels, in order to test different shifts in resonance. Listen to what other singers are doing, and try developing your own style.


Why did the drummer put his head on the piano?

Because he wanted to play by ear.

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