Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music



First Advisor

Alicia Walker


Understanding vowel production is vital in order to develop a rich choral tone based on unified vowels, appropriate resonance, and freely produced singing. Likewise, correct articulation of consonants produces understandable text. Enunciating the texts of Western choral repertoire is often challenging for Mandarin singers, and learning English pronunciation requires a significant amount of rehearsal time. Further, amateur and developing singers in Mandarin-speaking countries often employ a bright sound and lowered soft palate when singing, in common with their native speaking position. Therefore, voice placement, resonance, and vowel modification must be carefully addressed and improved upon when they are singing Western choral music, and the conductor must also understand the challenges of unfamiliar consonant articulation.

The principal purpose of this document is to present a methodology to achieve resonant tone, vowel unification, and clarity of diction, with the goal of assisting Mandarin/Chinese singers’ performance of the Western choral canon. To facilitate Mandarin singers’ understanding of the differences between English and Mandarin, I will present a phonological analysis and comparison between English and Mandarin Chinese, then address the problematic issues for Mandarin singers related to the pronunciation of English vowels and consonants. I will address vocal technique through breath management, formation, placement and modification of vowels, articulation of consonants, and the perception of timbre to provide Mandarin choirs and their conductors a systematic method to develop resonant tone, vowel unification, and clarity of diction.


© 2018, Chien-Yi Li

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