Just the Two of Us, and the letter W

We talked about Aretha Franklin adding a y so that she can make a smooth connection between words that end in vowel sounds and words that begin with vowel sounds in R.E.S.P.E.C.T. 

Listen to Bill Withers singing Just The Two of Us. Two ends with a vowel sound. Of starts with a vowel sound. What sound does Bill use to link the words together smoothly? Is it Aretha’s y? Or something else? Listen carefully.

Did you catch it? It’s a w. It’s a gentle w, a ghost of a w, but it serves to connect the two words effortlessly. Without that w, Bill would have to jump uncomfortably between two mouth positions. He has to finish the word two and then move to the beginning of the word of.  It’s too stilted without the w.  Try singing Two followed by of without putting a whispered w between them and you’ll see how disjointed it feels.

W and y are the silk ribbons tying vowel sounds together between words. Your singing will be smoother if you use them.

© Sing Better English, 2014


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