English words on the page are pinned to the dictionary. Music lifts words off the pin and breathes life, colour and complexity back into them. Intention shapes breath. Breath shapes sound. Sound shapes meaning.
Think of ‘happy’. Light and joyful in the mouth of Pharell Williams, twisted into a painful shadow by Tom Robinson; Mary Margaret O’Hara lifts happy off the dictionary pin, and lets it fly free:
The English H sound is relaxation. And a touch of breath. That’s all. If you can breathe, you’re halfway to an English H. More than halfway.
Sometimes it’s hard to trust your breath do all the work, especially if H is silent in your own language. Watch Pharrell Williams’ face as he sings the H of hot, here, happy and high. He looks relaxed and happy, doesn’t he? His H isn’t a nasty cough. It’s a smooth, easy breath.