Protecting your Voice
The first thing that you have to learn in scream singing is warming up. Shouting or any forceful type of vocal release are not advisable is your vocal folds are feeling flimsy. Apparently, pushing your voice too hard can cause swelling in the throat. At some point, it could lead to severe damages.
Even professional singers need to vocalize, just like athletes who would do a regimen of warm-up before the actual game. Doing all these preparations will condition your body to whatever needs to do. For singing, there are a lot of warm-up techniques that you can use.
Here are some of them:
- Sing Trills – This particular vocalization will condition the muscles of your lips and tongue. To do this, you just have to hum a tone while trilling your lips or tongue simultaneously.
- Scaling – Try to recite songs with regular intervals. Specifically, there should be two-octave intervals in the song that you will practice.
- Siren – Let your voice ascend gently from your lower range towards the upper one. After reaching your limits, you must descend as smoothly as possible.
Another thing that you should do is to keep your body healthy. If your body is feeling unpleasant, then you must not push yourself. Sensations of pain and irritation to the voice can lead to unwanted changes in your voice if you force yourself to scream.
Of course, it is also crucial for you to take breaks. As you know already, scream-singing is putting your vocal chords into pressure. The usual aftermath of it would be discomfort and hoarseness in your voice. If you feel that your voice is not doing well already, then take a break from practice. In this way, you can avoid strains.
Voice safety tips:
- Hydration – Always drink tea or warm water. These liquids can benefit your vocal folds thoroughly.
- Limitations – For beginners, we have to remind that you should only sing for a maximum of twenty minutes per day only. But you can exceed these constraints once you can hone the strength of your vocals.
What are vocal effects?
Vocal effects are sounds we make to enhance and intensify expression: roughness added to a tone, quirks and turns inserted on or between notes, sudden outbursts, and more. They all stem from an urge to express something more than is possible merely through words and melody. Vocal effects are use in all styles of singing. Rough effects can often be heard in for instance death metal, ‘screamo’ and black metal, but also in pop, rock, soul and folk music traditions. An example of a singer utilising vocal effects is the late and legendary Ronnie James Dio:
We also use vocal effects in speech, often without being aware about it. For example, you might notice a creaky sound sneaking in when you are tired or unengaged, or when your energy drops off at the end of a sentence. Or if you are like most people, and sometimes get frustrated about things, you might catch yourself making little grunts to express your impatience.
Common terms to describe vocal effects are growl, creak, grunt, distortion, and more. Also vibratos, breath sounds and ornamentations can be seen as effects, since they are generally not part of the planned content.
Learn How to Sing “Screamo” Without Hurting Your Vocal
Singing “Screamo” or scream singing can be dangerous to your vocal chords if you do not use proper techniques. It is also essential to know how your vocal system works. If you follow the incorrect method of scream singing, then the vocal chords will undergo lot of tension causing big or small temporary damage.
Building and strengthening your natural voice should be your priority before you started to learn “screaming“. If you try to use the screaming style on singing without perfecting your natural voice, your natural voice will get damaged beyond repair. Screamo technique and voice distortion comes with long practice. This rough sound should come with an exact flow of air in coordination with muscular pressure in the lower diaphragm.
There are 2 categories of scream singers:-
- Singers who scream singing because their voice has already been damaged by abuse of drugs and alcohol and they cannot sing in their natural voice.
- Singers who have perfected the scream singing technique after they have developed their natural voice. These singers can sing either screamo or in soft and melodious voice.
Be sure to fall in the second category or else you will wind up with a voice beyond repair.
Different Types of Screaming Techniques That Used By The Metal Singers
There are many screaming techniques you need to master in order to scream singing like a pro. The techniques include:
- Mid range growl
- Low growl
- Kvlt scream
- Pig squeal
- Low guttural
- Fry scream
- Inhale scream
- Tunnel throat scream
- Walrus scream
My advice is that you should learn each technique once at a time, don’t rush. You have to master each of these techniques before jumping to the next. Unlike classical or other modern singing techniques, the vocal health condition is more critical in scream-singing. In fact, you have to be very careful with your vocal condition during your vocal screaming exercises and practices, practicing with the improper method will eventually jeopardize your vocal chords permanently.
Scream Singing Technique Tips
Let me give you some tips to develop the scream singing technique.
1) Choose your scream/distortion style singing: Scream singing is not limited to any particular style of singing. It can be done for hard rock, jazz, blues rock, pop or even Gospel. Hence by discovering your comfort levels in scream singing in relation to the style of song, you can develop and fine tune the technique without harming your vocal chords.
2) Find a good Vocal Instructor: A good instructor will first help you to build and strengthen your natural voice. After that the technique for scream singing has to be mastered with his help so that you do not damage your voice.
3) Focus on breathing techniques, resonance, volume and articulation. This comes only with regular practice and determination.
4) Warm up the voice: Before practicing screamo warm up your voice with natural singing for at least 30-40 minutes and ten minutes of breathing exercises. This is to relax and open up your vocal chords before you strain it for scream singing. Warming up is the next vital step to learning how to sing “screamo“. Scream singers such as Randy Blythe of Lamb of God, Byron Davis of God Forbid and Phil Labonte of All That Remains all do singing warm ups before they scream sing. Singing warm ups are exercises like scales, often done at choir practice sessions. Scream singers should use the same basic vocal exercises.
5) Drink warm water: Drinking warm water before practice or performance and at frequent intervals is a good idea to keep your voice clear and relieve your throat of dryness.
6) Avoid alcohol and drugs: They can dehydrate the body by affecting the brain which is responsible for muscular coordination while singing. Alcohol and drug abuse can also lead to breathlessness and lack of control over voice.
7) Avoid milk based drinks and foods: (chocolate & ice cream)These can form a coating in your throat resulting is decrease of air passage. Since these food items are heavy they also tend to develop phlegm.
8) Avoid cold food: Try to avoid taking anything cold including cold water. Whatever you consume should be preferably warm and it is better to have a light stomach before singing.
9) Stop immediately you feel discomfort in throat: At any time you feel pain, burning sensation or irritation in your throat, stop singing immediately to avoid permanent damage. Rest your voice till it cures completely.
If you follow these simple steps, you can improve your voice dramatically. So, protect your vocal chords while still doing what you love. Once you know how to properly scream sing it is easy, fun and safe to do!
How does the voice produce effects?
Especially rougher vocal effects may perhaps sound damaging to the vocal folds but in reality, many of these sounds do not even directly involve the vocal folds at all. I say directly because even if a sound is created at one place, it does have potential to affect the circumstances for the vocal instrument as whole. Vocalizing always involves an interaction of several parameters:
The airstream acts as a power source, giving the air movement needed to start a sound and keep it going.
Next we need some kind of sound source and in most singing – that is created by the vibrations of the vocal folds. However, we can theoretically use another source instead – or why not two! Almost all rough effects are created at levels above and apart from the vocal folds. In science this is described as happening at a “supraglottal” level (supra = above the glottis).
There are of course names for the specific parts involved too, but as a singer you really do not have to know them. It’s just various little cartilages and mucus membranes shaking and having a party in your throat. When they vibrate against things or each other, they act as a second sound source. This creates a rougher sound, given the more “clumsy” figure of for example cartilages, as compared to vocal folds.
A second sound source can be active while the vocal folds keep vibrating as usual too, creating the tone. Together the result is a tone with a rough quality. If on the other hand something else than the vocal folds alone is creating the sound, we will only hear the roughness, without a note.
Finally we need something to amplify the sound – a resonator. The vocal tract does this for us and has the potential to both amplify and dampen different aspects of the sound depending on how we shape it.
These three parts – the power source, the sound source and the resonator, always need to interact in a balanced way for it all to work. If you change something at one end, the others need to adjust too. Therefore there exists no constant state of any parameter, but rather various places of perfect balance, for every different sound you are making.
Effects at different levels
An effect that actually does directly affect the vocal folds is creaking (sometimes referred to as vocal fry). The vocal folds keep vibrating – they just do it in a different kind of pattern that creates the creakiness.
This effect is generally produced at fairly low volume and amplified by external means, such as a microphone! During the effect distortion on the other hand, the ”false folds” (ventricular folds) situated right above the vocal folds, are creating an audible vibration. Growl and rattle are examples of effects produced at a level a bit higher up than distortion.
And perhaps the most aggressive effect of them all is Grunt. Here there is a whole bunch of stuff vibrating – basically the whole base of the vocal tract. Talk about rocking the house!
Apart from that effects can be created at different levels, they can also be created at different intensities. For instance in more aggressive metal styles, more noise from the effect can often be heard, while in for example a pop song, there might be just a slight raspiness added to notes. The intensity of the underlying note also has a great impact on how aggressive the sound as whole will seem.
Growl, grunt, what?
If you have been hanging out in the heavy metal community, chances are you’re wondering what on the earth I’m talking about. You have the right to. Voice pedagogy is not exactly known for being consistent when it comes to terminology and vocal effects make no exception. Words mean different things to different people. For example, vocalists and music listeners often use the word “growl” to describe a whole style of singing.
But in scientific contexts, growl may refer to a certain gesture and vibration that is taking place in the throat. Specifically, the term growl can be found in voice research describing the type of effect that can be heard in Louie Armstrong’s singing.
The most vital part of metal scream is to know which parts of your body coordinate to achieve such. The science for screaming is not that complicated. But it is essential for you to learn them so that you can avoid unwanted voice damages. Specifically, the four parts of your body that contribute to the scream are the following: chest, diaphragm, throat, and mouth.
Metal screams are usually loud and deafening. Obviously, you can’t do such feats if your mouth is not fully opened. In screaming, it is crucial that your mouth is free from obstructions. The opening you create should be wide, too.
Moreover, you need to control your screams as well. It might not be obvious from a layman’s standpoint, but professional singers always restrict their voices. Specifically, they avoid sound distortions as it can stress their vocal tracts.
The Role of the Throat
Your throat is vital is this process. You cannot create any good-sounding tone if your throat is not in its top condition. Furthermore, scream-singing requires you to open your throat entirely as well. In this way, you can release as much sound as you can. Once again, avoid distortions so that you can prevent the throat muscles from constricting.
- You can get the initial “feel” of opening your throat by yawning. The entire mechanism of yawning is almost the same as scream-singing. This is a traditional technique that allows you to exercise the different regions of your throat.
- Meanwhile, your tongue should assume a flat position. As we mentioned earlier, you have to avoid in obstructions in the opening of your mouth so that you can release the full prowess of your voice. The throat won’t be able to unleash those screaming sounds if your tongue is out of place.
Before you can do a metal scream, you must regulate your breathing. Specifically, your chest should be as relaxed as possible while you are breathing calmly. Relaxing the muscles in your chest will allow you to breathe and open your mouth widely. This kind of body gesture is the appropriate stance for scream-singing.
However, if you feel the opposite, or if you are sensing that your airflow is inadequate, then you stop immediately. Try the exercise once again, and if you feel the same thing, then you should rest already.
Getting Distortion from your Chest
It is not in the vocal chords where you get the distortion. Instead, it should be on your chest. This particular region is the strongest are of the windpipe. Therefore, all the power of your screams should originate from here, not in your throat.
Practice Makes Perfect
Practicing is essential for any form of art and profession. Whether it is singing or painting, practice is a game-changing factor. Even if you have natural talents for a particular field, if you don’t harness it, it will rust eventually. You should apply the same concept in scream-singing as well.
In practicing for metal screams, you should try to modulate your voice. Practicing in loud notes will strain your voice quickly. Therefore, you might want to do some quick training with a fixed volume level. Once you do this constantly, you will be able to strengthen your voice fully.
Meanwhile, check out this video about metal scream basics:
You should follow the techniques and tips here if you want to know how to metal scream properly. As you progress, you will realize that these basic methods are truly beneficial to your voice.
Of course, do not forget to practice with moderation. You have to keep in mind that your voice has its limits, too. Pushing it too hard might be deleterious on your part.
Did you learn from this article? If you have other techniques in scream-singing, then you could share it with us in the comment section below! Also, you can share your love with us by sharing this article to your social media accounts!