In this month’s article we’re going to discuss a very popular subject!

Singing with distortion, husk, dirt, grit, throat, growling; call it what you will! But for this months article we are simply going to call  it singing dirty or with distortion.

But firstly let’s just get a few facts and terminologies down so that you  know exactly what I’m talking about for this particular article in relation to singing dirty or with distortion.

There are only 2 forms/techniques of harder singing/screaming that are used.

1. True or chest voice distorted singing. E.g James Hatfield from Metallica only users distorted true or chest voice singing on all Metallica tracks.

2. Falsetto voice distorted singing.E.g Daniel Davey from Cradle of Filth sings predominantly in a falsetto voice distorted screams. There are also a lot of heavier artists out there that use a mixture of both true and false voices e.g Lamb of God, Dream on dreamer, Airbourne and Pantera.190px-Howard_jones_of_killswitch_engage

In this month’s article we are only going to discuss true voice distortion, though please look out for January 2014’s article on on high falsetto screaming!

Please always remember to completely warmed up your voice before you starting any distortion, husky scales or singing with some humming and then some clean scales or singing.

Ensure that to always remember to take a proper diaphragmatic breath whilst doing any singing but especially harder or distorted singing. To ensure that proper breath support is continually maintained, focus on correct diagram support of all notes and apply the right amount of breath pressure underneath the vocal chords at all times.

If you need to tighten anything, it should be your diagphram (stomach) area, NOT you neck, shoulders or throat. Always keep your neck relaxed so that your vocal chords have room to distort. We want to feel the vocal chords vibrate  and distorting, like a quiet dog growl.

Try for this for yourself at home: Stand up in a relaxed posture and then  try to growl like a dog in any key/note. Keep your mouth open and try to hold that one note/growl for 2 or 3 seconds.

This shouldn’t hurt or strain your voice! You do not and should not feel any pain or discomfort at all .You don’t want to feel the vocal chords are being pushed or forced together, this will only cause the air that is being forced through the vocal chords to become pressurised e.g like the vocal chords are holding back the air pressure in your lungs. You want to relax your vocal chords and throat. Leaving your vocal chords to relax and  distort with support from the diaphragm with minimal force. You ultimately want to let air  run through your vocal chords so that they distort, you do not want to compress the vocal chords together to make a distorted sound!

I always like to start off with and use Kurk Cobain from Nirvana as an example of the amount of huskiness  and distortion you want to achieve and experiment with. So start off on a single note and try to lightly growl like a dog. Once you have achieved this and your vocal chords are distorting and not causing you any discomfort or pain,  try to sing a few notes higher and lower from that single not starting point still keeping your sounds distorted. If you are feeling comfortable with this  try then to  sing a few words around the same pitch or key. Once you have mastered this technique then try to sing up as high and as low as you naturally and safely can without causing any pain or discomfort on your vocal chords. I would strongly recommend trying to tighten up your diaphragm or stomach area as you were going up high in your vocal range.

I would recommend going up and down the 2 octaves from about low C to high C with a light husky tone like Kurt Cobain. Once you have accomplished this and have sung a song or 2 in this particular tone you can gradually try to give your distorted tone more diaphragmatic support and volume, but please still try to keep your vocal chords relaxed. This should now start to sound and emulate a tone that is similar to James Hatfield’s from Metallica. Again repeat the same process by trying to sing a few octaves and songs with this somewhat courser tone.

Then finally and ultimately once you have got this technique down you  give it even more diaphragmatic  projection ,support and volume but still keeping the vocal chords relaxed to produce an even more brutal and harsher tone similar to Pantera.

Another great tip and technique to make you have a more distorted sound is to cup or ball the microphone in the palm of your hand whilst singing. This will greatly help you get a more distorted sound.


Recapping the main points

1. Always support and sing with your diaphragm.

2. Always warm up and cool down your vioce.

3. Keep our vocal chords relaxed and let them distort. Don’t compress them together.

4.Start off with small bursts of husky singing until you build up your stamina and strength


By Peter Vox

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