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How to yell/scream into a mic and not sound like crap? examples inside

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SymCL
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First post here. What's up?

I realize this punk/rock vocal style that's comprised of yelling and screaming is not everyone's cup of tea. But it seems to be an art in itself that has a technique to it.

I am an English major and write a ton of poetry about absolutely nothing, and I've been talking with some people about putting it over music. The music would be aggressive and punkish, but still musical -- the people who I've been talking to know music, and I have some theory knowledge and experience with bass and guitar.

Anyways, I'm in a bit over my head as I have zero vocal experience. I can kind of sing and have been singing along to Guns N Roses and Queen, even though Axel and Freddie go way out of my range (which is E2 to C4). I can hit a lot of notes properly, or come close, but my singing sounds "strangled", like I don't have the breathing down.

I am not trying to be a flashy vocalist. The words I say and how I say them is way more important to me than showing off. But how do I not suck? Why do some screaming vocalists sound like a construction worker, while others actually sound musical? I have heard anything screamed/sung/whatever should be produced from your diaphragm and stomach muscles and then is FILTERED by your vocal cords. And you should be trying to spit every word you speak at the wall on the far side of the room. These are true in poetry readings.

But beyond that, how do I sound competent?

Some examples of vocalists in this style who make it work:

Keith Buckley from Every Time I Die -- I am VERY interested in how he is doing his vocals. I feel like a large part of it is his knowledge of the English language (read his lyrics from the album Hot Damn!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwayK88aMqc

Dennis Lyxzén from Refused.

The dude from Avenged Sevenfold (only their first album)

Kurt Cobain on some songs

What are they doing that separates them from say, this vocalist:

Thanks for any help!

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how yells ans screams sound have a lot to do with your vocal cords. And it's important to separate Yelling from screaming. Yelling generally uses true cords, screaming uses false cords.

whether you are using either of these techniques, It's important to try and minimize cord damage.

When yelling you push with your true cords, but you want to make it less raw/full on and make it more light on your throat. Try pretending you are yelling "ah", then do the same exact note again while having a really big smile. It's a small difference, but the grinning ah should be less raspy. This also applies to singing normal notes in punk tones.

It's possible to get a decent yell with false cord/diaphragm style, and not have to go into a "screaming" technique. But anything that involves your false cords takes TIME, AND LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS OF TIME, and it's EXTREMELY EASY TO HURT YOUR CORDS.

The same with a Yell, if you don't control your yell or start making it louder than it should be, it's gonna wear out your cords really fast.

so if you are working on singing punkish, yelling, or using false cords. it's important to start small and not push it.

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Thanks for the reply. I am a bit confused about the true and false cord thing. I see what you mean about the raspy "ah" thing, though.

I will Google the true/false cords, but do you have any links? In the YouTube videos that I posted above, how does the vocalist from Every Time I Die sound to you? It seems more like yelling to me, but if you have any idea of his technique, please share.

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For one thing I rather prefer the last one. It's very Slayer inspired. However, the screamier ones are most likely achieved through using a narrower/higher placement. For me this allows more false cord action like doveros mentioned. I guess its due to the same amount of air being compressed/sped up to create more turbulence. You have to kind of feel your way with it. Just make badger noises when nobody is around and go from there. If it hurts, stop.

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The bottom line here is the kind of vocals you want to o can't just be learned overnight. And, if you keep trying to do them in an improper method, you will damage your voice. I know a guy that could sing ANYTHING - like Queensryche, Dokken, Priest.. And then he decided to try scream and shout vocals because of a new band he was in. After about 6 months, his voice was damaged - and to this day, he can't sing a clean note and talks like he has smoked 5 packs of ciggarrettes a day. Get some lessons.

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Fact: Putting rasp on top of an actual MELODY, especially one with many high pitches, is MUCH more difficult than to ONLY use rasp and no underlying melody. Death metal vocals is probably the easiest type of rasp.

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Yes... All this serious is talk is for real because to sing this way will probably take a very long time to "learn." We all know guys that can just scream their head off and don't know what they're doing. So for us guys that don't have this natural inclination, you have to take it slow and just experiment. You'll sound like an idiot for a long time, and sometimes you may push it too far that you can't really speak the next day. There's always the danger that you will permanently damage your voice. Do you think we were meant to sound like this? There's a reason why extreme vocals are extreme: they are literally at the end of the spectrum of normal human vocal production.

I've just seen too many bands start off strong then the singer loses it. Punk, hardcore, metal, etc... All these styles demand a vocal that there aren't really any teachers for or any decent programmes... These kids are just screaming from the heart and destroying their voice.

I think a good rule is: if it doesn't hurt, it's probably okay :)

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Sources Jonpall? Like I said it's based on your vocal cords, either way, you are hurting your cords, no matter how easy or not easy it is for you.

It seems to me like death metal rasp will cause sore spots more easily.

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Sources Jonpall? Like I said it's based on your vocal cords, either way, you are hurting your cords, no matter how easy or not easy it is for you.

It seems to me like death metal rasp will cause sore spots more easily.

It really really depends.

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You need to learn how to belt effectively in a supported way. If you don't you could seriously damage your voice singing like this and you don't want that. Vocalising like these singers in this genre causes constriction and tension in the voice and surrounding muscles. I'd be surprised if they could actually speak by the end of a whole gig. As a voice coach I wouldn't suggest you sing like this but if it's really what you want then do it in very small doses. Use the microphone cleverly so that you are not pushing volume. Be very careful.......singing like this in general is not good technique.

Take care

Sarah

http://www.singersadvice.com

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Personally, I love punk. But I don't consider your examples "punk." Punk to me is Sex Pistols or the Ramones, etc. I like that stuff (for some odd reason). Not to sing but to listen too.

Anyway, that has nothing to do with anything :D My question has more to do with what you said here:

I am not trying to be a flashy vocalist. The words I say and how I say them is way more important to me than showing off.

If you are an English major and write poetry and are saying that your words (writing) as well as "the way you say them" are whats important, then why the hell would you want to scream them? IMO you will be blurring the words....the message. I would think "emotion" and phrasing would be the way to go.

But, then again, i don't know what you are writing about. Maybe it's about mass destruction and genocide!! :D

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Dang, Tommy, I think you said that in your outside voice. I, too, would find it hard to understand poetry obfuscated by a deathly growl. But then, I was never into that style and it's not because I can't do that style. Maybe I'm just a product of my generation. I like singers whos lyrics I understand.

Ozzy Osbourne is a good example. In speach, he mumbles and any interviews with him include Eenglish subtext. But when he sings, you can hear every word clearly.

Maybe I am too old to comment in this thread.

Just an old fuddy duddy still listening to the best of Uriah Heep, live. Pardon me while I take another geritol ....

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Personally, I love punk. But I don't consider your examples "punk." Punk to me is Sex Pistols or the Ramones, etc. I like that stuff (for some odd reason). Not to sing but to listen too.

Anyway, that has nothing to do with anything :D My question has more to do with what you said here:

If you are an English major and write poetry and are saying that your words (writing) as well as "the way you say them" are whats important, then why the hell would you want to scream them? IMO you will be blurring the words....the message. I would think "emotion" and phrasing would be the way to go.

But, then again, i don't know what you are writing about. Maybe it's about mass destruction and genocide!! :D

The thing about this vocal style is that I feel it has room to be wordy. When musicians are capable of truly singing, they are choosing words and vowels more for their notes rather than words. I've noticed a lot of vocalists with great voices (who also write the lyrics) write in poor meter or they fail to follow enough of the rules of the English language to make it even worth hearing (to my ears, anyway). It may sound counter-intuitive, but I really don't know of any "good" vocalists who are lyricists who have lyrics that make me say "wow."

In the videos above, I can understand Keith Buckley clearly, even when I don't know the lyrics to the song.

My point is that I dig this vocal style because to me, it really allows the words to be in the forefront, rather than your vocals. You may not be able to understand Keith, but if you read any of his lyrics from "Last Night in Town" or "Hot Damn!", you'll know what I mean. I think if your audience (assuming there was one) thought you were saying something cool, they would find out what it is.

And I think Geezer wrote the the lyrics for Sabbath. Sabbath's lyrics are direct and don't have much fat, but that's not how I write. My words are just words that sound cool as a whole... they don't really mean anything and I think that is how it should be.

Regardless, thank you for all of the replies.

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I agree with what you're saying that many great singers choose their words based on the vowel sounds rather than the lyrical meaning: I've heard Thom Yorke and Bono both say explicitly that they often write songs by playing around with a melody, finding the vowel sounds in their voice that suit it, and then they write lyrics based on that. This would be the exact opposite of what we consider "good" lyric writing.

Maybe you missed your calling in life; you need to rap ;)

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  • 2 months later...

Hey guys, I don't mean to revive an old thread, but I figured I'd update this because I've been pursuing this and actually found this thread through doing a Google search.

I've had some real experience with the screaming/yelling now, and I re-read all of this advice in the thread and it now it helps even more.

The first time I tried screaming, I actually screamed, and I lost my voice in about 5 minutes. Not to mention it just sounded extremely dissonant, and I had zero control over it. Felt good to get it out, but no more of that.

I've been practicing trying to get the "grit" into my voice without using my throat, and making the grit come from behind my nose, and only pushing air, not sound, out of my body. It's turned into a sort of barkish type of yell, although I'm still really bad at it. Either way, when I practice doing it I don't feel anything in my throat after I'm done and I can speak normally, which I'm guessing is a good thing. There is an exercise where you do jumping jacks while reciting the ABCs in a gritty voice. I like that a lot, and it helps dramatically. I also sing 4-5 songs to warm up.

I still can't get as much rasp on it as I'd like, but I can hit some notes while doing this. Not that I was much of a singer anyway, but I am starting to at least move away from being monotonous and I think it's more important to have some comfort and control in my voice rather than straight aggression. I've searched for a vocal coach, but there are none in my area. I may put up some fliers at my school asking any music education majors with choir experience for lessons for some cash. I definitely love the heavy vocal styles, but if my voice is going to be my instrument, I want to be very adept at using it.

I've also found that playing with preamp settings and sort of cupping the mic with one hand makes my voice sound a lot more intense without forcing me to have to get loud. All of this barking/yelling happens at about the same volume as my speaking voice, which I think is the way it's supposed to be.

Anyway, thanks for the tips. I welcome any more advice if anyone has it.

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any powerful sounding vocal effect is going to be powerful because the core of it is a strong, ringing tone - the effects are on top of that to color it, but the powerful sound is going to come from a good timbre under all the layers of effects/distortion etc

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