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High rasp

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jonpall
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*Edit: If there is a question in this thread, it's this: If you want to be able to sing songs with lots of high notes (E4-E5 or so for men, i.e. the tenor range) AND RASP on top of it, how do you train for it? Do you think it's enough to do lots of sirens and scales from programs like Tamplin, Lunte, Vendera or Lugo, or would you recommend doing any specific rasp exercises also. Finally, how much time do you spend working on actual songs?*

I just recorded myself training high pitch raspy vocals in the style of Brian Johson, Rob Halford, Axl Rose, Steven Tyler, Bon Jovi and David Coverdale, on my mobile phone, and I thought I'd share it with you for the fun of it. Perhaps it will be helpful for someone out there who is experimenting with this stuff.

Note that the sound I'm going for here is VERY distorted. Kind of like a very pissed off Brian Johnson from the early days. So if you're looking for a slightly bluesy, soulful rasp, I'm not really doing that in these clips (although I do a couple of low rasp phrases in there somewhere which don't sound quite as agressive). So this is ugly and mean. Just what I want for heavy metal vocals ;) .

This is just ONE method of training how to sing high, raspy songs and it has worked well for me in the past. It's a method I sort of created myself but was inspired by the CVT way of training bits and pieces of songs. I'm sure LOTS of people are doing very similar things. If anyone wants to know the details of how this training method works, just give me a call and I'll hook up an insanely expensive Skype lesson for ya in which I'll share all the details. Just kidding. But there are lots of small, helpful details to this shit.

I almost didn't post these clips. And I might take them down in a few days, I don't know. Why? Because I was sick the day when this was recorded (yesterday). I had cold and could barely speak when I woke up. You can hear the first sign of it when I can't connect perfectly in an early siren. And later when I don't hit some pitches perfectly. But just before I did these exercises, I got back to maybe 90% of my voice. I warmed up several times during the day to gradually get my voice back and when I finally did the raspy exercises in the clips below, I made sure that this never, ever hurt my throat. And that was key - this NEVER hurt my throat. That's why I could go on for quite a while like this. Also, I've been singing pure clean, Journey like songs for the past few months so I'd partly forgotten how to do high rasp (here's an a capella version of my training Don't stop believing on my mobile phone if you're interested in what I've doing almost entirely recently: http://www.box.net/shared/qv7xbv88317hzldup8vf). But I'm still kind of happy with the tone I'm getting on many parts here.

So ... when you listen to this, bare in mind that I make MANY mistakes. That's why I almost didn't post this. But then I thought - these clips kind of sound like me a while back when I was first learning how to do high rasp. I wasn't doing it perfectly, but whenever I did a mistake, I did it again until I could do it, as long as my throat didn't hurt. And I think this might be slightly cool because no vocal programs out there ever let you hear BEGINNERS do a sub-perfect version of the exercises. So I sacrifice myself here, in a way, knowing that some of you might think this simply sucks! But, again, I think that if I DIDN'T do any mistakes, you wouldn't get a good idea how this method works. Here's one of the most important secrets to it:

Whenever I make a mistake, I do the same phrase again. Perhaps a couple of times. If that doesn't work, I do the same phrase but substitute the words with simple vowels. Then when that works, I go back to the words. If the vowels don't even work - I step back even further and maybe lower the pitch or the volume or something. I might even have to "roll back" all the way to simple lip rolls. And whenever I'm doing well with an exercise I move fairly quickly to a more complex exercise - in the direction of the actual SONG (or the part of it) ... until I'm sing the song itself.

Also, just for rasp, I find it very helpful to do TONS of sirens and then put rasp on top of the highest notes - keeping a relaxed throat all the time. High rasp just needs a lot of time to really sink into your muscle memory, I think.

So here it is. The song I'm training is AC/DC's "Who made who":

http://www.box.net/shared/jbveamj9pqc44h525dy4

http://www.box.net/shared/8986bgzjnjkt5p5ipkm3

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A while back I was constantly running into the following problem:

I could do EXERCISES fairly well, like sirens and scales - even ones that included some distortion here and there, but far too often when I went to band practise, thinking NOW I surely will nail those Led Zeppelin and Guns N Roses songs, I failed miserably. There really is a bit of a step between exercises and songs. And think many of you recognize this all too well.

Doing what I'm doing in the clips above really helped me bridge that gap! And this is pretty much how I sounded when I was about half way through mastering it. If you want to hear me singing with a BETTER control of high rasp, just check out my old tenor improv clip, so you don't think I'm bullshitting with my "I had a cold" story: http://www.box.net/shared/716r0cu0v4. You might not necessarily like my tone there, but at least I'm much more connected there and don't have a pitch problem :)

I'm hoping that someone out there might find this stuff helpful. If you guys have some related secrets of your own to share, please spill your guts.

Cheers.

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I love hearing this type of process. Hell, sounding perfect has nothing to do with it. Understanding the process has everything to do with it. That IS the big struggle; trying to figure out how you get there.

That being said, I would love to hear some of your bluesy distortions sometimes down the road. :cool:

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This happened several times in these clips:

I sang an off pitch note or some word didn't sound that good (or aweful). So what I did is to do the note or phrase AGAIN but this time with vowels instead of the words. In some cases I even sirened back up to the note and checked if my underlying clean tone was solid in all aspects. Then, when I could do the melody with the pure vowels (with rasp on), I tried doing it again with the words - while trying my best to keep the same throat configuration as when I just did the melody with vowels. And more often than not, it worked like pure magic. I just needed to refresh my muscles' memory a bit on how to sing like that.

And once my cold wears off and once I get back into the routine of training high rasp regularly along with the clean tenor stuff, I'm sure the bum notes will be much fewer.

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I hope I didn't come across the wrong way, because I know you can do this stuff exceptionally well. What I was trying to say is I think it's great to hear this process from the stage of struggling to ease of what you want. And all the intermediate steps in between. I learn a lot more that way.

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You didn't come across the wrong way, Quincy. Thanks, man. Yeah, it's hard to "fake" a mistake when you can do something well. Don't get me wrong. I still make too many mistakes for my account even when I'm in good form, but I felt that yesterday was a good opportunity to show this method of mine that I use to FIX mistakes and improve the pitch and tone. You can hear it in the clips.

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Actually, I was going to start this off different but I listened to all your audio files before replying. On the sirens, is that your turn signal indicator blinking in the background or is that a metronome (they both use the same type of circuitry)?

Thank you for being "naked" for us, so to speak. You are so right. All we ever hear is finished product. Never the steps that got us there. By the way, I like everything you've ever done, as just a fan of good music. Regardelss of whether we've had disagrements or whateveer. I am bad that way. I appreciate good artistry, whether I have a good day with that person, or not.

My favorite is the improv track. A bit of Jack Russell in the low end, some Bon Jovi in the middle, and some Axl on top.

It tempts me to be naked, as well. And you have invited us to spill our gut. I am working on a new song idea. I had a flash of a few lyrics and melody (I even found the key, Bbm) and recorded just a snippet so that I don't lose it or forget. That's how Keith Richards wrote "Jumpin' Jack Flash." The inspiration? You guys, of course. Not long before I got to this forum, you guys did a TMV forum song. And it sticks in my head. So, I've started a seed of an idea. You and others here are an inspiration for me.

I don't have a title so, for right now, it's new song 1. I have a few other older songs of mine that I am working on and trying to resurrect. But this one is a new effort. Nothing special, I didn't even set up the mic stand and pop filter. I just laid the mic on the computer desk, plugged into the USB and hit record and belted. I was riffing for a few days off the melody line in the beginning of "Wasted Years" and found something a little different.

"I came in here, black. (Bbm)

I came in here, white. (Bbm)

I sleep in the day, (Ab)

I live in the night. (Ab - Bbm)

Oh, oh, yeah ..." (Db - Ab - Bbm)

http://dl2.dropbox.com/u/8750209/newsong%201.mp3

It's easy to start a song idea. Sometimes the rest takes some work, sometimes, not.

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Cool song idea, Ron. I think it's something that can definitely be worked on and eventually be turned into a full blown songs. Here's a suggestion for the rest of the lyrics that has helped me in the past: Don't just say what you want to say directly, but indirectly - kind of like if someone was reading your thoughts and would only get bits and pieces of information - so don't write exactly how you would write a story. So the lines in the lyrics might very well be grammatically slightly incorrect. This might not be the best lyric ever but I like it and it comes to mind because I'm reading Steven Tyler's new book. So here's one example of how you could write something that's "indirectly" saying what you mean (not just "I went to the store. I saw this awesome chick. She didn't want me, so I just rented a video" - IF that ever happened to you, f.ex., you can write about it, but say it indirectly):

blues hearted lady, sleepy was she

love for the devil brought her to me

tears of a thousand drawn to her sin

seasons of wither holdin' me in

oooh woe is me, I feel so badly for you

oooh woe is me, I feel so sadly for you in time

bound to lose your mind

live on borrowed time

take the wind right out of your sail

fireflies dance in the heat of

hound dogs that bay at the moon

my ship leaves in the midnight

can't say I'll be back too soon

they awaken, far far away

heat of my candle show me the way

tears of a thousand drawn to her sin

seasons of wither holdin' me in

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jonpall - thank you for posting those clips. Making up exercises to overcome trouble spots in songs is really important and it's always great to hear how other people do it. It gives people ideas on how to practice. Just like james lugo said on a recent post: "Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect".

I've finally started to work on CVT distortion exercises - I gathered all the relevant audio clips and put them in a separate folder, and then renamed them with descriptive names. This way I can go through all of them (probably 20 or 30) in a practice session. I'm also working on an Adam Lambert song and basically emulating the distortion he is using which makes it easier. There are a few high spots in this song where I have a tendancy to pull too much chest and am using exercises similar to yours to work on these spots. It is the case where when singing scales I can easily reach these notes, but when singing the song I do it wrong. So I'm mixing in scales / sirens in with the song which is helping a lot. You've helped me discover these types of practice strategies.

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Here is the original Who made who song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2TADt0y5h8&feature=related

I hope you can hear that the technique I'm using is the same as Brian's, although I'm not in as good vocal shape as he was then. I've always though that the beginning line in that song, "The video games she played me", was one of Brian's best sounding lines ever. It just blows me away. Btw. Jorn Lande uses very similar things for many of his high screams. I sang this by memory and accidentally sang it a half step higher than the original. So the word "video" is on C#5 in my clip and on C5 in the original song.

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Thanks, jonpall.

That's a bit of advice a bit different from the half dozen books I have on songwriting but it's an excellent idea. I'll have to keep that in mind.

I did come up with some more lyrics on the way home but I fear that I am detracting from your thread. It did start as a topic to show how you progressed in your use of distortion. You did invite others to join in but I am not sure if my stuff is germaine to the topic you have here. I apologize if I overstepped boundaries.

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This is the best thread on high screams on this forum - hands down. Your clips sound amazing - great stuff and most importantly

great sounding hands on examples. Now, I'm gonna read your posts a few more times and then contact you Jon- you certainly

got my attention.

Great stuff - great job man,

Thanos

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I cant read this right now, but I really want to... im bookmarking... Im going to really start hunkering down on some new distortion techniques. Distortion is quite complex actually. Its very difficult to do well and healthy... but there are also many different variants of distortion, many with very different physiology involved to get the desired effect.

Ill have to listen tomorrow, but Ill have to subscribe to this one.

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Here's something I find very interesting about high distorted notes. It might be an important key to being able to control them well:

If I've been doing a lot of high distorted notes for maybe half an hour or longer, every now and then I find that it's a bit hard to get RID of the distortion. F.ex. one time during band practise we were doing lots of metal tunes and then we did Roxanne by The Police and I sang that tune like Axl Rose.

Opposite of this - I find that if I DON'T practise high rasp on a regular basis, it tends to be difficult for me to do it at will. I can often sing high CLEAN songs with little or no warm up, but adding distortion on that is often tough - unless I do tons of specific rasp exercises I've developed over the past couple of years.

Then the third interesting this is that quite often I can sing easily with high rasp just after I've woken up. It's like the false folds are closer together or something right after a good night's sleep.

So ... does anyone know more about how the false folds (or true folds - see later post) work in relation to how much you've been screaming lately, and how sleep affects them?

Two things come to mind as something that might be a good idea: 1) Perhaps it's a good idea to practise lots of screaming stuff right after you've woken up and 2) perhaps it's a good idea to regularly practise specific distortion exercises (in your car, f.ex.) and not only practise clean stuff and the hope the distortion will be there when you go on stage.

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I guess what I'm saying is, does someone believe that the false folds (or true folds - see later post) can be trained in such a way that fairly little effort has to be made in order to get them to vibrate and create distortion?

I guess some guys like Steven Tyler and Sammy Hager have their false folds closer than other people, after having screamed so often and regularly. Or perhaps the muscles that control the false folds are more under control for those guys? Does anyone have the details of how this works?

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@jonpall I can't offer any explanation of the physiology concerning the false cord musculature, however, I have been trying to find out as much as possible about false chord screaming for the last few months or so. It seems to me that relaxation and lots of support help me to engage them, although I can only do that at lower pitches. I wasn't aware that singers like Tyler used false chord; to me it sounds more like a fry, especially at the pitches he uses it. From my experience, which is limited, I have found the need to use quite a bit of air to get the false chords going.

This video is a great demonstration of using the false chords effectively. Although it is just screams and is not used on pitch in this video, I still hope it can be of some use.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9stEy6GBsvA

As I said before, I have limited experience with this, but have been trying to find out as much as possible. What I've said may not be fully correct, but has been applicable to my experiences. I find it hard and frustrating talking about this topic, as everyone seems to achieve it in different ways and most of the screamers have figured it out using trial and error and are unable to explain exactly how they achieve the sounds.

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I should add, the new "The Four Pillars of Singing" 2.0 has two lectures on vocal distortion. Two types we call the "Overlay" which is similar to a Chris Cornell sound and the "ESP" (Extreme Scream Pitch), which is a FVF effect. This can get you started on some distortion.

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1) Perhaps it's a good idea to practise lots of screaming stuff right after you've woken up and

Perhaps not.

2) perhaps it's a good idea to regularly practise specific distortion exercises (in your car, f.ex.) and not only practise clean stuff and the hope the distortion will be there when you go on stage.

Most certainly - in my experience.

perhaps the muscles that control the false folds are more under control for those guys? Does anyone have the details of how this works?

... I can hear the echo of your question ... hope this one gets an informed answer.

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Thanks, Thanos.

Here I'm doing a similar exercise with another song, this time an Aerosmith song with slightly less distortion, making it more "rock" and less "heavy metal", and I don't make as many mistakes as in the first clip. It's also probably a bit more "manly" sounding, in the direction of Paul Rodgers, away from Brian Johnson:

http://www.box.net/shared/ysa4a00qv2ygol7v2fbe

Again, note that I don't do this AS well as the original, but perhaps someone will find this interesting. The highest note is B4 or so. Distorted melodies in the passagio area are a bitch to pull off, IMO.

This is a bit of an advanced exercise, though, so that's why I do several, easier rasp exercises first, usually, most of which I've designed myself, using info from various sources.

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In hindsight - my rasp might not necessarily be produced fully by the false folds or even at all. It's quite likely that it's produced by the true folds and CVT would call it creaking. I know for a fact that the method of "overtwanging" can actually produce creaking and not distortion (of the false folds) in some cases.

So for my questions about the false folds and sleeping, etc. - I'd like to modify the question a bit and include the true folds as well. :)

Basically, I'm guessing that right after you wake up, your throat is automatically a bit more compressed than usual - and also after screaming your lungs out with your band for a long time. Or what do you guys think?

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In the journal section of the main site, I viewed Steven Fraser's analysis of a film and the soundtrack of someone scoping Steven Tyler while he "screamed" and Ab5 (I think it was.) Anyway, Tylers folds were meeting in the middle. At one end was an aperture producing the Ab5. At the other end was another aperture producing a signal that was not a harmonic to that note. It was a "noise" note produced simultaneously. In other words, Tyler gets that sound at his vocal folds and I don't think the analysis concluded that he had false folds involved, though I coud be wrong.

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jonpall - I don't know if it's false folds or creaking. The exercise sounds great..cool way to develop the technique.

I don't know if you get this or not: sometimes if I'm coming off a cold or if I'm tiring myself out - during clean practicing in the saprano range C#5 to G5 - I'll creak out a distortion once in a while. I don't do this on purpose as I'm trying to sing very clean. But the distortion or whatever it is, sounds really cool. I'm not trying to activate the false folds, and I'm not trying to twang, so I think it must be what CVT calls creak. The problem I have is it's unintentional and a result of losing control. So I try to avoid it. I'm a little freaked out that if I actually worked on it, I may unintentionally slip into this distortion more often. But maybe the opposite is true. What you said about working on distortion up there could stay with you unintentionally scares me a little.

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In the journal section of the main site, I viewed Steven Fraser's analysis of a film and the soundtrack of someone scoping Steven Tyler while he "screamed" and Ab5 (I think it was.) Anyway, Tylers folds were meeting in the middle. At one end was an aperture producing the Ab5. At the other end was another aperture producing a signal that was not a harmonic to that note. It was a "noise" note produced simultaneously. In other words, Tyler gets that sound at his vocal folds and I don't think the analysis concluded that he had false folds involved, though I coud be wrong.

Ron - here is a video with a scope on Tyler's folds. Are those the false folds flapping like that?

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Not that I could see, Geno, though I am not an expert. It looked like the actual vocal folds were visible at all times. And, possibly, it would have been difficult, if even possible to have flapping FVF with a scope down your throat. And, from what I know, the FVF are only engaged when you swallow. Again, I could be wrong.

As I said before, I was reciting what I understood of Steven Fraser's journal entry, though I could have misunderstood that.

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