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Vocal Distortion Demonstration - Robert Lunte Masterclass

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Robert Lunte
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Filmed about a week ago in Munich, Germany... let me know if you have any questions. The techniques are explained in "The Four Pillars of Singing" 2.0. Just remember, healthy vocal distortion occurs by producing noise in the vocal tract, not by grinding tissue. Hope this helps...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBH4fwl3kNU

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Nice job on that, Rob. You've really got this kind of distortion down and can teach it well.

I've always had a question though and maybe someone can help. The sound you're getting is a more screamier kind of distortion, which works fantastic in a metal or hard rock sound, but the sound I've always wondered about is more of a blues grit that is used in Gospel, Soul, Blues, and some Rock. I used to be able to get something close to that, but I found most singing teachers and methods were teaching this other sound. Like you described the 'layered' one.

Is that kind of sound less healthy, harder to teach, or less documented on how to achieve healthily? I always found this sound kind of by pushing a bit between the 'i' on sit and the 'eh' as in pet. The first few times I did it, I got a bit hoarse, but I eventually learned how to place it where it didn't really seem to effect my voice. Still, I had no idea what was actually going on so it always made me wonder if it was unhealthy.

When I would do it I'd get more of a sound like 0:55 here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6hEcDt8HZI

But the 'ideal' sound I'm talking about would be more like in 1:27 right here:

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? Not sure... the David Bowie one is not healthy, that I'm pretty sure of... the second one is different, it sounds a bit healthier. You know, these guys don't have "vocal distortion" training, chances are, its more tissue grinding.

Ok, thanks, Rob. Nice to know. I'll keep that in mind as I've always wondered. I like the sound (kind of prefer the sound), but it's usually not the same 'sound' as the kinds of distortion people are teaching for the more metal sound. Which might be because it's unhealthy or less known how to apply in a healthy way.

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KillerKu, when you do distortion, watch out for a) a clenched throat and B) breathiness. You want neither of those. Then you can do a very big variety of distorted sounds just by changing 1) the amount of distortion and 2) the underlying vocal mode, i.e. the the non-distorted underlying sound (chesty, heady, crying, twangy, operatic, etc.). That means that you CAN do a more bluesey rasp which doesn't grind your throat any more than metal screams do.

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Oh, and Rob - cool video! Your obviously a good lecturer and it seems that the crowd is enjoying it. It's a bit strange though that people, especially girls, tend to laugh when a vocal coach is showing distortion. It's also like this in some other distortion lectures from other vocal coaches, held in front of a crowd, especially in Europe, that can be found on youtube. I guess that screaming at people, even in the context of a demonstration, just triggers some emotion response from them.

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JonPall, I like your advise to killerku on how to capture other kinds of distortion... I totally agree, so long as the underlying phonation is healthy, the distortion that overalys on top will have a better go of it and it is reasonable to conclude that if you change your vocal mode, you would produce a different flavor distortion using the same fundamental techniques... good stuff!

Thanks on the presentation. Yes, my masterclass is also a "show"... its there to entertain people as well as educate... I still don;t know what it is about distortion that gets people so hot and giddy... but it seems to be a big hit with the masses...

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KillerKu, you could also just do what Robert is showing in this video and then just pull back on the distortion until you have the amount of rasp that you want. You may want to pull back so much that the distortion is BARELY audible or even further - past audible. Then, most notes will be clean, but becausee your're so "close" to distortion, any extra intensity on certain words and phrases will bring out just a bit of that bluesy, soulful rasp. You can try this and see where it gets you. Also, if you want to experiment with putting "chest" or "belting" into the sound at such a high note, you can try to do that if you feel that this gets you closer to your ideal sound (which is what some of those old singers were actually doing), but just remember that you shouldn't do anything that hurts your throat and you DO need to increase twang and decrease the "vocal weight" as you go up in pitch.

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Thanks Jonpall. You had a great smokey rasp there in a Zeppelin clip I saw. It's been at least 3 years since I made this noise, and I only recently figured out in CVT terms that I might have been singing between overdrive (eh) and curbing (ih) too loudly for curbing which might have been why my voice distorted. You were in a thread that I read this in, actually.

I really wish I would have known a lot more (and been trained) in voice before I had tried any distortion at all, but I learned almost all of my useful voice education 'after' gaining my voice problem (chronic throat spasms/tension/pain). I didn't know who Lunte was at this point, I had searched for singing teachers in my area, couldn't find any, and had never heard of CVT. The only knowledge I had was some Bel Canto info earlier on, and Speech Level Singing material, that was introduced within a month of my voice problems.

I've been trying to narrow down what the problem might have been if there was anything I did that triggered this. The fact that I would use distortion without a proper education occasionally, is one of those things on my list of 'uncertainties.' I have a clip of when I used it, up in the voice review if anyone is curious, singing Heroes (comes in the latter half, 3:48 especially).

http://soundcloud.com/killerku/heroes

I didn't go hoarse or feel pain (and my vocal cords are fine, been looked at), so I doubt it's responsible for the long term problems I'm having, but it's been in the back of my mind as a "what if."

Anyway, thank you. I appreciate it. And Robert, I think distortion is one of those preference things, for me it came kind of naturally when I got extremely passionate in my singing. So for some people, they tend to relate the voice breaking up with emotion, but everyone has very different tastes. I was always an extremely emotional singer, which is probably the most dangerous kind of singer to be. I might have paid for allowing my emotions to guide me above my technical knowledge, or it might be unrelated to my voice problem. I still don't know and thus far the doctors don't know either.

Bottom line to people out there, get trained, get educated, don't mess around when there are people who can help you achieve your goals safely. Choose that education carefully. It's not worth the risk.

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I've heard it many times that distortion in the human voice is a subject that has yet to be explored and understood to its fullest. F.ex. whether it's the false folds that's causing rasp for some singer or not, can be debatable, just to take one example.

You are also correct that there is another way to get rasp, besides "overtwanging" like Robert Lunte is doing, and that is to sing with a "hold/cry/moaning sound" and give just a little bit too much energy/volume/openness/intensity than what that particular vocal mode/configuration can handle and therefore the sound distorts. Many of us here would call that creaking, if we're in an analytical mood.

I've always felt that raspy vocals are pretty much all done with a) some form of isolated throat constriction like twang or cry and B) added energy.

Ultimately, rock singing is about singing your heart out with a relaxed throat and lots of energy.

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Yeah Jonpall, I remember it didn't hurt, feel pinched or clenched, or send me hoarse. It's just my current situation that has me paranoid.

I've had to second guess a bunch of things I did back then even though at the time, I felt on top of my game. I still think that's one of the best singing performances I ever did, as ignorantly or possibly incorrectly as I did it. I was feeling that a lot, and the girl I was singing it to cried upon listening. Absolutely what I wanted to say emotionally and sound wise.

I just wish I could reverse this current problem and get back into this stuff with the technical knowledge to keep me safe. I wasn't a bad singer in those days, but you guys are great and actually know what you're talking about this time, where as back in the day, I might have heard a vague idea from a random person, and go try that. Most of the time that worked or didn't work and I'd move on, but I guess my luck might have ran out.

Anyway, I'd like to thank Robert for this forum and his passion, his knowledge, and his skill. And obviously the rest of you on this forum, I've grown to love CVT terminology too. You are all doing great things. If I had started just a bit later, I probably would have a found a place like this and could get myself on the right track in a healthy way via lessons and feedback. I remember when the only information I had was opera info. If I did anything else it was 'wrong.' Rock and metal vocal instruction is very important to the health of singers because when you feel it in your soul like that, that you're not an opera singer, I had trouble taking everything they said to heart, even though some of it was very good information.

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I remember when the only information I had was opera info. If I did anything else it was 'wrong.'

Same with me. I was always paranoid about doing anything rasp because the general consensus from the knowledge base back then was that it would eventually ruin your voice. What I love about CVT is they've debunked that myth, and developed the techniques to avoid the unhealthy aspects that could harm your voice.

Do you still try things with your voice KillerKu? Are you making any progress however slight it may be? Maybe Catherine could help you?

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I liked your demonstrations, Robert. As well as the inhale sound. When I was younger, I would do that to imitate a chimpanzee. I had not thought of it as vocal punctuation in a song until the last few years.

And I agree with the opinion on the distortion of the other artists. It is coming from scraping or bumping of tissue at or near the folds. As opposed to your overlay, which happens quite high in the vocal tract.

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Yes Ron, correct. I will be adding more distortion information to "Pillars" 2.0 that addresses how we make distortion in the chest resonant areas, its different then overlay... and actually, more risky I believe.

If I can get any distortion or rasp, it will either be from overlay, which happens for me at about the uvula, or from over driving the note through twang, which is nearly the same thing, for me. Or not all. Otherwise, I shall be a clean voice in rock and roll, a la Rick Emmett (Triumph.) I plan to still sing at least a B5 40 years from now (I am 47.)

As for riskier distortion, I know it's there and many have made a 10 year career from it. Did I say 10 year? Oops...

I know someone is going to come along and mention Steven Tyler. He doesn't do that be design or any particular technique. In fact, he leads into some high notes with his own "falsetto." Simply put, he's a freak of nature, a product of genetics (I can't stop myself. Somebody, stop me...)

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Rob!

I luv your demonstration! It seems there is a really fine atmosphere on your clases. Singing is fun after all.

Also, I like that distortion types you're showing there.

Could You tell me please did you have been working also on a "low gritt" types like in trash/death metal songs?

I am a huge fan of Russell Allen and his type of low gritt. Even thought he is a low tenor he sound sooo huge like lower voice.

Wish to find such sound

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGlqH-P96ZU

Or lower here -->

Regards!

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Russel Allen sings actual melodies (with grit) as opposed to death metal singers who just scream and there usually aren't any underlying notes or melodies - just noise. Usually I hate death metal vocals, sorry. Just producing grit is so, so easy, but doing it in the context of a melody, with some high notes in particular - and with power - that takes skill.

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Russel Allen sings actual melodies (with grit) as opposed to death metal singers who just scream and there usually aren't any underlying notes or melodies - just noise. Usually I hate death metal vocals, sorry. Just producing grit is so, so easy, but doing it in the context of a melody, with some high notes in particular - and with power - that takes skill.

Oh.. I should not mention death metal. I Know what you mean. I don't like dath metal after all. Besides this band (don't know why) -->

As we talking with my friends from polish vocal forum - we guessing that Allen using creack and overlay distortion at ones. What you think?

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I think Russel Allen might be the most polished distorted metal singer I've heard. He has really great control and stamina. Whatever he's doing is very effective, you're probably barking up the right tree there Daug.

It honestly sounds to me like he 'might' be using something similar to Rob though. Have you tried the overtwang thing flat out? It sounds pretty 'layered' a lot of times. He might have some of the creaking stuff in there, I dunno, but he sounds very 'metal' and not very bluesy to me. Very Dio ish:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5okuTlGTv50&feature=related

I'm not a fan of death metal either. It's not because it's 'easier' to do, it just doesn't sound very musical to me. I like melody, harmony, and phrasing in vocals. Even hip hop often has a more musical phrasing (I'm a drummer and love rhythmic phrasing), than the kind of four on the floor screeching you hear in a lot of these types of metal.

Oh and Rob, if you 'do' put the kinds of distortion of which you're less sure about the long term health in your method, you should consider saying this, just to warn people. I know it might make you seem less godly or infallible in your knowledge to the average reader, but at least to me when someone can honestly say what they know (how to create grit, etc), but also be clear about what they don't know (it might be riskier), I've always had the greatest respect for those viewpoints. I'd hope others would have the maturity to respect this.

My theory is most of these effects people are doing, are probably things that most people 'could' do fairly healthily if they did it exactly right, but it's not what the average person finds intuitive or even what many teachers would know how to teach safely. A lot of this stuff is also on the level of where you can have some ignorant kid (like I was) experimenting with endless 'sound effects' and hurting themselves.

So I totally understand why you have caution here, and I respect that greatly. You're a very good teacher when you're thinking about things like this. It's just on the other hand, people are going to do it anyway, so any knowledge about how to do things in 'the most healthy way known' is important and protects people too.

Me, I've said this before, but I really like CVT's approach. I have a more scientific mind in general, but I imagine a grade A beginner grabbing that book and endlessly screwing around with their voice, constantly risking injury, because even if all of the scientific research they put in there is correct, if you do 'any' of their techniques wrong it's bad news. And some of them seem a lot easier to screw up than others (especially distortion).

I'd also advise singers of all kinds to not get obsessed with grit/distortion/whatever. It's cool, but it's not at all required for good singing. If you never really get into this stuff, people like me could be a fan all of the same if you could show some passion in your singing and we like the tone. It's not the holy grail of singing so don't get too worked up over it. If you really have trouble getting it and truly want it, getting some lessons with the right teacher would likely help a bunch to try to make sure you do it exactly right. But if you're a voice tinkerer like I was, beware, and don't go a mile a minute trying to get every single sound and note possible. Listen carefully to your body and relax. I'm not sure any exercise, technique, or method is going to be able to do that. You've gotta do that and that's gotta be your number one goal.

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Same with me. I was always paranoid about doing anything rasp because the general consensus from the knowledge base back then was that it would eventually ruin your voice. What I love about CVT is they've debunked that myth, and developed the techniques to avoid the unhealthy aspects that could harm your voice.

Do you still try things with your voice KillerKu? Are you making any progress however slight it may be? Maybe Catherine could help you?

Just caught this, I've tried repeatedly over the past 3 years. No progress so far. Catherine would be great, but I'm in the USA, in debt from doctor's visits, and likely too poor. I'm going to try to contact Joanna Cazden first.

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Rob!

I luv your demonstration! It seems there is a really fine atmosphere on your clases. Singing is fun after all.

Also, I like that distortion types you're showing there.

Could You tell me please did you have been working also on a "low gritt" types like in trash/death metal songs?

I am a huge fan of Russell Allen and his type of low gritt. Even thought he is a low tenor he sound sooo huge like lower voice.

Wish to find such sound

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGlqH-P96ZU

Or lower here -->

Regards!

Hello. I'm pleased you enjoyed the vocal distortion demonstration from my recent Munich Masterclass. The tour has been a big success, everyone seems to really have a good time and love the information I am sharing with them and their follow up private lessons. I have one more full day in Switzerland and then Im home again, been gone for four weeks. One thing people may not realize that have not worked with me is that there is an underlying sense of humor in my work... the idea that vocal training can be fun and funny is part of the TVS experience, glad you noticed.

I can make the thrash metal sound, but have yet to develop a pedagogy around it to publish. The TVS distortion techniques will continue to develop, we are working on some new ideas.

Are you a client of TVS?

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I'd also advise singers of all kinds to not get obsessed with grit/distortion/whatever. It's cool, but it's not at all required for good singing. If you never really get into this stuff, people like me could be a fan all of the same if you could show some passion in your singing and we like the tone. It's not the holy grail of singing so don't get too worked up over it.

"Ahhhhh-men"

And here's a good example of a heavy metal performance without really much distortion. In fact, the tone is really clean, as much as I can hear.

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

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Oh, that old thing? Thanks Ron, its ok... I look forward to getting more new original content online soon... gonna hit it hard in 2012... I think I have to redo my Gethsemane as well... a real classy production in the studio for Youtube'rs.

In "The Four Pillars of Singing" 2.0, I have offered an essay called, "The New Definition of Vocal Distortion"... I take the opportunity to point out that the younger generation have termed distorted vocal sounds as "screams", but due to trends, have completely missed that the point that, back in the day... a "scream" meant a really high pitch. With the emergence of a new distorted definition of "scream", I felt it would be important and useful to singers if I created two categories of screams; the "ESD" (extreme scream distortion) and the ESP (extreme scream pitch).

With these definitions, the old and the new can coexist and clarity can continue, instead of confusion.

C'mon you old school guys... remember when a "scream" was something you heard on "The Ripper"??? These kids today.... ? :rolleyes:

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Hello. I'm pleased you enjoyed the vocal distortion demonstration from my recent Munich Masterclass. The tour has been a big success, everyone seems to really have a good time and love the information I am sharing with them and their follow up private lessons. I have one more full day in Switzerland and then Im home again, been gone for four weeks. One thing people may not realize that have not worked with me is that there is an underlying sense of humor in my work... the idea that vocal training can be fun and funny is part of the TVS experience, glad you noticed.

I can make the thrash metal sound, but have yet to develop a pedagogy around it to publish. The TVS distortion techniques will continue to develop, we are working on some new ideas.

Are you a client of TVS?

Thanks for your reply!

No. I'm not a customer of TVS. I'm just a self-taught amateur. I like to collect as much information and insights from different angles. Therefore, I look at these forum. I found here many interesting observations. Thanks to You, and users of the MVF.

Thank you!

Regards!

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