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Will My Vocal Cords Heal, or are they Permanently Damaged?

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Pizzafish
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I got into music listening to grunge and post-grunge types of music. Bands like Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Breaking Benjamin, and Tool were my bread and butter, truly. So naturally when I decided to try my hand in being a vocalist, I looked to these people as idols of sorts. As anyone who knows these bands has probably already infered, these bands have a great deal of growling and rasp in them, and I tried to (mind you with out any formal instruction) perform these techniques. For a solid month, I would come home from school, drop my bag and coat, go down to the basement and plug in my guitar, and scream my head off. I of course swiftly realized that's it's not that simple, vocal cords are fragile, at least mine are. I stopped all extreme vocal endevours, though I still strain my voice alot to reach high nots Later on, my love for rock music brought me to some all too popular themes: weed, cigarettes, and alcohol. Although not for a hugely long period of time (about four months), I used to smoke weed a default of twice a day (not two bowls, literally two smoking sessions a day, so about .5 grams a day). I also smoked cigarettes, although only casually, for about a year. I still drink, but not habitually, just rarely. During my smoke "window", I started to experience vocal problems (Pain during ALL phonation, breaking in voice, vocal fatigue, ect.) and obviously I freaked out. I've slowed down my smoking considerably since then. I haven't had a cigarette in six months, and I only smoke weed once in a while, I'd say every three weeks. Despite this, I'm still experiencing all these symptoms, and it doesn't seem to be getting better. It will fade in and out, sometimes my voice will feel fine, other times it feels like someone is shooting my vocal chords with a pistol when I talk. So a few questions are in order: 1. How do these artists (with special attention to Mr. Cobain) blast the shit out of their voices, drink, and smoke, and still sing like gods? 2. Will my voice ever heal? 3. If so, what do I do to help the process along, and prevent strain on my voice?

Update: This is just something I thought I'd toss in, in case this has anything to do with it. It happened sorta gradually, and it poked it's head out even before I smoke or drank, and way long after I'd pushee my voice all those times. It started out as a lump in my thoat, and swallowing was kinda hard, and this was after the first time that I'd smoked ever, so it couldn't have been that. Then across a summer it went from feeling a little vocal fatigue (which I continued to barrel through like a brainless ninny) to complete loss of all vocal stamina, and chronic throat pain. Since then it's sort of on and off, but it doesn't seem to be chronologically in sync with my cannabis and booze celebrations, even when I was still getting stoned all the time. I was thinking about this and it made me think to add this in: My Father suffers from a caliber of Acid Reflux that redefines the term Chronic, and it's wrecked his throat pretty badly in a matter of about 5 years or so. I thought it might be important because genetics

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First off, and I can't say this without hurting your feelings, possibly, but Kurt Cobain sang like a wounded dog, in my opinion. It's like he completed his "anti-corporate" music stance with like the "anti-singing" stance. And if he had not been so selfish in his "misery" to put a shotgun in his mouth, he would have had to wise up and start singing a different way. Otherwise, his voice would have gone the path of Evan Seinfeld from Biohazard. Evan did give himself permanent damage that cannot be repaired.

As for smoking, even life long smokers grow new lungs within a year of stopping smoking. Your drinking is probably less than even moderate. And you will do yourself better if you do not smoke weed just before a singing session.

Honestly, I don't think your consumption of party materials is causing the problem in your voice. I think it's the trying to match the "singing with pea gravel" sound of early grunge. Post-grunge, or grunge mach 2, like Creed, you can hear actual technique and proper singing going on. That's why Scott Stapp can still do everything he did 20 years ago. Granted, he knows he is a baritone and stays within what his voice will do, which is not a limit for everyone else. But he did choose to stay in his artistic range and sings with studied technique.

Alice in Chains. Hate to tell you this but Layne Staley studied singing and most of his singing is actually clean and not a lot of rattle sound. The key to what he did was resonance and loads of it. And vowel modification.

"Jaay-eeehhh, sehs Chrast, denah ya makah...." ("Jesus Christ, deny Your Maker ...")

Questions 2 and 3 are inter-related. Yes, your voice can heal, possibly without surgery. You can help it by not screaming and shouting but singing.

I am not condoning your use of substances, though I would advice not partaking in those until after a singing session. Mainly because those substances are relaxants that can make you too relaxed and you lose proper control and coordination of the voice from being too relaxed.

Man, all this teaching is making me want a cigarette ... and a drink .... (don't do weed anymore, not since 1994)

:D

And I am not a teacher. Just someone who speaks from experience. "Living the life I was born to live ...."

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And furthermore, I think the whole grunge thing was a corporate packaging thing. Nirvana might have qualified as grunge, along with the other punk-style bands. But AIC, Pearl Jam, Creed, to me, they are Led Zep inspired hard rock.

Wearing Doc Martens and flannel is not all there is to grunge.

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