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Is this the correct way to add rasp/grit to vocals?

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Insight
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Hello,

Is this the right way to do that vocal rasp/grit? Some examples of people who do what I'm attempting would be Austin Winkler of Hinder, Scott Weiland of Velvet Revolver, Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, and David Cook from American Idol. I'm not trying to do metal screams. What I'm looking for is more like a bluesy "horse voice".

I've experimented with different methods of doing the rasp (most of them hurt), but this one seems likely to be the correct technique. To do it, I have to relax my throat pretty thoroughly, and then just "aim" my voice at slightly different angle, and it starts vibrating with that grit. It feels like it's coming from slightly above my vocal cords, but I can't tell if it's my false cords or soft palate that is vibrating. I have to keep my throat relaxed or it doesn't happen. Because of this, I'm having difficulty doing it with more volume and at higher pitches, but I think it can be done.

Here are two examples of me trying it:

http://www.mediafire.com/file/zmzzzy0myqz/rasp.wma

http://www.mediafire.com/file/nnbtoyozmzn/rasp2.wma

There's another, different, technique that definitely seems like the false cords, but in order to do it, you have to raise the larynx a little, tighten the throat slightly, and pretty much yell, and even though it doesn't hurt, it vibrates rather intensely and if I don't release it properly, it becomes purely throaty and tears up the cords (then it hurts), so I'm trying to learn alternate methods. The more air and volume with this method, the better it seems. The main drawback to this method is that when I do it, even if it's just a few times, it knocks out my ability to do anything more delicate, especially falsetto.

Examples of this technique are Ian Astbury in Fire Woman by The Cult:

And Rod Jackson in Been There Lately by Slash's Snakepit:

Notice how Ian Astbury and Rod Jackson seem to be unable to do the grit/rasp unless they're yelling, but people like Chad Kroeger and Austin Winkler can apply a raspy sounds even in calmer slower songs, like "Lips of an Angel". This shows that they're using at least two different techniques and is what I'm trying to accomplish.

Am I on the right track or am I way off?

Any thoughts and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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I suggest you train this kind of stuff with a teacher, there are many who teach it. The idea is however always that it's an addition, you need to be able to transit from that to a clear tone. Also it needs lots of energy and concentration, if you can't give the energy, it'll hurt.

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I suggest you train this kind of stuff with a teacher, there are many who teach it. The idea is however always that it's an addition, you need to be able to transit from that to a clear tone. Also it needs lots of energy and concentration, if you can't give the energy, it'll hurt.

I will certainly second that. As far as volume is concerned, IMO that is one of the things that the mic is for... giving you gain!

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Insight,

I don't know if you are familiar with CVT??

In CVT there are four vocal modes (just like gears in a car). Each of thesse modes have their special sound in relation to how much "metal" there is present (other would maybe call it chest-presence).

And distortion is something you add above those modes. That means you can have an airy sound with distortion all the way up to a very loud sharp piercing sound with distortion. It's all about what mode you choose and then adding the effect of distortion. :)

I agree with Elrathion and Steven that it's best to train that with a vocal coach. But if you are very failiar with your voice then just go ahead and experiment - just reember that it musn't feel uncomforatable in any ways....then you are doing it wrong. :)

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Im a complete amateur, so take my words at your own peril.

IMO: You're trying to do what is usually called the vocal fry, which is a common technique for learning adduction of the vocal chords, i.e. bringing them together for correct or near correct placement to vibrate well.

However, you seem to be making the sound a little too much by bubbling phlegm, and I think your larynx is raised and strained a little too much for the chords to be flapping raspily - but you're almost there. The way I do that is to try to get that Coverdale lazy, rasping groan that he likes to start off notes with, which seems to work well for me.

When I get to a place where my throat muscles seem completely disconnected from any effort, I can let the vocal fry tone drop really low and I can feel my chest vibrate. I also try to keep the fry at the same place/height when the note ascends in pitch, and try to concentrate on experiencing the vocal chords zipping up towards the back of the throat as the note gets higher in pitch instead of experiencing the larynx moving up with the tone.

You can hear me starting off most sentences with a vocal fry, which seems to put my throat in a comfortable place, particularly on the first word, second line "I will" - you can also hear me slipping and losing that place on the high note and lifting and straining my larynx and "splatting" the note:

http://media-mobi.com/en/?play-wurkw0z4c00436qt4vpj5o50sp8dh2rx

Anyone more in the technical know is welcome to correct me on this.

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Elrathion,

You're right about the teacher; I've been looking around for a good one to learn from lately. Anything in particular that I should be looking for in a teacher, as far as it relating to my objectives in this topic?

Steven Fraser,

That's true. I usually try to be concious of whether I'm forcing my voice, but it's good to be able to have some power even without a mic. Adds confidence, at least for me.

Martin H,

No, I hadn't heard of CVT before, but I researched it a little, and Cathrine Sadolin seems right on the mark. I'm looking forward to purchasing her materials, as they definitely seem relevant. It's too bad CVT doesn't hold seminars here in the US. Thanks for bringing that product up.

Matt,

I was experimenting a little more with that sound I was making, and I think you're right - it is fry. There's no phlegm while I do it however, even in those examples I posted. I'm just relaxing the fry "mechanism" a little more and then pushing up "under" it with the diaphragm/stomach. I'll play around with what you mentioned and see what I come up with. Good singing, by the way.

Thanks for the replies people, I appreciate it.

More replies are welcomed.

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Id say anyone who can demonstrate going from pure tone to distortions a few times in a row and who can give a sensable explanation, that's a first requirement.

SECONDLY, you need someone with a GOOD EAR. Someone who can hear when your coordination is off. There's many people I can suggest for it. CVT: any authorised teacher [go to their website, book a skype lesson]. SS: Jesse is prolly your cheapest option, he's good at distortions too. I haven't heared Robert or Jaime do them, but I'm sure they both master it :>

I think however that CVT has the most complete vocabulary and the most alternatives to distortions. Most other techniques I know off only do distortions in NEUTRAL or "headvoice" , CVT will teach them in all of their 4 modes

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to me this is a good example of a singer singing from the vocal fry placement pretty much all the way, on pretty much all the notes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwTmULt22Ng

I think thats the rasp you mean, or at least the same place in the throat. To me anyway, thats a very comfortable place to sing from, though hard to not slip off from it.

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to me this is a good example of a singer singing from the vocal fry placement pretty much all the way, on pretty much all the notes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwTmULt22Ng

I think thats the rasp you mean, or at least the same place in the throat. To me anyway, thats a very comfortable place to sing from, though hard to not slip off from it.

I am interested in this topic, too. I'll take a listen when I get back to Dallas. If it is a fry, I will be able to recommend some techniques to accomplish it safely. I'll post one way or the other.

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Elrathion,

CVT sounds like the way to go. I'll check it out.

Matt,

Yes, that sounded similar to what I'm looking for, only it was a lot more subtle. Obviously once the technique is understood, one can work on variating the intensity of it though.

Here are two good examples:

"Better Than Me" by Hinder

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mr4VEbt4zSw

"Come On, Come In" by Velvet Revolver

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy_Wl6vOFvg

Are these guys singing with fry or something else?

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Here are two good examples:

"Better Than Me" by Hinder

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mr4VEbt4zSw

"Come On, Come In" by Velvet Revolver

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy_Wl6vOFvg

Are these guys singing with fry or something else?

Insight: To my ear, something else. Juries out just yet on what... needs more listens. In the case of the Hinder song, I think I hear some audio effects processing applied to the voice, perhaps even a bit of what we would have called 'fuzz' in the 60s, but applied to a voice instead of a guitar. If this is not the case, then the lower pitched sections sound to my ear like a breathy rasp, which could be accomplished either by heavy registration but incomplete adduction (i.e., leaving the back part of the vocal process slightly open) or locking the back end and overblowing the chest voice, forcing a very long glottal open phase.

I hear in the VR recording much clearer singing than in the Hinder one. In the VR soloist's case, I think he is singing with a high closed-quotient that would come from using good adduction, reasonable registration, but not very much airflow. The singer adjusts nicely into the upper range, so that the lower voice connects to the medium and upper well. On a technical level, even trained as a classical singer, I know how this sound is made.... it would be what would result if I 'bore down' on the tone diaphragmatically, the kind of gesture that makes the abdomen washer-board hard. This motion reduces the airflow, overcontrolling it, so that the closed quotient gets longer.

Just as an FYI to all, the 'vocal fry' mode of phonation does not carry pitch well... it sounds more like rapid pops or pulses. If done at a medium pitch level, sounds like one of those teeny gas motors that are used on RC airplanes as they are starting up, and has a very high closed quotient, i.e., the glottis is closed a long time in each cycle. When the singer adds just a little bit more airflow, it snaps into into modal voice... and the pitch and tone quality become very distinct.

Personally, I like the use of the fry as a technique for helping the singer understand and experience adduction when singing. My own starting point in these discussions is the 'say the note' approach. In my experience, many young people (and I mean under 20 here :-) ) overcomplicate the process of starting a note, they go too far in making singing different from speech. For those folks, I do onset exercises in the lower middle voice, and have them just say the vowel on a pitch, just like they were talking it. As one TMV-er wrote, we have much more practice with the 'shorter-thicker' configuration of the vocal bands than the 'longer-thinner' one.

Once they have it, we reduce the dynamic level progressively until it is soft, but still clear, and then begin to move the pitch around. In experiencing that, the student discovers that the sensations change, and the response of the voice in different pitch levels feels differently to them, but as long a the basic mental gesture of starting the note does not change, those adjustments happen pretty automatically and smoothly throughout the scale.

So, I am really a fan of using the vocal fry as a way to reconnect the singer's thinking back to a 'no frills' phonation. Once that is incorporated until its automatic, then more advanced vocal effects (i.e., crescendo !) become much more easily accomplished.

I'll look around for more examples of singers who exhibit noticable 'fry' component in their singing, and post some URLs back here.

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the two well known methods i know of that teach rasp, growl etc are as mentioned before- catherine sadolines work CVT and mellisa cross´ zen of screaming i think its called.

i see rasps etc as effects that can be added to the voice rather than a whole foundation of singing, so i think its a good idea to get some foundation in `straight` singing first and then learn to add rasp and such. i also think that you should not get too locked in to producing an effect and should always have a choice of singing it straight or with added effect. i guess the exception to those rules might be if your singing exclusively in a death metal of hardcore style but even then i would imaging some traditional vocal exercises may be benificial.

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Seems to me that the velvet revolver vocals are sung quite powerfully, but with quite a lot of throat tension to create the rasp, e.g., thers a bit of shouting going on, but not enough to ruin his tone.

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Steven Fraser,

Really great post.

If this is not the case, then the lower pitched sections sound to my ear like a breathy rasp, which could be accomplished either by heavy registration but incomplete adduction (i.e., leaving the back part of the vocal process slightly open) or locking the back end and overblowing the chest voice, forcing a very long glottal open phase.

Hmm, could you give me an example of "locking the back end and overblowing the chest voice"? Perhaps a rephrase. I don't quite follow what you mean.

I've been experimenting in the recent past with incomplete adduction though, as you mentioned here, as this is somewhat how it sounded to me. A little difficult though.

In the VR soloist's case, I think he is singing with a high closed-quotient that would come from using good adduction, reasonable registration, but not very much airflow. The singer adjusts nicely into the upper range, so that the lower voice connects to the medium and upper well. On a technical level, even trained as a classical singer, I know how this sound is made.... it would be what would result if I 'bore down' on the tone diaphragmatically, the kind of gesture that makes the abdomen washer-board hard. This motion reduces the airflow, overcontrolling it, so that the closed quotient gets longer.

Is the airflow reduced because of the adduction resistance? If so, is this damaging to the throat at all? Or is there a specific placement or something that reduces or eliminates damage/irritation?

Just as an FYI to all, the 'vocal fry' mode of phonation does not carry pitch well... it sounds more like rapid pops or pulses. If done at a medium pitch level, sounds like one of those teeny gas motors that are used on RC airplanes as they are starting up, and has a very high closed quotient, i.e., the glottis is closed a long time in each cycle. When the singer adds just a little bit more airflow, it snaps into into modal voice... and the pitch and tone quality become very distinct.

I've been trying to find ways of slowing it down, because it does indeed sound like those little motors. Now that I'm pretty sure that I was doing some form of fry manipulation, what do you make of my attempt in the opening post?

CentreOfTheUniverse,

i also think that you should not get too locked in to producing an effect and should always have a choice of singing it straight or with added effect.

I agree, and that's ultimately what I'm after. I've seen the Melissa Cross material before, but the style of rasp/grit she teaches is somewhat different than what I'm looking for - it's a lot harsher and not as melodically applicable, in my opinion. Martin H mentioned CVT earlier and from what I've seen from it so far, Cathrine Sadoline's distortions are a lot closer to the bluesy-gritty sound I'm asking about.

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Insight: By that, I mean fully adducted bands that are given too much air to cope with. Thinking about it a bit more, IMO its probably pretty difficult to do without reducing the adduction, unlocking of the glottis.

Breath energy, adduction and registration all come together to result in a specific pattern of phonation, including a ratio of the open/closed phases of the glottal motion. What I am describing is reasonable adduction and registration, but an undersupply of air pressure. The resulting phonation pattern has a high closed phase because the air supply is not balanced with the laryngeal adjustment.

If the singer wants to correct the laryngeal adjustment to match that level of pressure, then that can be done. The result would be a balance of the 3 items for a softer note.

I'll have to go back and re-listen. Stay tuned.

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So you wouldnt say this guy is singing from a cackle placement?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwTmULt22Ng

Matt: I listened to it. Its pretty hard for me to tell whether he is approaching this with a 'cackle'. The range is just a bit too low for me to grok that. It _does_ though, sound like a firm adduction with a low intensity level, and the kind of tonal balance that goes with that. To my ear, its balanced (even showing some vibrato!), easily done, and an effective tone quality for the mood of the text & overall energy level of the sound. As a contrast, he even lets up on the adduction a bit, so that the edge on the tone softens.

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Yeah, you mean he lets up in the last verse on the adduction?

Matt: Yes, just a little bit, but I don't think it was for the whole verse, just a note here and there. I was not listening with my 'tonal consistency' ears on to profile where and what he did. It just seemed to me that he let it get a little less edgy for contrast/effect.

The ability to do that in the middle of a note is an advanced skill. Its much easier, though, to train the skill to make different levels at the moment of tone onset.

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The gritty style vocals is pretty much my thing......

Example-

The best times I get this tone going is when- A) I don't warm up at all, or B) I warm up 3 hours before a gig, then 15 minutes before actually singing...

Believe it or not, I'm actually relaxed that entire clip....there's a few words here and there where I'm just pushing everything out of me....but the verses are pretty much straight out relaxed. (Even the high pitched screaming).

I don't use vocal fry or anything like that....

While 'working the mic' is definitely part of my style, it's not something I can rely on from night to night. There's only so many ways to hold a 58....ya know?

The biggest thing I've learned over the years to maintain this vocal style is a SHITLOAD of water. If I'm good and moist, it doesn't take any throat pressure to create that raspy tone. (I know....I'm promoting good hydration after posting a vid of me singing with a beer in my hand...)

Personally....I feel the raspy thing comes from the energy/feel behind the song.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello people,

Been occupied for awhile, hence no posting.

I'll post up some examples soon of what I've been doing lately, as far as this rasp/grit goes.

Until then, here's another example of some grit. Live this time, instead of studio recorded.

Is this soft pallate action? Or is it caused by twanging the sound until it "grits"? Something else?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lNfXF_hCFU&NR=1

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According to CVT this is "creak distortion" (also called vocal fry grit).

The soft palate is NEVER used as a vibration source in these effects. Only when you use the "Rattle efect" the soft palate will vibrate. (because the back of the tounge touches the uvula and creates friction). Joe Cocker uses "rattle" a lot :)

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In my opinion,try to concentrate on getting rasp without using your vocal chords for it.Try to get while your voice resonates

by "pushing" resonance to the bridge of nasality(Im not an ENT or anything and I only know how my own voice works,so you might need a bit of"figuring out"on this)I dont know if this is what Martin wrote(the "rattle"),but you should be able to get that "flipping" raspy voice without the pressure on vocal chords,thus making it what you might call "safe" ;)

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here is a better vid of what hinder is doing: (i think he suffers an aneurysm at 3:59)

i'm interested to hear if the coaches think this is a healthy grit or not. i used to sing this song every gig and i would add grit and, for me, i had to be very careful not to get too carried away. i find if i get the gritty tone by "pushing" or "forcing", ..i'm in trouble by the end of the night, ..but i've found if i apply the grit without any push or force, ...i'm ok (usually). it's sometimes harder said than done, ..especially "in the moment" of a live gig.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I know what you're saying about getting too carried away.

Like most young metal heads like me, I just went for it. A scream? How? You scream! Push!

It's taken me years to realize that to create a lot of the sounds I was going for was achieved a lot easier if I warmed up properly. I discovered the vocal fry one night by using a really hot mic and that really picked up the pace.

The biggest thing I've learned though, is to NOT push....if you're already at the point where you're getting a bit gritty without effort....why go for more? Unless you want that much more....then...well...warm up more. ;)

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