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Beating a dead horse...(vocal grit)

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derekreno
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Ok, after today I'm absolutely convinced that some people are born with the natural ability to do this. I run a recording studio in my spare time and had a vocalist for a band I'm working with come in and just completely nail it...Dave Grohl style, Chester Bennington style, just awesome. Anyways, me being on my quest for the holy grail of rock singing, ask him after our session how he learned to do that. His response was "I dunno, I've always been able to do it." Never took a lesson in his life. Grant it, he topped out around an A4...but a gnarly, gritty one. I guess this is just more me venting than it is another "how to" thread...lol

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Born with it.... learned it somewhere along the way of his life.... makes no difference. He can do it, and you can do it too with practice.

Trust me, one year ago I would say no way in hell I would ever be able to do any of the things I can do now with my voice. And I'm still not that good :P

Just stay in there through the good and the bad and eventually you will astound yourself.

Cheers!

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I would agree that some are more born with it but I also think anybody can learn it. Same with vibrato.

IME you gotta kinda find your individual ways of doing vocal effects though. I have found a specific way of vibrato and I guess one and a half specific ways of distortion that work for me, and I actually do them best when I'm not over thinking it but just hearing in my head the sound I want to make.

IMO when you are doing vocal effects correctly, you will feel as if you were born with it. Even though in my case I was totally not and had to learn all of this. But I learned it through experimentation more than technique. So in the end it feels fairly intuitive.

Just my take on it. I'm sure many people have successfully learned all the vocal effects in the CVT book or whatever, coming from a technical place, but for me personally, I just gotta screw around attempting an effect for a couple weeks, months, and then eventually the effect will just start showing up.

Maybe the guy wasn't quite born with the effect, but just doesn't recall the experimentation process behind finding it. Or he knows that he experimented to find this distortion but couldn't explain it to you technically. I couldn't really explain to anyone the ways I do distortion and vibrato, but I was certainly not born being able to do them immediately.

You see it's not that the ability isn't there in everybody, it's just the some people haven't found it. It's like when people claim they don't have a falsetto or head voice. Of course they do, they just don't know how to access it.

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@Owen - that's a good way of putting it. I would guess that when it finally clicks, I'd prob have a hard time describing how I did it too...especially if I really didn't have any knowledge of the voice.

@jonpall - yeah dude, I've been putting in the work for a looong time now, lol. I suppose one of these days it'll pop in there :D

...back to experimenting

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There are many types of distortion. The one that is going to FIT your voice and your style can only be found by experimenting. Having said that here are some different things to experiment with.

Vocal fry; just barely close the vocal folds enough to make sound. Gives a sleepy worn out sound. I think that would be better at a low volume. Others may use it different.

False fold distortion;The area above your vocal folds are vibrating.

Soft Palate distortion; soft palate vibrates.

Nasal distortion; You can close of the nostrals by sqeezing them together. Squeeze just enough for this area to vibrate.

Some people allow a little moisture to form at the back of the throat by the root of the tongue. they sing through the moisture creating distortion.

Some people allow the uvula to vibrate.

Sing soft but use more pressure. Like you are pretending to yell across the room but keep the volume down.

Experiment.....

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Hey Derek I think when you get your voice without grit to a stable consistant point which you are probably getting pretty close. You could concentrate on the grit thing more. It's the same thing a balancing act. You have to balance it through your range and some place are gonna be easier than others. But if you have trouble with A4 and Bb flat in a clear tone your not going to be able to do it great with grit

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There are many types of distortion. The one that is going to FIT your voice and your style can only be found by experimenting. Having said that here are some different things to experiment with.

Vocal fry; just barely close the vocal folds enough to make sound. Gives a sleepy worn out sound. I think that would be better at a low volume. Others may use it different.

False fold distortion;The area above your vocal folds are vibrating.

Soft Palate distortion; soft palate vibrates.

Nasal distortion; You can close of the nostrals by sqeezing them together. Squeeze just enough for this area to vibrate.

Some people allow a little moisture to form at the back of the throat by the root of the tongue. they sing through the moisture creating distortion.

Some people allow the uvula to vibrate.

Sing soft but use more pressure. Like you are pretending to yell across the room but keep the volume down.

Experiment.....

Vocal fry is actually just barely adding enough air to adduced folds to make a sound. The folds are actually closing more than in modal voice. Anyways, we already know it by the sound.

This nasal distortion thing is interesting. It is not covered in the CVT book if I recall correctly, and they cover a lot of types of distortion. Any chance you could put up a sound file of it? I wonder how it sounds. I'm attempting it now and I can't do it...

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@owen - I figured that might pop up, lol. Thing is, I can do "that" sound. I've switched up my singing technique as of late. I used to either yank chest up pretty high to get that effect, or use straight head voice with some false fold in there. Now that I've kinda "rebuilt" my middle voice, the same technique doesn't work there anymore. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't complaining, just frustrated that someone with no singing background just nailed the stuff ;)

@daniel - I know man...patience. G-A# are popping in there pretty good now, the dude yesterday just made me wanna jump the gun again, lol

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@owen - I figured that might pop up, lol. Thing is, I can do "that" sound. I've switched up my singing technique as of late. I used to either yank chest up pretty high to get that effect, or use straight head voice with some false fold in there. Now that I've kinda "rebuilt" my middle voice, the same technique doesn't work there anymore. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't complaining, just frustrated that someone with no singing background just nailed the stuff ;)

@daniel - I know man...patience. G-A# are popping in there pretty good now, the dude yesterday just made me wanna jump the gun again, lol

Just curious, in what way have you "rebuilt" it? The middle of my voice needs a lot of work so I'm always open to learning what is working for others.

Perhaps the distortion just isn't coming yet because this new technique hasn't totally settled in yet on your clean singing?

And there will always be guys with freak of nature voices that are born doing things trained vocalists would give an arm and a leg for. In these situations you have to remind yourself that most of the time you can train to do what they are doing, but you have to accept that you may have to work a hundred times harder to get there if you weren't lucky enough to be born with that ability. If I didn't have that belief and perspective I probably would have given up on singing...it's so valuable to removing the negativity and envy and allowing me to keep pushing forward at my own pace.

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Just curious, in what way have you "rebuilt" it? The middle of my voice needs a lot of work so I'm always open to learning what is working for others.

Perhaps the distortion just isn't coming yet because this new technique hasn't totally settled in yet on your clean singing?

And there will always be guys with freak of nature voices that are born doing things trained vocalists would give an arm and a leg for. In these situations you have to remind yourself that most of the time you can train to do what they are doing, but you have to accept that you may have to work a hundred times harder to get there if you weren't lucky enough to be born with that ability. If I didn't have that belief and perspective I probably would have given up on singing...it's so valuable to removing the negativity and envy and allowing me to keep pushing forward at my own pace.

Basically, I've spent years with several vocal programs. The ones that encourage bridging early left me with a very pharyngeal sounding middle voice, which I didn't like. So I moved on to the "bridging late" stuff, which worked better for me and I got the sound I wanted. But I got to the point to where I was pulling chest way to high...pretty much belting out a B4 if I had to. This was back when my old cover band was working every weekend, and voice was shot by the 4th set.

Anyways, I've actually been working with Daniel here on the forum. He's actually helped me a lot with my middle voice.

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Vocal fry is actually just barely adding enough air to adduced folds to make a sound. The folds are actually closing more than in modal voice. Anyways, we already know it by the sound.

This nasal distortion thing is interesting. It is not covered in the CVT book if I recall correctly, and they cover a lot of types of distortion. Any chance you could put up a sound file of it? I wonder how it sounds. I'm attempting it now and I can't do it...

I think I got the idea for the nasal distortion from Tony O'Horas' video on how to sing like Coverdale.

Most of those distortions I have not had any luck with. I tried to start a thread on Distortion techniques but no one wants to discuss how to do these things.They keep going back to getting other things correct first. (Which I do agree with).

But distortion Techniques are still technical skills to be learned and trained.

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i will discuss it with ya MDEW but ya gotta hit me on skype you cant write this stuff down. Tony had a cool video but he knows(we had the discussion) it is really not nasal its in the throat the nasal is just to make sure you breathe through it

Thanks Daniel.

I realize that I do not know how to do these things. They are from what I have heard described. The sensations of vibration can show up in places far from the source.

I am still trying to find a place to Skype from where I feel comfortable enough to make odd noises.

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I once did a song that was in my regular guitar set that had some natural rasp to it, mostly on the highest note. Not one person commented, ever. Because it didn't sound like Axl Rose or David Coverdale or Joe Cocker or Brian Johnson or name your favorite singer with "grit."

I've not been that interested in cultivating grit as an effect to dial in and out.

True, I am also emotionally moved by the dichotomy of choir boy voices and gut-wrenching gritty choruses that both Dave and Chester are known for.

And as far as I can tell, Dave does that live, no tricks.

I watched a Foo Fighters documentary and at this show, you can see him freaking out at playing such a huge crowd. Even Dave gets stage-fright. And he was freaking beforehand with the thought "We're playing Wembley (explicitative) Stadium!"

My favorite in the band is Taylor. Dude invented the drums.

Edited to add: well, you don't get to see it in this vid. This was the first song of the set. And in the doc, you see the next few moments where Dave hides his face behinds his hands, like he must be dreaming. And in retrospect, he points out that he is beside himself. The biggest crowd they have played at a place that is legendary. How did this band get this far was exactly his thought.

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Ron, now you got me watching the whole show.

I seriously wonder, how has Grohl never had any major vocal problems. If there is anyone who can make a testament to the ability of the voice to develop strength and resistance by just beating the shit out of it, it's him.

In all seriousness, I think he naturally got lucky and found a super healthy distortion technique and that became his safety net. In the same way that we use head voice, he is using distortion. Think about it. He activates it right around the passaggio and the higher he goes the more pronounced it gets.

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Ron, now you got me watching the whole show.

I seriously wonder, how has Grohl never had any major vocal problems. If there is anyone who can make a testament to the ability of the voice to develop strength and resistance by just beating the shit out of it, it's him.

In all seriousness, I think he naturally got lucky and found a super healthy distortion technique and that became his safety net. In the same way that we use head voice, he is using distortion. Think about it. He activates it right around the passaggio and the higher he goes the more pronounced it gets.

Exactly! This is what I was getting at. Grohl is a freak of nature, I have seen him bail on the gritty stuff and do it clean though. That's a good analogy though, him breaking into distortion as a release, like others would break into head voice.

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I really am watching that entire Wembley concert right now.

One thing that is notable is that at about 45 minutes in, there is what I think is an obvious period of Dave giving his voice a break.

They stuck a guitar battle and drum solo inside a tune. Followed by an acoustic tune in a lower range, followed by an old less popular tune in a lower range. Then they bust out My Hero, that's the only exception to this rest period, where he goes back to his full out scream singing for a full song length. Then he introduces the band. Then he has Taylor sing a song. Then Everlong, where he sings the first two choruses an octave down, as it starts with just him and a guitar.

The intense singing comes back in for good at roughly an hour and 15 min in.

Coincidence? Highly doubt it. What we have here is a dude who knows how to build a setlist around his personal vocal stamina.

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If you guys are looking for answers with saving your voice when you are gigging alot and have to sing many different styles. Just hit me up I have gigged alot more than these guys. I would love there touring schedule seriously..

Any type of grunt, distortion, rasp or extreme sound you are going to make is going to cost you. I know first hand. Don't be afraid of this embrace it and learn to deal with it..

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Another point is the pacing of a show and the set list and where the "hard" songs are. And this happens in opera, too.

As I mentioned before listening to some interviews with some of the leading sopranos of the 20th century. Their own vocal arrangement was subject to how much of the role that night required working in the upper end of the range and it what part of the show. To where they might take it easier on the lower parts and save the oomph for where they really need it. Even after training 10 to 20 years (many of them started in their teens), there is only so much endurance in the voice in an evening. And any kind of grit or distortion or whatever carries the danger of damage. At least that is what I have read and understood. From pretty much any vocal instructor we know about.

But I expect someone to come along shortly, and prove me wrong. That's cool, too.

See, I think, even if you find a safe way to sound damaged, that's okay for a practice session. Or a recording session.

Night after night for 1.5 to 2 hour show? You are going to get tired and start compensating, whether you realize it or not.

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One of the many

http://audioinkradio.com/2012/02/foo-fighters-dave-grohl-vocal-problems/

That was the only one I found from him and it's not to the extent of nodules/polyps/surgery

I think one can expect if you are singing like him you're gonna have some problems. But there are people who don't sing nearly aggressive as him who have had to stop their careers and get surgery and months of vocal rest while for the most part Grohl's still hanging in there after 15 years, singing all the songs in the original keys, never had to see a surgeon, etc...

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