Rock Vocal Technique

Rock has to be loud, it has to be powerful and a rock vocalist needs to be larger than life on the stage. A good rock vocal technique allows you to scream sing, yowl and growl in harmony without damaging your vocal chords. Without a proper training and warming up, the vocals sound week and the voice becomes strained.

rock vocal technique
Flickr: Rob Boudon

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Relaxing your throat column is vital in rock music. Vocal space, or an open voice, allows you to move up and down the scale and change the sound of your voice without damaging your chords because everything is loose and open. Sing the word ‘sigh’ as though you are yawning, which opens your throat and raises your palate. Now sing “oooh, oh”–a long O followed by a sort O—quickly together. Put the yawning “sigh” together with the “ooh,oh” and repeat several times. Feel your vocal chords and throat open up.

Long notes also punctuate many rock songs. Proper breathing is the key to mastering these notes without becoming breathless and weak sounding. A common mistake is inhaling too much air before launching into a long passage or note. On stage, breathing too deeply while moving around leads to hyperventilating. Practice taking smaller breaths more often. Before beginning a long note, take a normal breath then immediately launch into the note. You will be able to sustain the note longer than if you took a deep breath before hand. Overly-inflated lungs do not help your singing and instead stress your voice as your body strives to expel the excess air.

An often overlooked rock vocal technique is energy. Energy has to come from inside you. It is what feeds the power and emotion of the song, and like everything in rock music, the emotion has to feel bigger than life. On stage, you can often feed off the energy of the crowd. But what if you are just practicing or your crowd needs some convincing? You follow the advice of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and you “Fake it until you make it.”

Close your eyes imagine something that makes you angry. Choose a mental image that really gets you mad. Now sing, holding that image in mind. Focus your anger on every note. Then, change it up. Imagine something that makes you happy. Allow yourself to laugh as you sing. Practice the emotions until you can conjure up the right one for the song at will. Also, if your singing seems emotionally flat, try moving around. When your body is expelling energy, your voice follows.

Like any singing method, mastering a rock vocal technique requires practice and dedication. Set aside daily time to work on your singing and before you know it you’ll sound like a rock star.

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