Who sings the song Growl

6 facts about guttural singing - our tips

The basics of a healthy voice tug

Shout, Scream & Growl

(Photo: Shutterstock, GlebSStock)

In rock and metal a lot of work is done with the whole variety of distortions in the voice. Extreme effects like growls or shouts are an important part of these styles of music. Okay, don't chuckle ... let's scream. But how do you proceed now so that the vocal cords are not damaged? Unfortunately, there is no secret recipe for this, but with my tips, tricks and above all exercises that you will find in this section from now on, the right "screaming" will be easier for you. With a little practice and trial and error, you can determine what is good for your voice and what is not.

In general, the following applies:

1. Confusing naming

Shout, Scream and Growl are the slang terms used to describe the distorted vocals used in rock and metal. There are other terms like Pig Squeal, Grunt, Fry, Yelling, Fals Cord Scream and so on - all of these belong to the umbrella termguttural singing. This includes the entire technique of larynx singing, which is produced with the pocket ligaments (also called false vocal cords). For the time being, I will limit myself to the first-mentioned terms.

Shout means in German simple calling, which can be distorted or clean, i.e. undistorted. This technique is most commonly used in rock. The shout is very energetic, versatile and can be singed over several registers.

Scream is the high-pitched screaming that feels more like the head voice and doesn't sound very melodious.

Growl, also called grunt, is a distorted effect in the lower layer. This "bad" vocals can mostly only be found in metal. It can be varied in sound form, but is rather limited in melody due to the deep vocal range.

2. Things don't go well for long without technology

In the rock sector, the trained singer is always laughed at because everyone can shout, according to popular belief. In principle, however, this is not correct. Most people did not have healthy screaming in their cradle, and only a few singers can maintain a career with a distorted voice without any problems. I am also telling you from my own experience. Before my training as a singer, I had no idea what to do with my voice and how. In my teens, as a singer in a punk band, I could barely hold half a concert without breaking my voice. I missed the important foundations of voice training, such as diaphragm training or relaxation in the neck and throat area. I pushed and forced, tried to sing in the wrong position and screamed out of my throat without the help of my diaphragm.

Basic training as a singer and learning your own anatomy is essential for long-term vocal health. A good training in breathing technique is first and foremost the most important thing to achieve adequate support and control of the air. Furthermore, the throat area and the correct activation of the vocal cords are very important points. This filigree organ is overused very quickly and can be permanently damaged if it is continuously and incorrectly stressed.

3. It works without technology (eh, how now ?!)

As always, there are exceptions to every rule. The perfidious thing about it is that as toddlers we can scream wonderfully healthy and for hours without us becoming hoarse and without damaging our vocal cords. Take care of a baby or a defiant toddler! Upbringing ("Don't scream like that!") Unfortunately gets in the way in our western society and we usually unlearn it very quickly.

In exceptional cases, a healthy crying technique can be retained and incorporated into a child's voice development. Of course, this is further enhanced by a large portion of musical talent. The musical history of the parents, the general relationship to music or the interest in making music are additional factors that are important for development.

The following example shows that a great interest in music and the playing of wind instruments are stimulating influences with which the singing voice can develop practically at the same time:

Ronnie James Dio was and is a great role model for many rock singers. Incidentally, the great singer of heavy metal has no vocal training, but is blessed with a wonderful natural tug in his voice.

4. Vocal anatomy briefly explained

Your whole body is the vocal machine. As with all instruments, many small details play an important role. Even positive mental attitudes are an important part, as are any limbs. The relaxed posture in the legs, arms, shoulders, neck, head and jaw provides an important basis for serving as a sound box. Loudness is achieved through resonance and diaphragmatic force. The formation of volume - and thus strength and breath control - is mainly done with the diaphragm. With extreme tones, the tension can continue into the muscles of the pelvic floor (the one that holds back the pee), loins, and buttocks.

The second important point for distorted singing is the healthy use of the vocal cords. The correct application of the tugging with the pocket vocal cords, also called false or external vocal cords, determines how long you can scream without problems. In the next article, I'll go into more detail about how to scream in a healthy way. First of all, here is a video, which is a good introduction to the whole topic and shows what happens in the throat when you scream.

5. Diaphragm training is the most important thing

As mentioned earlier, the diaphragm plays the main role in the support and further use of a distorted voice. The training for this is usually already adequately addressed in a basic training in singing. For guttural singing, however, it is essential to train a strong diaphragm. A lot of power is important, control over it is even more important. The right amount of air, the speed of the air, and awareness of capacity are keys to this control. Achieving control over air movement is facilitated by specific exercises. Patience and perseverance are required for this process. In my case, it took over a year before I was even somewhat satisfied with the result.

6. Autodidactics - Listen to yourself and your body!

Now we come to another important principle. Listening to yourself and your voice is very important for a healthy handling of the distorted voice. It's about hearing for yourself how it sounds and feeling whether it's not damaging. You can tell very quickly in the throat area whether what you are doing is good. If you notice an uncomfortable feeling or a break in the clean singing (for checking in between), you should stop immediately and try again the next day when the voice is smoother again. The feeling for this "false screaming" is a good guide for further development.

Various videos on the Internet explain how shouting, screaming and growling should sound and work. But these only serve as a source of ideas, listening to yourself and feeling for yourself is the extension of it. An example of such a channel can be found here. The tipster is sometimes a strenuous chatter, but shows it with very clear and healthy technique. As you read, it's not that easy to just start screaming. But do not be afraid of it and do not hesitate to enter this interesting area. I can assure you, it's worth it and it's fun. You get to know your voice in a new way. In my next article, I will specifically look at the training and exercises for healthy screaming in guttural chanting. Have fun trying it out until then :)

Your Stefan aka Johnny Matters