How To Sing With Distortion – 10 Powerful Tips
This may be one of the most important posts I can make and here’s why:Many people want the “fast track” to distorting their voice, this is VERY dangerous and could cost you your voice altogether.
By definition; Distorting our voices is another way of saying “distressing” our vocal folds (cords).
There is only one way to do this “safely”…
1) Understand a good command of “Open Throat Technique.” This is a concept I cover thoroughly in my singing course. We must learn to keep the throat open at all times and not “clamp down” on the vocal cords and throat, pinching and squeezing the cords / glottis.
2) Support: I know I keep emphasizing this but it couldn’t be more true for this application. Learn powerful abdominal support and strength. I cover this in my course as well as a brief description in a recent Facebook post. This will help relax the chest neck and throat and free you up to start singing with a gravelly voice.
3) We must build a clean powerful sound FIRST before we can start to compress (distort) the voice. It is suicidal to go straight to compression (distortion) without first building this key component into the voice.
4) Air Management: Another critical element to singing with distortion. The over-use of air is the greatest enemy of the voice and is what causes inflammation and the drying out of the cords. Once inflammation and dryness occurs, we slam more air across the cords repeating a vicious cycle in order to squeeze out the note which leads to hoarseness, loss of good cord closer and even eventually nodes. Learning to “Hold Your Breath” when you sing to manage this air is crucial to keep this cycle from happening.
5) Understand there are varying degrees of grit (distortion). Some may only want that “smokey” texture to their voice while others may want to have a “heavy” distorted sound. Recognizing these degrees of “compression” / distortion is the path to achieving this safely.
6) Once we have established good “Open Throat”, “Support” (and relaxation response), Have built a powerful “Clean Tone” and proper “Air Management”, we can now start to “lean” into the sound, compressing air in the glottis as well as “holding” / cutting back air in the lung. (i.e. glottal compression)
7) The initial sensation will be like when you are “calling out” to someone far away but with the techniques described above. The more you “belt” safely with this clean tone, you will notice a “smokey” tone start to develop in the voice.
8) Remember I said it is is downright dangerous to want the fast track to distorting your voice. In order to do this safely, we must allow the voice to maturate over time, building in distortion in “stages”. This is not something that is down in 6 months. We start first with that “smokey” harmonic distortion and little by little add a little more “weight” to the sound. This is how you build this sound safely over time.
9) It is crucial to put moisture, resiliency, flexibility and agility back in the cords in order to “clean up the voice” to maintain good vocal health. We do this by working up various exercises with a “clean tone” (no distortion) to bring back this flexibility and moisture in the vocal folds (cords). If we neglect to do this, we will build a “stiffness” in the cords and will sentence ourselves to always having to sing in a distorted tone.
10) Hydrate your cords. Drink plenty of filtered room temperature water when working up this sound. No carbonated beverages, alcohol, or acidic drinks. This will also aid in providing the diversity to sing in both clean and distorted tones.