Singing With Emotion Part 2: Rock & Roll

Singing with Emotion Part 2  

In part two of this article we will cover 6 popular Vocal/ Music Styles and some of the techniques used for each style. There are many different styles of singing. Some singers excel at one or two particular styles while others can round the scope on various different styles. This will be a personal choice that you will have to make as a singer.  I always liked versatility so my goal was to become as versatile as my talent would lend.  That meant extensive study in various different genres. You may decide you love Jazz for instance and do more study on techniques and style for that genre, or some of you may decide Rock ‘n Roll is what your voice is suited for and it’s your only interest, or you may decide you want to be able to sing Opera, or Pop with some R&B.  When it comes to your singing style, there is no right or wrong. These articles are designed to help guide you down whatever your musical path is and enjoy the journey while achieving your vocalizing goals.


Rock n Roll

Whether it be the heaviest or the lighter side of rock n roll, vocal technique and breathing are key to any style.  I cannot stress enough how important learning to breath and project your voice properly are, in assuring a long vocal career in this genre of music.

Bad habits, sloppy mouth formation and singing entirely from the throat not using the diaphragm will result in strain and in many cases, permanent damage to the vocal chords. Remember if you feel pain in your throat when you sing then you are not approaching the notes or phrases properly.  The majority of every live vocal performance should be done in proper singing form in order to preserve the singers voice.  You need to learn to preserve and pace the voice, especially if you’re touring. If you have to perform 4 nights in a row, all heavy style rock that requires a rasp technique, octave jumps, ascending and descending sirens with power, and some switches to the head or even a falsetto will need to well thought out and practiced in advance. To be able to make these transitions not only smoothly but be able switch from a rasp technique to an octave jump takes work. Using rasp too often can cause damage however when used stylistically in conjunction with proper breathing and singing techniques, rasp can be an effective way to create your unique style of singing. 

Ascending and Decending Sirens

In other articles and in our FREE Video Singing Lessons, I wrote about head voice and falsetto, and how the sound and vibrations resonate around the middle of the forehead to the top of the nose area, with an open flow of breath from the diaphragm straight to the forehead.  Another technique commonly used in rock singing is the Ascending and Descending Sirens; The ascending technique will take you from low to mid range right into the highest of head-voice notes smoothly while Descending is the reverse, taking you from the high head-voice notes to some lower bass notes. The desired affect will have no transition noises; no breaks in breath and can carry an octave or more in one swoop. 


Another effective technique used in rock singing is Octave Jumps. Basically that is when you are on a note, for example middle C and you jump to the next note – one octave higher, in this case to high C. To do this requires a good push from the diaphragm and an open throat to allow the sound and air to pop from the lower note to the higher with an open sound, while your voice is very controlled. The technique of Octave jumps is usually done quickly.

Rasp Technique

The rasp technique is used in many different styles of music and can be effective in creating the mood of the song or accenting certain words to create an emotion. The rasp technique can be done by squeezing the back of the throat tight and making a raspy sound with your voice. The more effective and less damaging way to do this is to use that squeeze technique sparingly, along with using saliva to coat the throat so the vibration is being made by the saliva in the back of the throat (similar to a gargle), thus creating a raspy sound with less damage. This takes some practice and if you feel any pain, you should stop immediately.   To save your voice and vocal chords you don’t want to be using this affect all the time or you will not have a voice left by the end of a tour, not to mention you will be in a lot of pain and can cause permanent damage to the vocal chords. The less strain and squeeze on the throat – the better! I have included some You Tube links of each technique done properly by some of the world’s best rock singers. These singers are great to practice along with.  This song will give you an example of Rasp used to create emotion, style and intensity.  You will also hear open vocal scale runs which are great to practice along with. All the notes are open and in specific places the rasp is incorporated.  This song requires good breath control and endurance and provides a great example of all the techniques I have been talking about in this article, as well as many more.

Octave Jumps

 Check out: This song has examples of octave jumps, how the singer creates atmosphere with softness and more aggressive sounds as the song builds. The notes at the end show a great example of a descending siren that starts on a higher note and descends to a lower with little to no transition noises, while the notes flow smoothly in one breath.


 NOTE: the first note hit in this descending scale attack that top note dead on with power and confidence; it does not swoop into the note. The higher passage in the middle shows a great example of notes having an open sound in the higher head-voice register. This song requires great breath control and diaphragm control and uses many great rock n roll techniques for you to try . song has everything I have been discussing in this article, great use of emotion, the vocal dynamics (volume and power) build in intensity throughout the song, a proper use of rasp, and uses a quick technique of a quick squeeze of the throat with a burst of air from the diaphragm to support the top note, as well as the use of saliva and vibration in the throat to create a raspy sound. This should cause you no strain or pain at all to achieve. The higher notes should resonate in your upper nasal cavity. A full open sound from the diaphragm to the upper nasal cavity where the vibration should be resonating and you will feel a tingling in the upper nasal cavity and forehead. 


Check out these great examples that you can try to sing along with great use of rasp accents and feel great use of natural vibrato and note extensions


Try this …

Take a song and practice it in sections. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t complete the song on a first or second try.  Sing the song all the way through, find out where your trouble areas are and practice those areas in sections until you are comfortable with the full song. Remember you need to be able to hear yourself so refrain from using the popular style head phone units like the ipod for practice purposes. You cannot hear properly when you are listening and singing along with headphones.

You should be able to hear the music your listening to and what you are singing in order to remain consistently in key.  

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