TUITON IN TOUGH VOCALS
Rock & Metal Singing and Dynamic Speech
need to be stretched in order to get the best out of your voice. Your
singing will never be reliable if you only stick to what you can already
do. The easy things will not continue to be easy; you need to have notes
in reserve. Your tone, your control of the sound, your ability to sing
in tune, even your continued ability to sing notes you used to find easy,
will all depend on day-to-day luck if you never tackle anything difficult.
means: extending the range (of notes), building up the power, and developing
confidence in your dynamic expression. ‘Dynamic expression’
means acting: looking and sounding as if the number you are singing means
something, even if it doesn’t. You want the sound to be right for
the number: you don’t want to sound like a polite choirboy or choirgirl
if you’re doing heavy metal; you don’t want a death-metal
sound when you’re singing a smooth ballad – not even in a
rock ballad. Also you should be able to move easily from one to the other
– hard to soft rock and back again, all in the same number –
this is acting. Most singing is acting, when you come down to it: acting
with the benefit of a lot of singing technique. This does not only mean
singing loudly, important though that is; surprisingly, quiet singing
is often much more difficult; but you must exercise the loud high notes
first or you will not get hold of your highest notes at all. For men,
the highest notes are the loudest; women are able to soften off their
highest notes, which most men cannot do. Having tackled the high loud
notes, you can then work on the more subtle and smooth sounds in the middle
of the voice. Stretching the loud range has to be done first.
some singers are good at high notes to start with, and have an enormous
range of high notes. Many such singers (not all) are dismayed by the weakness
and silliness of their sound. It has no depth, no guts. They need to work
on the chest voice (the low notes), which will darken the sound of the
whole voice. With the right training, you can open up the deep dark sounds
without loosing any of the top notes. Stretching has to be in both directions,
up and down. Singers who stretch the range get better as they get older.
The evidence for this is overwhelming, in rock as well as classical singing.
Singers who don’t stretch don’t get better; they either hang
on or their voices age badly.
difficulty is in finding a singing teacher who knows how to stretch you.
Sadly, most singing teachers make very little difference. Every time you
try something ambitious they accuse you of ‘forcing’. Well,
it’s the teacher’s job to teach you how to stretch without
forcing. You go to a singing teacher for three things: to find out what
is available in your voice; to tap into the accumulated knowledge of centuries;
and to be taught how to do it. When a teacher says, ‘You can’t
sing both high and low,’ it really means: ‘I don’t know
how to teach you to sing both high and low.’ If there’s somebody
up on stage doing it, the chances are that you too can do it: They don’t
have anything you don’t have – assuming they’re the
same sex as you!
is not the same as forcing. To stretch yourself you need to develop skills
and technique. You need to exercise the power muscles instead of using
the neck and shoulders. This takes prolonged work. You need to drive out
all the old habits, such as making the voice entirely in the throat; you
know the old saying, ‘Old habits die hard?’ well it’s
true. Habits that you’ve built up over years and years are not going
to leave you in five minutes. Most of the work in singing is done from
the waist down, a long way from the delicate structure of the throat and
neck. All singers can build up skills and technique if they work hard
enough; and, after all, we are all capable of working harder.
Kain is a trained singer who has appeared on stage and screen as both
actor and singer; and has fronted a number of bands. He has taught in
several colleges of performing arts, most notably at:
Technical Development Tutor (vocals) at A.C.M. (2000-2)
• Head of Vocals at BIMM (2002-4).
career divides neatly into two sections: twenty years of performing; twenty-one
years as full-time teacher and writer. To date he has sold over 25,000
books on singing.
"What are you waiting for?"