Harsh Vocals And How To Do Them Growling Screaming Piggy Squealing

I will try to tell you how to start with the harsh vocals as the start is, in my opinion, the hardest. Be patient and don't give up!

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Hey. In this lesson I'm gonna try to explain how to start with the harsh vocals (also called unclean vocals, death metal vocals, guttural vocals). I will appreciate any constructive criticism on my lesson. Let me start with saying that smoking will not help you. So please don't smoke tons of cigarettes just to get your voice harsh and then start screaming. You will most probably ruin your throat and will most probably never be able to sing again. LOL just kidding, you won't be able to talk normally again, ever. At first, before you even start yelling some incomprehensible sounds, you should learn to breathe properly. Most of the people are breathing with the lungs. But if you want to sing (sing in any way, not just in harsh vocals), you have to breathe with the diaphragm (thoracic diaphragm to be precise). The diaphragm separates the thoracic cavity (heart, lungs & ribs) from the abdominal cavity and performs an important function in respiration for more information please use the internet or the books (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thoracic_diaphragm). So, at the very beginning, just try to breathe the air into your diaphragm, that's the part where your stomach is. When you inhale, you shuld see your stomach moving up, when you exhale, the stomach should be getting into the normal position again. Help yourself with playing your arm on the stomach so you can feel the stomach when it's rising. Try not to inhale air in your lungs at the same time. That's breathing with the diaphragm. When you think you can breathe with the diaphragm, practice the breathing with talking, and later singing. Inhale in your diaphragm and start saying some stuff. You can do that in school when talking to friends. If you feel uncomfortable or if you are afraid of looking stupid, sing along with a song, using your diaphragm. It shouldn't take too long for you to master the breathing with the diaphragm. After some time youl will also start breathing with your diaphragm automatically, without you being aware of it. But this takes a little more time and is not so important to us right now. Now when you know how to breathe, you can almost start practicing. But before you do I'd like to tell you guys some more things. At first, of course, you have to decide what do you want to practice (which technique). When you know what you want to learn, I suggest you also take a look at some videos, find them on YouTube or just search with the Google. Before you start practicing, and during your practice, drink warm liquids. Your throat will get dry and you won't be able to sing anymore, that's why you have to drink a lot. My favorite drink during the practice is warm water with lots of honey in it. Just take a glass, pour some warm water in it, then take some honey, put it in the glass and wait till it dissolves. Honey helps the throat when it sores, so it's good even when you're sick. Some guys drink milk during the practice. It doesn't work for me, some even say it blocks their throats. Find your own thing that works best for you. Until you do find it, drink warm water. Don't drink alcohol! It can permamently damage your throat. You should know that there are many different vocals that can be considered as the harsh vocals. If you are reading this article I assume that most of you have already heard of the growl and the scream vocals. However, there are even more vocals, like piggy squealing or inhale growling. I must say that I am no expert and I will be glad if any of you guys comment and review my lesson and correct me if I am wrong because I need to learn some things aswell. I never did any inhaled growling and I suggest you don't try it until having a lot (enough) of knowledge. Singing can be very dangerous and even when singing clean vocals you can damage your throat if you don't sing properly. However, I did practice growls and screams, and I still do. I can do some piggy squeals, but I'm not very good at them. So I will just talk about growls and screams mainly, and add some information on squeals at the end. Growling (Used mainly in death metal) Growling is my favorite technique. If you can't separate growls from other techniques, here's an example of death metal growl. There are more ways of growling, that's why I will show you mroe examples. You should get the point: growls are the low pitched harsh vocals. (Sweet Sorrow) (Supremacy) (Noumena - Also some clean female vocals. This is an example of the beauty and the beast singing clean female vocals and very low growl vocals. Used in melodic death metal bands) Before you start you should know that your throat will most probably hurt in the beginning. Don't push yourself. In the beginning, only growl for 5-10 minutes a day MAXIMUM (even if your throat doesn't hurt at all). Gradually, you wil gain the ability to growl more time and your throat won't hurt anymore after 5 minutes of growling. When your throat is dry, drink something warm. If your throat will hurt you too much, stop growling. If you don't see any improvements in a week or so, or your throat will hurt after a small amount of time growling, you are doing something wrong. If you just can't get the right way to growl or your throat still hurts like hell, stop it forever. Some guys just can't growl because of their throat and vocal chords. In that case, I am sorry. Maybe you can try screaming instead? Now lets start. Stand up. Open your mouth as if you were trying to say something like O and U together (like saying youuuu). Push the air from your diaphragm out (sometimes it helps if you bend, I'm pretty sure you have already seen some vocalists bending over the stage on live performances). Then, try to get your voice as low as you can. Now that you can say the word you in a very low tone, say it again, but try to open wide your throat (just try it) and push the air our really hard (again with the diaphragm). You are supposed to sing with the false vocal chords. The frequence should be very low (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocal_fry). When speaking normally, you should feel how the vocal chords are shaking. If you speak in a higher tone, almost singing, the shaking should disappear. The lower tone you produce, the more shaking you feel. When growling, this shaking should be very noticeable. You should feel the shaking of your whole throat and even in the body. The vocal fry register is the lowest vocal register and is produced through a loose glottal closure which will permit air to bubble through slowly with a popping or rattling sound of a very low frequency. This is what we want to achieve. Just keep trying. You most probably won't succed in the first time, not even in the 10th try. Don't give up! Just keep trying. Open the throat, push the air out, try to growl. Practice. Take a look at some videos if you think that could help. I needed a lot of time just to do something that sounded like a growl. You have to find the right way. When you do, keep practicing. Let me just say one more thing: at the beginning, you will most likely know only how to say O and U when growling. Again, keep practicing. When I started I couldn't say the vowel E, like end. I kept saying and and I was very mad at myself. Later, I learned that too. I just had to practice. Yeah, practice is the key. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Many growling metalheadmothaf--kas tend to get their growls as low as they can. For more examples of very low growls please check further Noumena band. Growls don't have high amplitudes and of course it does help if you can growl very low so you can then use different tones of growling and make your vocals sound not so. The changes in pitch are more used in scream techniques. BUT there is one more thing you should train with growls: the ability to do long growls. For this, you have to train your diaphragm and your ability to inhale as much air as possible. Growls use 3-4 times more air than talking. Another thing that you can train when growling: The sound of the growl. You shouldn't immitate other growlers, you should find your own sound at first. Don't be ashamed! When you master your growling, you can do some experiments and immitate other growlers. Just experiment with your voice and later use the sound you like the most. Mixing growl and scream This here is an example of a vocal that is not a growl and is not a scream, it is something inbetween. Try this when you can alreay growl or scream. It should not be hard once you learn one of those two techniques. You can use this technique in a lot of metal styles. (Godscard) Screaming There are many many ways of screaming. With this few video examples you should get the point of screaming. It's Screaming. The high pitched harsh vocals. Here are some examples I gathered: Death metal screams (Hypocrisy) (Nightrage) (Arch Enemy female vocalist) Depressive metal scream (Sociopath) Black metal scream (Carpathian Forest) Screaming is the most used harsh vocal technique besides growling. Breathing is the same. Diaphragm, blablabla. Read it above. The start is also the same don't push yourself too hard and only do 5-10 minutes a day screaming in the beginning. Andi f I may repeat myself: When your throat is dry, drink something warm. If your throat will hurt you too much, stop screaming. If you don't see any improvements in a week or so, or your throat will hurt after a small amount of time screaming, you are doing something wrong. If you just can't get the right way to scream or your throat still hurts like hell, stop it forever. Some guys just can't scream because of their throat and vocal chords. In that case, I am sorry. Maybe you can try growling instead? Once again, don't try to imitate other guys. Find your own voice, that's really important. When you do find it, decide which technique of screaming would you like to use. Then, master it. Lets start. Inhale the air into the diaphragm. Open your mouth as if you were trying to scream, like aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Scream like when you're in pain. Now, do the same, but close your throat. The frequence should be here also lower than when speaking normally and you should feel the shaking, but not as much as when growling. The keys to succeed are practice, and keep trying. When you will be able to just scream, try screaming other vowels and eventually lyrics. All is pretty much the same as when growling. It's just a different technique the throat is not widely open. Screaming also uses less air than growling. What to do when you can scream? You can always practice your ability to inhale more air so your screams will get longer. Unlike growling, pitch is quite important in screaming. Do some scales with screaming and increase your amplitude of voice when screaming. Also, try to hold a tone. It's pretty much the same training as the clean vocalists do. Maybe you should first do this training with the clean vocals and later with screaming. Actually I think you wouldn't notice much improvement when practicing with screams only. And the third thing, the sound. Similar to the growling. Find your own voice, then experiment with it. Use your tongue :P Piggy Squealing First, here are some examples of piggy squealing: (Benighted - 0.58 1.10) (Compilation) I didn't find it very hard to start squealing. I just closed the throat and tried to do some high and harsh vocals. Try to immitate pigs, that's all I can say. You can start with saying I, like in deep. Then with practice start saying other vowels. Breathing is the same, with the diaphragm. This is the end. I hope this lesson will help you to start with the harsh vocals. I had to search all over the internet and I found it really hard to get any good information on this topic. I also didn't know much people that would sing in a way like this, with the harsh vocals. That's why I created this lesson, for you guys to find it easier to start with the vocals. If you have any questions, corrections or comments, I will appreciate them. Once again, I do appreciate constructive criticism. Thank you, and support metal! \m/ Gaper Čefarin (DarkBlackPoison) Copyrighted by ME.

46 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    x0myheart0x
    Haha, you know what I find funny? People who listen to (c)rap :p, and say that metal, growling/screaming isn't talent. Well news to you people, anyone can put words together and "rap". Anyone can talk about the sick shiz that (c)rappers do. I'd like to see them do this off hand. This IS true talent. Even to be able to play the music like metal does, and not use computerized "beats" for their music....
    darkblackpoison
    Mick89 wrote: sounds about right to me. ive been screaming and growling and, what you call piggy squeeling for about 4 years now and everything you described is pretty accurate to me. htanks for the warm water and honey thing! thats tight.
    No problem man, glad to help
    Mick89 wrote: x0myheart0x wrote: Haha, you know what I find funny? People who listen to (c)rap :p, and say that metal, growling/screaming isn't talent. Well news to you people, anyone can put words together and "rap". Anyone can talk about the sick shiz that (c)rappers do. I'd like to see them do this off hand. This IS true talent. Even to be able to play the music like metal does, and not use computerized "beats" for their music.... I completely agree it doesnt take a whole lot of talent to tell someone a poem, to match it into individual bars is a little difficult especially if the timing is 5/4 or 6/4. but it takes years of practice to get the techniques down packed and even longer to perfect em. oh (R)etards (A)ttempting (P)oetry
    You are complaining about the rappers that say that metal is bullshit. Your are complaining about rap and saying that it's nothing special and that it's crap. I chalenge you to sing Biterphobia by Eminem. Or even write such lyrics by yourself and then sing it. Even if it's rap, it's not crap. Respect all music.
    sh_hacknor
    You have written a very nice guide. But I have to say that if your throat hurts while singing (even while singing harsh vocals), you are doing it wrong. Sure, the pain goes away after a while, and sure, a lot of singers out there use this technique, but the truth is that you will eventually burn out your voice and will never be able to sing again. More professional bands such as Opeth and Dark Tranquility don't use this "painful at the beginning" method. Cause they want to make a living with their voice and they cannot lose it! But yeah, this method you have written is much easier and takes a very shorter time to master. Seriously, just cause you have the instrument doesn't mean you are playing it right. Talk to a professional vocal coach to learn how famous, successful death metal vocalists sing.
    Lunatic_drive
    Something that helped me that I read somewhere else is growls can be felt in the middle of your throat. Screams are felt higher up in the hard palate.
    sycomike.hosea
    Very helpful, I have been growling for about 7 years now and everything seems correct to me. Honestly for me growling came naturally but its the high pitch screams I still can not do no matter how much I practice. Should I just give up on high pitch or keep trying?
    EvilToast555
    it's the same with my high pitch too. (ps love the lessons :] i understand them easy)
    Guitar guy Ben
    hey i have to say that this is a pretty nice lesson! i already can sing one or two songs with harsh vocals! thank you! but just one question: is the (high) scream supposed to feel like i am clearing my throat?
    coaxamm
    Hey DarkBlackPoison! Thanks very much for the information above, this was really a fantastic read. I was not able to find a guide like this. I will be for sure tying out the luke warm water and honey think I will take a flask to practise!! Kindest Regards.
    Mick89
    sounds about right to me. ive been screaming and growling and, what you call piggy squeeling for about 4 years now and everything you described is pretty accurate to me. htanks for the warm water and honey thing! thats tight.
    Allhaileris
    This was very helpful. I am trying to collect as many vocal techniques as possible, and this certainly demystifies the "death metal" vocal category. Thank you!
    The Interlude
    Wow, this was actually a decent tutorial. Now watch as some ignorant user says "this isn't music or talent." Time and time again I see that..... anyways, good job
    tikkie
    Thanks a lot for the help! The thing is it doesn't hurt haha, this morning I drank yogisip while practicing , and I have to say it helped a lot! But I will definitely be keeping an eye on it! thanks a lot again!
    crowther_2k8
    Hello, there! I have been 'trying' to growl for a year or two (on and off) and at times, they sound really good, with no pain whatsoever. Then somedays, I can't growl at all and It hurts and throat feels like a cramped muscle. I'm not sure I understand how I should go about pushing with my diaphraghm or opening my throat. I've never sought out advice before, so any feedback would be well appreciated.
    cuban420
    I have a question about being able to pull a strong performance 2 or more days in a row. Even though the first night we perform, my voice is strong and true, but the next day I usually have some strain. Is there any techniques or things I can try to be able to blast for more than one night in a row?
    darkblackpoison
    Drink honey during the performance or after it, that should help. Tea with honey or just lukewarm water with honey. Don't drink alcohol or smoke, and don't let your throat get cold, wear a scarf (if it's cold outside). The more your practice, the better you get at it. With more practice your throat should hurt you less. Other than that, I don't know what to advise you. Hope this helps!
    the ombudsman
    Is it supposed to be rather quiet? I can get the tone pretty right but it's about as loud as a soft conversation. My normal singing is much louder. Am I doing this wrong?
    darkblackpoison
    It's not supposed to be quiet, it's actually supposed to be quite loud. Check out a few videos on youtube if you want, different vocalists screaming/growling on camera ... Maybe you should open your throat more? Let more air out?
    metaldaddy789
    When you push the air out with your diaphragm do you have to do anything else to try to make the scream? or is it just supposed to sound like a scream when you tighten your throat and push?
    selenawatkins27
    how do you breathe through the diaphrahm instead of the lungs? I feel like im breathing in wrong. Great tutorial btw c:
    CiciRocksOn33
    and i watched a video on high screams and he said to get it loud it depended on your voic. If it is quiet you'll have quiet screams if it is loud, u will have louder screams and so.. is this true?
    darkblackpoison
    Well ... About closing your throat. I really don't know what else to say. Screaming is just like normal screaming, you just have to narrow your throat, close it a little bit, to get that harsh sound. I'm not sure about the loudness though. However I don't see the connection between loudness of your voice and your screams. Just try to push more air through your throat, that should make your screams louder.
    CiciRocksOn33
    I have a few questions if this is alright. So, First off, what do you mean by closing the throat? That kinda threw me off a little.
    tikkie
    my throat bleeds when I do high pitched screaming, especially like randy blythe ( lamb of god ). It has only happened 2 times, but I suspect it is due to my much longer high pitched screaming. Is this dangerous, and will it improve? I really dont want any throat diseases Growling is not a problem at all btw. Thanks in advance!
    darkblackpoison
    If your throat bleeds, you should stop. It can be very dangerous, and will probably not improve unless you change your technique. You have to find a way so that you will be comfortable when screaming, just like when you're growling. Maybe try to find your own voice when screaming, do not try to imitate. You'll have the time to do that when you learn to scream with your own voice. I can't really give you a good advice, you have to find a way that works for you yourself. It shouldn't hurt and your throat shouldn't bleed. Good luck!
    darkblackpoison
    Sethis wrote: How long can you guys sustain a low growl? How much is it normal for a beginner?
    I'm guessing about 5 seconds would be okay for a beginner
    Sethis
    How long can you guys sustain a low growl? How much is it normal for a beginner?
    darkblackpoison
    sh_hacknor wrote: You have written a very nice guide. But I have to say that if your throat hurts while singing (even while singing harsh vocals), you are doing it wrong. Sure, the pain goes away after a while, and sure, a lot of singers out there use this technique, but the truth is that you will eventually burn out your voice and will never be able to sing again. More professional bands such as Opeth and Dark Tranquility don't use this "painful at the beginning" method. Cause they want to make a living with their voice and they cannot lose it! But yeah, this method you have written is much easier and takes a very shorter time to master. Seriously, just cause you have the instrument doesn't mean you are playing it right. Talk to a professional vocal coach to learn how famous, successful death metal vocalists sing.
    Thanks on your comment. However I never said that I am a professional and that I know all about harsh vocals. I'm just trying to help. I don't know where you live, but I'm pretty sure that in the most parts of the world there are NO professional vocal coaches for harsh vocals.
    darkblackpoison
    EvilToast555 wrote: i can do pig squeals but for some reason i cant low growl. it just sounds like a low airy you. am i doing something wrong? i can sing really high pitch. would that effect it?(havnt tried high screams)
    Try to really open your throat, expand it. And then find a way to shake your vocal chords with the air you exhale. When you know how to do that, just push as much air as you can out of your diaphragm. I hope I helped you, and thank you for your nice comment
    EvilToast555
    i can do pig squeals but for some reason i cant low growl. it just sounds like a low airy you. am i doing something wrong? i can sing really high pitch. would that effect it?(havnt tried high screams)
    darkblackpoison
    Guitar guy Ben wrote: hey i have to say that this is a pretty nice lesson! i already can sing one or two songs with harsh vocals! thank you! but just one question: is the (high) scream supposed to feel like i am clearing my throat?
    Uhm ... As long as it doesn't hurt too much and it sounds like a metal scream (compare your scream to some other bands you listen to), then it's all okay. I know how it feels like when I'm screaming, but I can't really say it's the same when I'm trying to clear my throat, so I don't know ... If it sounds okay to you and if you can sing like that, then it's all okay
    Mick89
    x0myheart0x wrote: Haha, you know what I find funny? People who listen to (c)rap :p, and say that metal, growling/screaming isn't talent. Well news to you people, anyone can put words together and "rap". Anyone can talk about the sick shiz that (c)rappers do. I'd like to see them do this off hand. This IS true talent. Even to be able to play the music like metal does, and not use computerized "beats" for their music....
    I completely agree it doesnt take a whole lot of talent to tell someone a poem, to match it into individual bars is a little difficult especially if the timing is 5/4 or 6/4. but it takes years of practice to get the techniques down packed and even longer to perfect em. oh (R)etards (A)ttempting (P)oetry
    darkblackpoison
    The Interlude wrote: Wow, this was actually a decent tutorial. Now watch as some ignorant user says "this isn't music or talent." Time and time again I see that..... anyways, good job
    Well yeah, I will just ignjore those comments Thanks for your comment, appreciate it
    MurderMarCar
    I have a problem, the weird thing is that I can both go low and high, but only sometimes. Most of the time i sound amazing and then others it strings unlike normally. Any tips?