The Art Of Screaming

Wanna scream without shredding your voice to peaces? Well here's a guide to do just that.

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My journey to learn how to scream started one night at the Whiskey - the band on stage was 'WWIII' - the lead singer was this tall, black-haired German guy named Mandy. He had a voice like early Brian Johnson of 'ACDC'. I listened in amazement. How could anyone scream so high and intensely for an hour and still be able to speak clearly between songs? I had only been singing for about 6 months. I could scream, like Axel for about half a song - then I was cooked - I was hoarse for three days I went back stage to meet Mandy. I asked him how he learned to sing. He told me he'd studied opera in Germany. I asked, How could someone scream like that? And he answered; It's the nature of the beast. From that remark, I gathered he meant you either can scream or you can't and if you couldn't you would never be able to - since that fateful night in Hollywood, I have dedicated my music career to developing a 4-octave voice and can scream intensely night after night. I've learned that The nature of the beast refers to an inner rage that compels a singer to scream. Early on, when I met Mandy, I wasn't yet able to scream physically. Inside, I was full of enough piss and vinegar to blow down a house with my voice, I just didn't know how to access it. I had to find the technique to support the scream I could hear in my head. True screamers can be a bit left of center when it comes to normally controlled social skills - we tend to run a little hot. If you want to get started putting your scream into your vocals, here are a few tips: Start listening to singers who scream. I recommend AC/DC - Back In Black, Guns N Roses - Appetite For Destruction, any Linkin Park, Rage Against The Machine, Soundgarden and Dio. Back In Black is my favorite for insane vocals. For females vocal screaming, check out Spike 1000, Janis Joplin, Pat Benitar or Otep. Female students, at my voice coaching studio, workout regularly to male singer's music. There's nothing cooler than a chick screaming, Crawling by Linkin Park. If you've had voice lessons in the past and have lesson tapes on hand, use them to warm up before you sing. Once you've warmed up - really warmed up, turn down the lights. Always have a fresh gallon of room temperature water on hand. Do some stretching and deep breathing exercises. Find a place in your mind where no one goes but you, and live there. Block the world from seeping in. Be sure you are in a place where it's cool to be loud. Before you play your music, make sure you know what the song is about. Often, while I'm in session with a student, I'll ask what they think the tune they're singing is about and they don't know. Welcome To The Jungle for example - is about moving to LA with ten bucks in your pocket, and being scared but not scared enough to go home. My best advise - be there when you sing the song. If the subject is something you have no personal experience with, connect emotionally with something in the song you can relate to. When you are ready try singing "Welcome To The Jungle", hit the opening scream. If you need to go into falsetto, that's fine at first. Here's the trick - before you sing, inhale deeply, your lower belly should drop slightly (making sure you do not shrug your shoulders) just inhale with the belly. Loosen your jaw at the hinge and keep your tongue flat and forward resting on your bottom teeth. As the opening scream begins, don't think of screaming it really high, think of it as if you were screaming far across the street. Two things naturally increase pitch: (1) emotion (2) distance. Your body produces higher tones traveling faster and further than lower ones when excited. As you increase the excitement in your speech, your pitch naturally rises. Higher pitches are more easily heard than low sonic frequencies. On your opening note, inhale deeply, loosen your jaw, flatten your tongue, get wrapped up in the lyrics and sing to the back row! If you've never attempted screaming before, expect a few soar throats for a while, but if you continue to do it correctly they will not persist. If you are a voice student, ask your teacher if they have experience with screaming. You will find that most don't. In fact, many of my students have told me that their former voice coaches have told them not to scream. Screaming is very fringe and difficult to do well, and few master it. When you visit my band site: UncleNancy.com you'll hear insanely screaming vocals that can easily sustain a long touring career based on the principles above. If you begin with falsetto, slowly try bringing in a deeper more chesty sound. The muscle used most when screaming is the Pharyngeal Muscle or Middle Muscle. It's a difficult muscle to develop but when you do, your voice will peel the paint off the walls! The sound of the Pharyngeal is like a witches cackle, like The Wicked Witch Of The West in The Wizard Of Oz My little pretty, he he he he! For men begin with middle C, make a HEE sound that sounds like a witch and for women start at E above middle C. Make sure it doesn't sound pretty and falsetto or thick and chesty. It should sound course and ugly. Next, use that sound and sing the first 5 notes of the major scale, keeping it ugly. As you go higher, tighten your belly, drop your jaw and sing far across the room, keeping it connected. Maintain the tone you establish on the lowest note throughout the scale. Don't let the scale get thin and reedy or airy and heady. Another good exercise that will help you to achieve the scream sound is to open your mouth as wide as it will go and stick your tongue out as far and flat as it will go and make an AH sound like when a doctor examines you. Do the same scale you produced with the witch's cackle. The best way to practice these scales are in half steps. Meaning, after you do the first scale, inhale and do the same scale in the same voicing, one half step or one note higher. So let's say the first scale is a major scale starting on A the next would be the same scale starting on A#, the next note to the right on the piano. A word of warning: Be careful. Screaming WILL tear your voice up if you are not strong enough. I strongley suggest taking vocal lessons for at LEAST six months before trying this. But if you think your ready...

187 comments sorted by best / new / date

    AC16
    Sry bout that i did,nt think it worked the first time
    bimsterfls
    this article really sucked. Linkin Park!!!! hahhahahahahahahahahahahahaha. If you want to listen to bands that scream listen to some Lamb of god, in flames, opeth, Children of Bodom, the list goes on and on. so next time you're gonna wtire an article on how to scream talk about some of those bands Not Nu-Metal like Linkin Park! oh yeah and how can you say gun's n roses and dio scream. i like them but god they don't scream. so go listen to those bands then write a new article!!!..
    ppsp
    HEEEEEL YEA!!!!! But HEEEEEL NOOOOO for the "this article sucked" try writing one yourself.
    madbasslover
    I agree with Slaytanic Axema. Why the hell would you read an article about something you hate and then plague everyone with your dumbass comments?!
    bengalaas
    BassBeats098: If you wanna hear some actual screaming, download maybe memories or sound effects and overdramatics by the used...
    used? haha nah.. i'd go with alexisonfire. now THAT is quality screaming.
    HellBent_Hitler
    hey punge.. i need help. im in a band and practically im a good singer and our band has a good reputation.. only problem is.. i have a high pitch voice..not realy high just its not deep enough to scream in some songs. how can i scream like daniel johns (silver chair)example song is israels son, because its his type of scream that suits me.. i never took lessons or such stuff like that. the biggest reason i need help is i write songs and most of the songs i have written (should have) involved screaming. can you give me tips..
    AC16
    I did,nt read this but, i think it was worthwhile making a lesson for this Does any1 listen to Qoueens Of The Stone Age they have an excellent song "Quick and to the pointless" The whole song is pretty much screamed but it sounds ***ing excellent Screaming is,nt easy some people can do it some people cant some people learn how to do it. Screaming is NOT just a noise
    AC16
    I hav,nt read this but i just wanted to say that it Was worthwhile writing an article on this Its not east to scream a song and sound good. If anybody listens to Qoueens Of The Stone Age (who by the way are Kickass) youll know they have a song "Quick and to the pointless" The whole song is pretty much screamed and its sounds Fucking excellent actually i dont think it was a member of QOTSa it might have been somone from Kyuss but QOTSA wrote it anywho im just saying screaming can sound really good if you do it write its NOT just a noise
    GoodCharlotteGy
    Well, since i have basically no vocal training at all. (I know how to breathe with my diaphram and that's about it) i didn't quite understand some stuff. And i agree with the kid who said that most of those bands don't really scream. If u want to hear a real scream, go listen to The Used. Bert scream's like none other! And u can understand what he's saying when he does.
    2LiterBottle
    unlike yourself i dont give a shit about what u say because i can accept that everyone has there own opinion.i cant stand music with CONSTANT shouting, thats all i was saying, and as its my opinion its hardly igonorant.
    if you can accept that everyone has their own opinion stop going and trying to change it. they wouldnt care anyway if they were like you.
    Giulio
    yea i agree bert has a pretty powerful scream. im new to that front but i can match him quite well actually but it really takes a toll on my vocal chords and my whole body. in general, great article. also about screaming bands... personally i think that screaming can be both good and bad. when the song is all one scream it can kinda get irritating. but using screams can really add alot of emotion to the music. i think cobain, plant, and johnson were all good screamers i think they set the bar. many bands today scream very oddly.. its sometimes noteven screaming its just growling. hawthorn heights (?) makes me think the screamer has a bad taste in his mouth and is about to throw up. yet bert from the used screams fairly well and has a good singing voice. but thats new age i guess. i also agree with alot of posts that screaming is overused and that its commmonly done incorrectly.
    soniqV
    The fact of the matter is that screaming has now become so overdone that the cliche of it all pretty much cancels out any intended emotion. I can see how someone would still want a scream for the climax of an intense song or something, using it as a dynamic device. Or an AC/DC "rasp" as opposed to an all out scream. But these bands that prefer screaming (or growling or whatever you call it) over intelligibility, well... I find it laughable.
    vomittbomb
    This was ok. Firstly, need I point out that ACDC and such mentioned bands are not screaming compared to bands such as Dimmu Borgir, Emperor, Darkthrone, My Ruin, Strapping Young Lad, and Lamb of God. The instructions are very good though, must I say.
    greasy_fingers
    Has anyone heard "Preachers Daughter" by Lynyrd Skynyrd? Anyway, I want to be able to scream like that. I can only do it when I have a cold though...
    greasy_fingers
    Even if you can't sing, you should still try. Look at Neil Young (sorry Neil). He's not the greatest singer, but he sings like he means it, and if sing like you mean it, you'll get your point across a lot better than if you have a great voice, but could care less about what you're saying. btw, sorry for the double post and sorry if that made no sense. I'm pretty tired.
    Gothic_ed
    i like how everyones going 'screaming vocals kick ass' or 'screaming sucks'. Some people just can't get past their own stereotypes and see that not only is it about opinion, but nothing can categorily suck. There is no type of music that all sucks, and the person who pops up and says emo sucks or rap is untalented, though being largely true, will only prove themselves to be foolish.
    James Lugo
    I was just turned onto this column and realized that it was mine. It was from an interview in a magazine entitled California Song. How did you guys get this? Anyway, if anyone wants a deeper insight to my teaching: http://www.jameslugo.com/voice-lessons.s... {If you begin with falsetto, slowly try bringing in a deeper more chesty sound. The muscle used most when screaming is the Pharyngeal Muscle or ?Middle Muscle?. It?s a difficult muscle to develop but when you do, your voice will peel the paint off the walls! Actually, the muscle you described isn't a muscle at all. That's the epiglottis. Otherwise, your techniques are quite sound! You got the toungue in the right spot, a loose jaw, diaphragmatic breathing.) No I WAS explaining the Pharyngeal, read 'Voice of the Mind"! It's the muscle between the Basic and Falsetto muscle and it's used to scream.
    BassBeats098
    If you wanna hear some actual screaming, download maybe memories or sound effects and overdramatics by the used...
    GodSorrow
    this guy is naming pussy screamers that sound like broken records with too high of a pitch. ac/dc singer hasnt even hit puberty yet. this guy should try listening to real screamers like johnny petibone from himsa, or some black dahlia murder. non stop screamers. and for chick screamers, try angela gassow from arch enemy. any 1 will b blown away by her
    Disruptdguitris
    (i messed up my name, 'DisruptdguitrisT') Good article. I'm not a big fan of the death metal scream that you can't hear the words to, but I still love screaming bands, like Lamb of God, Chimaira, and Opeth. Opeth can scream a ten minute song and then sing in perfect tone for the song right after that.
    frusciante_5
    nightprowler:Who ever said that, I worship you for coming up with the line "a bear choking on a ****ing mosquito". [POSTED: 25 December 2004 - 22:57]
    oh that was me, thank you
    SamiGirl
    nice article... people are right, screaming is over-used, but if used well, it's quite nice.
    jayant412
    Not bad... But i didnt like the examples you gave.... like RATM, Sound Garden, etc.... You should have named some of the metal bands.... I have a doubt... i can scream only at a low frequency.... but when i try to go higher i choke....any sugesstions??? (i have never gone to any voice lessons)
    punge
    it may be out of your range, however if thats not the case go and take voice lessons or some how obtain a warm up/techniqe tape sutible for your range. the problem is your voice may just not be ready. use the tape to practice everyday to build strength both in your diaphram and more importantly develop your voice. depending how much you sing with the techniqe tape it could take anyware from a month (if you practice everyday multiple times) to a year (if you slack off) to never. I would personaly like you to take voice lessons and wait for the screaming. If you get to be a good singer screaming will be a breeze (just be carful). you will see that also your range will expand. remember the better you can sing, the better you can scream.
    IadultswimI
    This is hillarious. In my opinion, screaming should not be considered a part of music at all. I am not talking about the kind of screaming bands like AC/DC do, I am talking about the heavy metal screaming. Don't believe me? Think I am a total f****r?
    Anything can be music,as long as it has some "Human Organization" going on. It might sound crazy but it's only easier to believe that noise cannot be music.
    But we do have the past to look opon. In the last 10 years, 2 bands have been remembered,to the public, that scream. In my opinion, those bands are Rage Against the Machine and Nirvana. THAT IS ALL. Mostly bands that are remembered are classic rock bands, and vocalists singing classic holiday songs.
    And most Metal bands, or any band, don't care to be remembered. They care to make their own music.
    You want to sing to make an impact on some other person's life right? Well, unless you feel like the 2 lucky people out of millions of vocalists in screaming heavy metal bands, you are out of luck.
    I listen to bands that scream and they made a beautiful impact on my life.
    So do everyone a favor, and sing. Don't "insert incomprehensable yelling" because you have no vocal talent. It won't get you f***..g anywhere anyways.
    Again, bands that care for their music and not their reputation won't care to get big, to most, that is the very last thing they want.
    but thats exactly what our economy needs right now, f***..g high school dropouts to go join a band so they can make some money. Well, welcome to reality pal, you won't get f***..g anywhere with that.
    Idiots do that, but some people actually play music because they like to play music. Not for money.
    scousertommy
    twas a very thorough article, but i dont think think many of us could afford 6 months of singing lessons. and some people, like myself, will never be able to scream, coz we were just born with a weak voice....
    Ratdegout
    answer to "ineddaband388": you might just shit on extreme styles, but try to imagine Mayhem with a "really singing" vocalist, would be quite ridiculus to me ! Extreme music goes with extreme sounds, and screams are perfect for really violent sounds... By the way, would you have some tips for "death" growlings and black hatefull screams ? (other than drinking whisky)
    GITARISTofDEATH
    i think as far as screaming...dustin kensrue from thrice uses a really different technique. if you listen to the outro of "to awake and avenge the dead" or the chorus in "silhouette" i get this feeling that he's screaming with his throat, full power and honest to god rage...something that anyone can kill their own voice trying. anyone else think he screams uniquely? btw, decent article, but don't like hearing those arena-rock screams, too high and castrated.
    Silenzo666
    screaming dosent nesecarly mean that stupid incomprehensible yelling and growling that comes from death metal and such. Think or ACDC or maybe Motley Crue's choruses. That is screaming, though in a good way. Hardcore and death metal vocals suck
    what the *** is wrong with you? death metal voices kick mother***ing ass bitch!
    Silenzo666
    oh, yah, and good article, but you should've mentioned some death metal and black metal bands like mushroomhead and dimmu borgir
    ineedaband388
    nightprowler: lol Thats all I can say to an article like that. I like AC/DC and other bands that "scream", and occasionly some Rage Agianst the Machine. But when you start talkin about bands like Lamb of God who just scream their ****ing heads off and you can't hear a word, then thats just b***s***. They do that becuase they have no vocal talent. If you have no vocal talent, why the h*** can't you just be satisfied with your instrument? I suck at singing, so I just stick with my guitar. What surprises me is that some of those really heavy bands have kick a** guitarists, but really sucky vocals. I mean, come on you duma****. About the Article: Well you seem to know what your doing, but I can't help laugh at the fact that your post is entitled "The Art of Screaming". So many people have not posted because they are dieing of laughter of the thought of screaming an art. Screaming is a piece of s*** way of talking that regular people use so they can call themselves vocalists. 1/5 stars, just because you sound professional
    Your stupid.....
    plug1
    I find it offensive that you can write an article about screaming and not mention the person who near perfected it in metal in the 80s- Rob Halford. I defy anyone to tell me that's not an art.
    teenagepunk
    I didnt like the article.Its god 4 ppl that want to do rock not metal.I dont know how to explain it.I was hoping it was a guide to metal screaming.
    5Y573M0F4D0WN
    I think you guys that hate screamo/emo/hardcore music are huge ***s. You think that just because a few bands scream the entire time, then they all must do it. Well *** you guys, and plus emo is hardly screaming at all. I don't hear Taking Back Sunday or Dashboard Confessional screaming much at all. Screamo, yeah, they scream, but it's ***ing screamo music. Hardcore is awesome and Atreyu is a great band, just because they scream alot doesn't mean they're a crappy band. And you know, some people, who actually appreciate the screaming, are into hardcore and screamo music. You guys really need to ***ing think and let people listen to their own music and get a ***ing life instead of trying to start fights of how your music is superior on the INTERNET. Just ***ing give up you lame asses, god damn, show some respect for other peoples musical tastes instead of whoring your own as the best in the world. Come on guys. :/
    nightprowler
    there are a lot of bands that "scream" and when i say "scream" i mean shout and roar constantly through all of there songs, that the lyrics cannot be understood, it just sounds like a bear chocking on a ***ing mosquito.
    Who ever said that, I worship you for coming up with the line "a bear choking on a ****ing mosquito".
    Slash181
    I cant believe that people are not classing screaming, basically bands like Killswitch engage and Lamb of god as music. Fuck, whatever isntrument you play and especially if you do play an instrument you should not, having an open mind of what music can be is 1 step closer to being a better musician. the music industry changes all the time and adapts, first we had beatles in the 60's, then in the 70's the clash to david bowie (after listening to the beatles would you class what the clash was doing as music) shouting un tunefull words at shitty guitar parts no, the fact that they where putting across a message was the emtotion that ran through that music. 80s we hit stuff like metallica, ac/dc or zebra? ..... would you class there fast metal riffs as music to the comparison of the beatles? no. but it is once again it all falls in time signatures, its all got melodys within their own rights. now lets skip 20 years and get the 21st ****ing century. bands nowadays are experimenting ways of bringing emotion to new depths and levels. im sorry but music is music aslong as it has a beat, meaning and obviously some notes one thing i dont class as music is all this pig squeeling, thats ****ing stupid and i will drop kick any ****er in the throat if i hear it happen. so, before anyone starts hating on what i said, **** you, i listen to anything from beatles to the knack to metallica (love metallica), hendrix, scorpions, killswitch engage, lamb of god, alterbridge, devin townsend (must check him out, amazing artist with a couple of recent albums Ki and Addicted) seriously next time you call a band shitty, what have you done for the music industry except criticise and sit on ya fat ass. peace.