Having several vocal styles in your arsenal is vital if you want to become a versatile singer. Learning how to sing with grit is a great way to add aggression and emotion to your vocals.
You don’t need to be blessed with a naturally raspy voice to belt out gritty vocals. Anyone can learn, provided they are consistent in their efforts and practice routine. In this guide, I’ll show you how to add a grittiness to your voice while ensuring that you protect and preserve it.
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Step 1 – Building a Confident Mindset
Before attempting to sing in a gritty style, the first thing you need to cultivate is a confident state of mind. As vocalists, we tend to stay within the confines of our comfort zones when performing or recording.
Singing in this style requires a level of abandonment. You’re going to be pushing your voice to its limits, in terms of power and vocal range, which may feel a little strange compared to how you’re used to singing.
A good way to build confidence before learning to sing with rasp is by choosing a song that is sung at the very top of your vocal range. Turn it up loud, and after warming up your voice, try belting out the high notes.
Notice how your voice sounds when you sing with velocity. If there is some grit there already, great! You just need to develop this further. If, on the other hand, you struggle to produce grit, don’t worry. The following exercises will help you to develop it.
Step 2 – Building Vocal Strength
To sing rock-style vocals with plenty of grit and character, you need to build a powerful foundation for your voice. It’s a common misconception that vocal power can’t be improved. With the proper technique and persistence, it can be dramatically improved.
A highly effective way to build vocal strength is by learning to support your diaphragm with your pelvic floor. To do this, you can place both of your hands on the sides of your body, underneath your ribs, while you sing.
This trains you to automatically breathe from your stomach when singing. Many vocalists fall into the bad habit of breathing from their chests, which puts a strain on your vocal cords and doesn’t strengthen them.
Sing through some scales while keeping your hands pressed against your sides. Start by singing scales that are comfortably within your vocal range, then move onto more challenging notes. Notice how your voice becomes stronger through this simple method almost instantly.
The key is to train yourself to breathe from deep within your stomach without needing to think about it or place your hands on your sides. If you put a little time aside to do this exercise for a few days, it will become second nature.
Step 3 – Growling Technique
After you’re satisfied that you are breathing from the stomach when singing, it’s time for the fun part of the process. It’s worth mentioning that if you do the following exercise with someone else in the room, they may think you’re acting a little strange!
What you need to do, is growl. You don’t need to pretend that you’re a canine, but it might help! Start by softly growling somewhere that is comfortably within your vocal range.
Then, raise the pitch, trying to maintain the same level of growl in your voice. Be careful not to push too hard, and remember to keep breathing from deep within your stomach. If you slip back into singing from your chest, repeat the previous exercise to remind yourself of the correct technique.
Initially, you might find it difficult to growl at higher pitches. This is to be expected. The important thing is that you analyze how you can growl low down in your vocal range, and try to repeat that exact technique when singing higher.
Step 4 – Experimenting with Grit
Once you’ve successfully managed to cultivate the technique of growling, it’s time to try and incorporate this into singing in tune. Choose a song that you are familiar with, and try to sing it while sustaining the grit in your voice.
You’ll probably find that it’s easy to keep the grit in your voice when singing certain notes, but others may prove more difficult. This is because your throat and mouth shape impacts the friction you can create with your vocal cords.
Start simple, by focusing on maintaining a light growl when singing one note. Then, try to keep that growl as you transition to the next note in the song. You’ll have to stick with this practice for a while to learn the technique.
Everyone’s voice is unique and different. You might find that it’s easier to keep the grittiness in your singing when you’re belting out high notes, or that you find it easier when you’re at the bottom of your range.
It’s all about learning what you are capable of and trying to improve that ability. Incorporate this practice into your daily routine, and you’ll start to see significant benefits right away.
Protecting Your Voice
It’s important to protect your voice whenever you sing, but particularly when you are trying to sing with grit. Make sure you stay hydrated while practicing this skill, and warm up your voice beforehand.
If you feel any pain or discomfort when trying to reach a high note, stop, and aim lower. You’ll get there eventually, but straining your voice will likely cause damage that will hinder your overall progress.
Singing with grit requires consistent practice and patience. It’s a skill that anyone can learn, but it might take some longer than others. If you follow the steps in this guide and practice regularly, you’ll be belting tunes out with plenty of raspiness in no time.
It’s a good idea to use recordings to monitor your progress. If you don’t have access to recording equipment, you can simply use the voice recorder on your smartphone. This allows you to analyze your vocal performance and asses where the grittiness could be improved.