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Keeping Your Voice

Whether you’re a pop, punk, rock or full on metal band, your vocals are going to be one of the first facets of your sound that your audience will engage with. Which means it is of paramount importance to look after your proverbial moneymaker.

So many singers I watch, especially those employing a hardcore/screamo style, bellow and strain onstage, tearing their poor vocal cords to shreds, and are barely able to croak out a ‘thanks for coming’ by the end of the show. I can only imagine that the inside of their throats resemble an octopus’s tentacle what with all the nodes and callouses up in there. Yum. Rock and roll or what?

It’s tempting, in the heat of the moment onstage, amongst the cacophony and to try to convey intensity of feeling by distorting one’s voice. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all. There’s a way of doing it safely, though, and without shouting (which actually sounds pretty horrible). It’s all to do with abdominal support and placement of the sound in the ‘mask’ -- but that’s all technical and it can be better explained by a qualified singing teacher.

Doing your ‘mi-mah-mi-mah’ exercises can seem a contrived and inauthentic way of achieving that passionate, gritty, intense sound, but it’s the only sustainable way of doing it. Practice and exercises give you a solid base from which to add your personal vocal quirks and styles. And after enough practice, it becomes second nature, and you can then begin to really enjoy experimenting with your voice with a much reduced risk of damage.

A good singing teacher will make you feel entirely at ease before you begin to sing for them. It’s a personal thing, and many people find it difficult to sing one on one with just a stranger watching. But once over the hump of initial self-consciousness, one’s knowledge of and therefore confidence in one’s own voice increases very quickly, and opens the door for a vocalist to explore what their voice can do. Increased control and versatility will enhance the dynamic of a vocalist’s performance exponentially, and the confidence boost can give the aura of greater stage presence.

Don’t get me wrong, I am far from a perfect singer. But over the years I have only once suffered real vocal fatigue, and it was horrible. You can’t speak, can’t sing, have to gobble Strepsils and green tea by the bucket load etc etc etc. Remember, your voice is an instrument like any other. It is the most personal, your strongest asset with which to colour your instrumentation. Look after it, because if you break it, unlike your guitar, you don’t get another one.

Ché, Cane Hill Anticult

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