Scream singing can be fairly challenging for all singers, the problem is that most singers who try to learn it will fail miserably for several reasons. Generally speaking, one of the biggest problems with scream-singing is that you can hurt your vocal cords, even after a couple of minutes of scream-singing. Some singers have a natural ability to scream sing, and these singers will have an edge over any singer who doesn’t have this natural ability.
You can scream sing by warming up, choosing your scream style, growling, listening to scream-singing songs, avoiding to force your voice too much, using silent scream-singing, taking frequent breaks and hydrating, controlling your airflow and pressure, using your vocal fry, resonating, recording yourself, taking care of your vocal cords, by hiring a vocal coach, practicing and by never using your scream-singing with your falsetto voice.
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The good news is that even if you do not have a natural ability to scream sing is that you can still learn how to do it, as long as you practice scream-singing or screamo singing correctly you will sooner or later learn how to do it correctly. Scream singing needs a lot of power if you have attempted to scream sing you have probably noticed that your face turns red and even veins are popping out of your forehead.
When you are at this point you are already forcing yourself too much and you might end up hurting your vocal cords. A lot of beginner singers think that the more they force their vocal cords the better they can scream sing, this is mostly due to the fact that they put so much pressure on their vocal cords that they will distort their voice and this makes them think they are improving. Distortion also plays a big part in scream-singing, although the distortion should be made with an intention and not because you almost lose your voice by forcing your vocal cords.
For scream-singing, you will need 3 basic things, a powerful voice, good breathing, and singing technique. Without these three you will struggle, if you are a beginner singer, then do not get discouraged as no matter what kind of singing technique you will learn, you will develop all three of them eventually. If you are not sure if scream-singing, or singing, in general, is for you then check out my recent article Can anyone learn how to sing well? ( The Honest Truth ).
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As with any singing exercise you first have to warm up your voice, I know that not a lot of beginner singers do actually arm up as it is kind of boring. The problem is if you do not warm up before doing any singing exercise is that you will sooner or later hurt your vocal cords. If you have ever felt that your throat struts to hurt and even itch after singing, then the most likely cause is that you either didn’t warm up or you did not arm up properly.
One of the best ways to warm up for scream-singing is to use sirens, both up and down. Start with the lowest range and go towards your highest range, just remember to control it as best you can and do not allow your voice to jump up and down. If you have never done sirens than you should focus on getting from your lower range to your higher range, once you have mastered this exercise you can start doing it in reverse.
Choose your scream style
Most people think that scream-singing can only be applied to metal or rock music, the truth is that screams singing doesn’t have any limits and you could apply it to any genre of music. Everybody has a different screaming style, some are more powerful than others. My personal recommendation is first to identify what kind of screaming style you can actually do without hurting yourself, from there you can pick your music genre.
Odds are that if you like to listen to metal music then your scream will more or less be suited to metal screaming. On the other hand, if you frequently listen to rock music then you most likely will find that your scream-singing is more suited to rock singing. This is mostly because as you listen to different genres of music you will pick up certain cues and techniques without even noticing, and you more or less have the capability to scream sing because you know how it should sound good.
In my experience, one of the easiest and safest ways to learn scream or screamo singing is to actually growl. Now if you are a beginner singer you probably do not know what growl is so let me explain as simply as I can. Grow singing si when you imitate the sound which an animal makes, like the roar of a tiger or the bark of a dog. There are a lot fo different growl types, and you should experiment which one is the best for you, once you know how to growl, scream-singing will be a lot easier I promise you. If you need more information about how to actually growl, then check out my recent article How to growl when singing? ( In 8 Easy Steps ).
Listen to scream-singing songs
One of the easiest ways to learn any singing style or technique is to actually listen to that kind of music. Far too often beginner singers do not actually listen to the music while they are attempting to learn that singing style. You absolutely have to know how scream-singing should sound like as this way you can compare your singing to people who actually made a career out of scream-singing, simply put you should imitate the best.
Avoid forcing yourself too much
One of the main reasons why you can not properly scream sing is because you simply force yourself too much. For you, it might sound like you are doing a good job if you manage to get a couple of good screams while singing, but odds are that with just a couple of screams you have exhausted and even forced your voice. Continuing to scream sing after your throat already hurts is an extremely bad idea you could even develop permanent vocal cord damage.
Use silent scream-singing
I know that when you think of scream-singing you probably imagine yourself to scream as loudly as possible. The roble is that if you are a beginner singer you do not have the necessary strength and the vocal stamina to keep up with screaming as loud as possible. First, you should focus on silent scream-singing, this way you will not hurt your voice and you will even be able to practice for longer periods of time.
Not all scream singers scream as loud as they can, most of them will scream with a fairly normal volume and they will amplify the screaming in post-production. So if you are listening to metal music than just take it with a grain of salt as the singer doesn’t actually scream that loud, and if you have ever gone to a live rock or metal concert yo have probably already noticed that not all singers can actually scream loudly.
Take frequent breaks and hydrate
Breaks are extremely important as while you are scream-singing you will force your entire body and not just your vocal cords. With all that air coming out while you are scream-singing you will lose a lot of water, once your throat becomes dry, it is only a matter of time till you will hurt your vocal cords. Take a break every 20-30 minutes, and if you are a beginner singe than you should take breaks even more frequently.
The breaks don’t have to be long, around 5-10 minutes at a time would be enough to give your vocal cords a well-deserved rest. While you are resting also take a couple of sips of water even if you are not thirsty, just remember that you should only drink room temperature water as cold water will actually compress your vocal cords and make it difficult to scream.
Control your airflow and pressure
Breathing is extremely important for scream-singing, and arguably how you control your airflow and pressure is even more important. If you are a beginner singer than you probably have some difficulty with this part, this is normal as your muscles which let your diaphragm expand and contract are not yet strong enough. With a weak diaphragm, you will not be able to hold the scream for as long as you need to and you will not be able to control the pitch and tone of your scream-singing.
The muscles which control your diaphragm will take a couple of months to get stronger, as long as you practice different breathing techniques. Once your diaphragm and the muscles controlling it will become more powerful you will notice that controlling your airflow and pressure will be a lot easier. You just have to practice different breathing techniques, there is no other way around.
Use your vocal fry
The vocal fry is that sizzling effect which you can sometimes produce, most singers would consider vocal fry as being something negative, this is mostly because singers who sing with a vocal fry tend to hurt their vocal cords and throat. The trick for using vocal fry for scream-singing is to use it silently and by not screaming as loud as you possibly can. What is great about using vocal fry is that you can add a lot of distortion effects to your scream-singing.
As a general rule of thumb when you are scream sing you should resonate either from the top of your head or from the top of your mouth and teeth. Once you have a good grasp about how you can resonate then you should start experimenting and mixing scream-singing with it. There is no good or bad way of resonating, everybody will resonate differently because we all are made different.
It is always a good idea to record yourself when practicing and when trying different styles of singing. While you are singing you are probably focused on singing correctly which is a good idea, but if you do not see yourself then you can not analyze later what you did well and what you did incorrectly. This way you can focus on doing the correct things rather than just practicing for the sake of it.
Take care of your vocal cords
Scream singing is extremely hard on your vocal cords, especially in the beginning or if you do not do it correctly. It is vital that you keep your vocal cords in top shape as you rely on them for your voice. One important aspect which determines the health of your vocal cords is your actual diet, so make sure to avoid coffee, sodas, and even dairy products, for more information on how to keep your vocal cords in top shape check out my recent article How to take care of your vocal cords for singing? ( In 10 Easy Ways ).
Hire a vocal coach
If you have difficulty scream-singing than you should turn to a vocal coach, you are probably not doing something correctly and a vocal coach might actually help you identify where the problem is and how you could fix it. Just make sure you actually hire a vocal coach and not some online service which probably will not be able to help you out.
You will have to practice scream-singing, the more you practice the easier it will be. For beginner singers who have very little experience with singing, in general, I wouldn’t recommend starting learning scream-singing as you will have to have at least a basic knowledge and skill of singing before you can scream sing.
Don’t scream sing with your falsetto voice
A lot of beginner singers make the big mistake of scream-singing with their falsetto voice, do not ever do this as it will destroy your voice. Falsetto is already fairly had on your vocal cords, adding a scream or two on top of it will make you hurt your throat and vocal cords, you might even develop vocal nodules.
Scream singing can be a challenge if your voice isn’t well suited for it. Not all voices can scream sing well, and the sooner you figure out what your voice can and can not do the faster you will progress as a singer. When practicing for scream-singing do not force yourself, take it with one step at a time, eventually, you will get the hang of it.