Every singer was at least once intrigued by the power of scream-singing. Even though it is usually associated with heavy-metal music, it can be an interesting and powerful tool for other music genres as well.
However, this type of singing is pretty harsh for your voice, so you need to practice it carefully and with the necessary precautions. We have some important tips for you on how to scream sing without destroying your voice.
What Is Scream Singing?
Singing screamo, scream sing or growl is a vocal style most popular in music genres such as heavy metal and punk rock. It is actually an extended vocal technique, meaning it’s not a traditional and conventional singing method. Unless, of course, you think of heavy metal as traditional.
However, even though you probably associate screaming music with long-haired metal bands, scream-singing was present in various genres back in the early 20th century. In fact, some opera characters of that time period included occasional screaming moments.
Other experimental genres implemented it too, and rock and roll had some brief screaming bits (even Elvis Presley did it in a few live recordings).
Moreover, the famous metal scream, conveniently called death growl, is thought to have originated in Vikings’ songs, so the screamo might not be so modern after all.
Types of Screams
Although scream-singing in music might sometimes seem to sound like a simple, loud yelling, that is not the case. Especially if you appreciate this kind of music, you should be aware that there are several types of screams and that each requires a different exercise to master it.
These three categories include all popular scream techniques and styles:
Screams are specifically the highest form of scream-singing. Therefore, they are the most dangerous that can damage your vocal cords.
What is in scream-singing and heavy metal music, a growl is a bit less aggressive than a scream. There are many different types of growls, such as low growl, low guttural, and mid-range growl.
The least aggressive and voice-damaging type of scream-singing is false cords. They produce low buzzing sounds and require a little less breath support than growls.
These categories contain many different scream-singing styles such as walrus scream, pig squeal, fry scream, kvlt scream, guttural scream, inhale scream, and so on.
As we mentioned before, all of them require a different practice, but there are some essential steps to take before learning to scream. They are essential and will enable you to learn how to properly be able to scream sing, but also how to scream without hurting your voice.
Let us take you through them!
How To Scream Sing Tips
1) Warm-up first
Since screaming and growling are stressful activities for your voice, it’s important to do a proper vocal warm-up. Before practicing to learn how to scream, you should sing with your natural voice for at least half an hour.
You should also include some breathing exercises, which are crucial for any kind of singing exercises and techniques.
So, if you want to become a singer who really knows how to scream, you need to use the same basic vocal exercises and warm-ups, and then start with more specific steps and screaming itself.
2) Drink warm water (and nothing else)
Although you might not think this step is crucial, drinking warm water before your practice or performance will clear your voice and prevent your throat to avoid from getting too dry.
It’s very important to stay hydrated during your singing sessions. That will protect your vocal cords from strain, but also make the screams easier.
Since drinks such as alcohol, milk, and cold water create mucus in your throat, we recommend that you avoid it before your practice. Moreover, a coating created by milk-based drinks and foods can lead to a decrease in the air passage in your throat.
Besides warm water, other things you should consume during or before your practice are honey and tea – they are always a good idea to calm your vocal cords and make your voice smooth.
3) Know when to stop
If you start to feel pain, you should stop with your practice immediately and rest until you feel better.
In scream-singing exercises, you are using harsh vocals, and that can do significant damage to your vocal cords if you aren’t mindful of your limits. So, be careful, and take a break whenever you are going to feel discomfort in your throat.
How To Fry Scream
Fry screaming is one of the most common scream-singing techniques. We will show you how to practice it efficiently and safely.
But first, what is a fry scream?
Fry scream is a term used to categorize different screaming types, mostly used in heavy metal songs. Although all fry screams require the same basic technique, they can sound quite diverse – most of them, however, sound “wet” and somewhat refined, which allows them to have a certain level of voice in them.
Here are some tips on how to learn fry screaming:
1) Practice in front of the mirror
Practicing in front of the mirror will help you loosen up your body and make you notice your posture. Both are important to reach better results with your exercises.
Your neck has to be stabilized, your back straight, and your shoulders and arms relaxed. By maintaining a proper posture during singing, you will optimize your breathing.
Consequently, you will produce a better and stronger sound.
2) Engage your diaphragm
Like in any other vocal exercise, you should be aware of your diaphragm and use it to control the airflow. Try to feel it first, then choose adequate breathing exercises, and with time, you will learn how to use it consciously.
Moreover, singing from your diaphragm is one of the crucial steps to learn how to scream longer.
3) Compress your vocal cords
To do the compression of vocal cords, you should start with easy sounds such as whispering. Feel it in your throat, tighten up its muscles, and slowly increase the intensity and volume.
Until now, you should hear distortion in your voice. Keep increasing the volume until you get that wanted “gurgly” texture in your voice. Vocal fry screaming is similar to the sound you release during your first-morning stretch (that loud “aaahhh” sound).
While it might seem weak at first, you can forge this into a powerful sound. Remember though – to increase the intensity of your scream, try to add thickness rather than loudness to your voice. This exercise is great for beginners to learn to scream, but it’s also a foundation for skilled professionals.
Either way, you need to be careful – it is normal to feel sore after practice, but you shouldn’t feel a lot of pain.
After you’ve mastered the fry scream, you will be able to change the pitch, and the easiest way to do it is by shaping your mouth accordingly.
For example, for a lower pitch, make your mouth smaller, and for a higher one, open it up. This will also help you to learn melodic screaming and many other tricks and skills that await you once you master the basic techniques.
Vocal Fry or Fry Screaming?
There are some discussions among musicians about the difference between fry scream and so-called vocal fry. The term vocal fry indeed refers to a vocal fry register, meaning it isn’t necessarily a singing technique.
In fact, vocal fry is the creaky and raspy sound of the voice, and it can happen due to lack of breath in vocal cords. Fry screaming feels similar to vocal fry, hence the same name and the common confusion.
Therefore, fry screams are not necessarily created from vocal fry, and there is a clear difference in the technique and the quality of the sound.
Can Screaming Damage Your Voice?
Like we already stated, scream-singing brings a lot of stress and can damage to your vocal cords, and that can be dangerous for your voice.
It can strain your voice much more than other vocal styles. In case of an injury, you will have to wait for some time to recover to avoid any pressure on your vocal cords.
If you are not taking care properly of your voice and if you ignore the pain while practicing your scream singing, you can come across more serious problems like vocal hemorrhage.
In case you bruise your vocal cords like that, it may not be an issue for your speaking, but if you’re a singer, it might have a more severe effect on your singing voice.
On the other hand, if you take the necessary precautions that we explained earlier, you can learn how to scream without damaging your vocal cords. Even though there is still no guarantee, taking care of your vocal health should be a priority in any singing.
Final ‘Screamo’ Thoughts
Using screams in music, no matter the genre can certainly sound powerful. Scream singing, however, takes a lot of dedicated practice. You should also be well prepared and educated before you jump into this kind of vocal exercise.
However, if you follow the tips that we gathered for you, your vocal cords should be just fine. So do a proper warm-up, stay hydrated, take breaks, and be patient.
There are many vocal exercises you can take to strengthen your screams, and most of them are used to improve general singing skills, such as singing from your diaphragm or practicing high notes.
In the end, practicing scream-singing can, besides creating proper screams, lead to an overall improvement of your singing skills. It can expand your vocal range, especially in the lower octaves (if you mostly practice low growls).
Also, mastering scream-singing will make your voice more powerful due to the amount of strength from your vocal cords, diaphragm, and lungs that you need to use in every screaming exercise. Over time, your singing stamina will benefit as well.
It seems like all you need to do now is practice, and don’t forget to be careful and persistent!
If you find learning to sing by yourself difficult, hiring a vocal coach might better suit your needs, or more simply, why not consider online singing lessons?
Want an easier way to practice and learn to sing? Check out our comprehensive guide on the best online singing lessons.