THE LEAD SCREAMER’S GUIDE By JAIME VENDERA © 2011 by Vendera Publishing
ARE YOU READY TO SCREAM??? The Lead Screamer’s Guide is your checklist to mastering some the sickest tones on the planet! Listen to the audio program, follow this guide, watch the accompanying video and scream your brains out to the accompanying music tracks and you’ll be fronting your own band in no time flat! Let’s get started:
THREE KEYS TO SCREAMING Mastering screaming can be summed up in three steps: 1. Mastering your vocal technique 2. Learning to warm up and cool down your instrument 3. Drinking TONS of water!
KEY #1- TECHNIQUE The basis of your technique is based the following three steps: A. BREATHING & SUPPORT- Correct breathing is THE #1 key to a singer’s lifelong vocal success. Combining breathing with breath support will turn you into a screaming machine. The best way to breathe is just like a baby breathes. When a baby inhales, their belly expands, when they exhale, it drops. I call this lower abdominal breathing, which is also known as diaphragmatic breathing. The best way to learn this is by lying on the ground with a book on your belly. When you inhale the book should rise, and when you exhale, it should drop. Practice this breathing exercise every night until you can stand up and naturally breathe the same way. Do NOT allow your shoulders to rise up or your upper chest to stick out when breathing this way. That will cause tension in your throat. Once you can breathe correctly, you need to learn how to control that airflow and add power for your scream. You do this by pushing down with your stomach like going to the bathroom. This will make your stomach muscles tight without forcing the release of extra air. In other words, this will add tons of power without brute force, excess breath or shouting. It’s the screamers “secret” to intense power. I call this “secret” the Power Push. It’s the same technique that babies naturally use when crying. You’ll notice that when a baby starts screaming, they never lose their voice. This secret is why! You can learn the technique by saying “Hut Hut Hike” like a football player. With each word push/tighten down, and you will feel the sound get bigger as it hits the roof of your mouth, which brings me to the next point.
B. FOCUSING THE SOUND- Focus ALL sounds and screams into the roof of your mouth Aka, the palate. The “Hut Hut Hike” sound will shoot that sound sensation up into the roof of your mouth and you will feel it like a buzzing sensation in the roof of your mouth. The reason that you want to feel the buzz in the roof of your mouth, is because that sensation is a sure sign that you aren’t over-tightening in the throat--over-tightening = strain = vocal loss. Another way to feel this sensation is to give a hearty laugh, like “Ha Ha Ha” to feel that sensation in the palate. When you feel an actual scream or any grit in the roof of your mouth, it will feel like a muffler on a motorcycle rumbling the palate in bursts. Always feel the scream in the palate and you will save your voice! C. CREATING DISTORTION- Getting those gritty overtones for screams begins in the throat. However, we must NOT try to make it happen by tightening the throat, which will be noticeable by a tight neck, bulging neck veins or a hoarse voice. The true secret of effortless screams is learning how to grunt without grunting. Practice this gently by going from clean to gritty. Think about when you’ve been frustrated and went “ahhhh” while you were aggravated. It sounded gritty and didn’t hurt your throat. That’s because you were able to bring the cords and false folds closer together without forcing it to happen. If you aren’t sure how to get there, try a vocal fry sound, or that groggy sound you make when you wake up in the morning. Make sure you feel the fry in the roof of the mouth. Remember, when practicing along with the songs don’t shout! Screams don’t need to be loud; the microphone will take care of the volume.
KEY #2- WARMING UP & COOLING DOWN Warming up the voice is like stretching your legs before running a race. A full warm up, including neck stretches and breathing is available in my book Raise Your Voice Second Edition. But a simple and effective warm up can consist of some Lip Bubbles, Gregorian Hums, some Gargling sounds and some vocal fry sounds. These warm-ups are covered in the bonus warm up mp3. Make sure to breathe correctly, support by pushing down and focus the sound into the palate. Don’t forget to keep all the exercises very clean and clear sounding, in other words no shouting or unnecessary breathy sounds. When you warm up, work the voice up as high as comfortable to extend your range. Your goal is to feel like the voice is ready to rock. When you feel like you are ready to rock, you will!!! ALWAYS warm up before practicing your
screams, jamming with your band, and before a gig. And ALWAYS cool down afterwards. Cooling down is just a way to work your voice back down into the lower speaking range to allow the vocal cords to reduce any swelling. Simply use the same exercises without using the mp3. Work down in range from high to low until you feel like your voice is relaxed.
KEY #3- DRINK TONS OF WATER Water IS the singer’s oil; it keeps the vocal cords lubricated, so that they don’t build up any friction that would cause them to become irritated. When the voice is well hydrated, this oil coats the cords in a clear slippery water/mucus mix. When you don’t have enough water in your system this oil will lack the water needed to dilute the mucus and the coating on the cords will become yellow and thick, which prevents the vocal cords from working properly. Thick yellow mucus on the cords is like engine oil sludge. Clearing the throat is a sure sign of a lack of hydration, so drink plenty of water to prevent from turning your vocal oil into sludge. Just so you know, drinking alcohol or caffeine-enhanced sodas will turn your oil into sludge! Aim for an ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. If you weigh 200 lbs, you should drink 100 ounces of water throughout the day. I personally drink at least a gallon a day and I weight around 170 lbs---but I like my water!
LET’S START SCREAMING! Time to review the screaming techniques. How do these sounds happen? Correct breath technique, breath support, focusing the sound into the palate (placement) and grunting without grunting are all key factors. The grunt without grunting is kind of like that frustrated sound you make when you are a bit aggravated and you sort of “grunt” to create that slight windy, husky sound. The key of course is to do this without necessarily feeling it in your throat. If you can focus on feeling it hitting the roof of your mouth and can feel a “rattling” or “muffler” sensation, you are on your way to releasing your inner scream without blowing out your voice! It is also important to note that it does NOT take a lot of volume to make these noises. Keeping this all in mind as you apply the following techniques to each type of scream.
LOW GUTTURAL SCREAMS Low guttural scream has to do with the way you use your lips and tongue. To create a low guttural scream, shape the lips into an “Ooo” as in “you”. BUT, you
want the sound to have more of an “urr” sound, so that it’s not a complete rounded “Ooo”. Once the lips are holding this shape, create a cup shape in the tongue, or a “U” shape. If you look in the mirror, the tongue should look like a U. Next, place the tip of the tongue against the roof of your mouth. By placing the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth, you’ll turn the “U” shaped tongue into a “cup”, essentially turning the tongue into a bowl. This cup keeps the sound low. If you raise the tongue up from the U shape, the pitch will lower. Likewise, positioning of the tip of the tongue affects the pitch as well. Move the tongue back and forth to obtain different harmonics and pitches. Move the tip of the tongue towards the back for lower screams and all the way forward for higher pitched screams. Don’t be afraid to add more downwards pressure for more intensity and energy. This will help to change the sound to a more brutal tone and allow you to feel more of the rumbling in your soft palate. On lower tones, feel it in your chest. More downwards pressure does NOT necessarily mean more volume or brute force. You can add tons of downwards pressure and still remain at a low volume. Remember, these scream do NOT take a lot of volume. Take your time learning this scream. Play around with moving your tongue along the roof of your mouth and if your voice gets tired, take a break. TIP: Remember it’s not about being loud, it’s about producing the right sound; so don’t shout to create any of these screams.
MID- RANGE SCREAMS Mid-range screams are more about increasing the grit resonance by changing the opening of your mouth, while changing the shape of the tongue. The lower the mid-range scream, the further back the tip of the tongue and more cupped shape the tongue. The higher the mid-range scream, the less cup shape you’ll maintain, and the further forward the tip of the tongue will slide, while changing the shape of the mouth. Instead of shaping the mouth for an “Ooo” as in “you”, think of opening the mouth way for an “Ahh” sound like in the word “hot”. Open up and yawn and you will find the mouth position. Mid-range screams don’t need as much tongue work. As you raise the pitch, the less tongue you’ll use because it isn’t necessary. The tongue at this point will prevent the higher pitch from being noticeable. If you keep the tongue cupped and the tip against the roof of the mouth, it isn’t going to sound as high.
HIGH SCREAMS Screaming extremely high is almost like whistle voice because the vocal cords
come together very tight. These type screams need an even wider mouth and an open palate; think of a very wide Steven Tyler mouth; Yawn wide while singing “AH”. Feel the resonance and grit sensation as if it were a rocket of sound shooting up through the top of the head. Feel the rumbling grit sensation/placement in the back part of the soft palate. If you take a quick breath you will feel a cold spot in the very back of the throat. This is where the grit sensation should be felt for this scream. As far as the tongue is concerned, you should almost curl the tip down for this scream. Place the tip at the back of the bottom teeth and keep it there. You don’t need nearly as much air on this scream as you would for a low guttural scream. When doing a high scream, try yawning and you’ll feel a lifting/narrowing at the back of the throat. The sound should feel as if it is being lifted into that spot. Remember the cold spot? As with any other scream, take your time, practice daily, breathe correctly, push down for support and don’t rush learning this scream. If you get tired, take a break.
THE DETH SIREN The Deth Siren is a cool trick to take you from low to high. It’s simply done by changing the mouth positioning, using the tongue for low screams and moving the grit sensation around on the roof of the mouth. When going from low to high start with: 1. 2. 3.
Low-Ooo mouth shape with cupped tongue, and tip of tongue is far back on the palate as possible. Mid-Begin to release the cupped tongue, while simultaneously moving the tip of the tongue from the back to the front of the palate, while opening from “Ooo” to “Ah”. High-Continue opening mouth to a wide “AH” as you move the sensation of the grit towards the back of your throat. Shoot the grit through the top of your head.
To slide down, simply reverse the process.
THE PIG SQUEAL The Pig Squeal is a scream with both a lower and higher pitch. You DON’T suck in to make this sound. Many people think this is how you do it, but that is incorrect. This scream is a little more involved than the other scream. Make a wide manic grin to create an “Eee” vowel sound. Keep the tongue very flat with the sides touching the sides of your lower teeth. Once you’ve widened the
tongue, arch the middle of the tongue and place the tip of the tongue up against the roof of your mouth at the top of the front teeth, shaping the tip to create a pinhole. The sound will actually shoot through this pinhole in the roof of mouth. To change the two tones, simply move the tip of the tongue backwards on the roof. By changing the size of the pinhole with the tongue you can create a wide change in pitch; by opening up the pinhole and arching the tongue higher towards the roof of the mouth, the pitch goes lower; the tighter the pinhole, the higher the pitch/overtones. TIP: If you want to punctuate your pig squeals, you need to raise the palate while opening the wide manic smile wider. Think “The Joker” from Batman.
THE PTERODACTYL Alas, a scream that is created by inhaling. Yes; this scream is done by “sucking in” your breath. The Pterodactyl requires you to inhale by closing the vocal cords tightly together. You can feel this vocal cord “clamping” by stopping the inflow of air by inhaling while vocalizing, “htt, htt, htt”. Remember, it is only a slight clamp to stop airflow. Don’t grunt; allow a bit of air to sneak past the cords. This scream should only be used as an effect. I don’t advise using it for the entire song. Don’t use words, just do it for an effect. Tip: Just like normal screaming, you can change the pitch by opening the mouth more, and by raising and lowering the palate. The more open and relaxed the palate the lower the Pterodactyl. If you move the sensation back to the cold spot, you’ll raise the pitch of this scream.
THE DETH WHISPER A Deth Whisper is a low very breathy gruff type sound. It kind of sounds like the voice that Christian Bale uses when playing the Batman character. It’s not really a whisper, but a low, breathy tone. It’s like letting out a non-vocal aggravated sigh on words. Don’t try to scream with the energy of any other scream in this system. Use this scream in moderation. You are pushing much more air passed your cords on this scream, so it will irritate the cords much easier than any other scream. This scream does take a lot more breath than the other screams and won’t sound as loud, but it will be more irritating to the vocal cords because of the amount of breath used. There are many bands who use this sound throughout entire songs. I advise using it sparingly, but that is your choice.
MULTI- HARMONIC SCREAMS I learned this scream from watching movies like “Gargoyles” and “The Exorcist”. I personally do this scream in a clean tone but lots of screamers will add grit. Think of it as a low volume, clean easy grunt with no grit when first learning this scream. You get that sound by bringing the cords together very tight while releasing air. I had a theory that it is created because the air forces more than one spot to open on the cords to create two tones. That theory was proven when my vocal cords were filmed for a show on National Geographic. Think of the multi-harmonic scream as a reverse Pterodactyl. While exhaling, release a “htt, htt, htt” to get the tone to split into two separate pitches. Do NOT use a lot of volume. Once you can create two tones, you can begin adding grit. The less air you use for this sound, the easier it will be to control. There are two versions; clean and gritty. Clean uses very little air; gritty uses a lot of air. Practice adding both to your songs sparingly.
NOW START PRACTICING!!! Don’t forget, it takes lots of PRACTICE. Practice these screams every day! Make sure you warm up and cool down and drink plenty of water. Breathe into the belly, push down for screaming power and focus the sound of each scream into the roof of your mouth, as you…feel for the rumble in the roof! Remember, if it hurts your throat, you are doing it wrong! Stop if it hurts and take a break. Take five, drink some water and try it again, with less volume. You don’t need to be super loud. Screams are produced at a low to moderate volume. IMPORTANT!!!- Remember to take care of your voice. Drink tons of water. If you blow out your voice, rest it for 24 hours and you’ll be good as new! BUT, if you follow all these guidelines, you won’t have to take a 24-hour vocal break!!! Final Tip: All singers should NOT smoke, minimize alcohol and caffeine consumption and make it a habit of taking Vitamin C, Calcium and Zinc everyday. As a final free gift to you, feel free to sign up for my free video report “The Five Essential Elements to Becoming an Amazing Singer” to learn more about vocal health. The link to this free video series is http://venderapublishing.com/five-vocal-secrets/. C-ya next lesson!