Five Tips to Sing Low Notes Like Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash was known for his incredibly rich baritone voice, characterised by a very low range and tonal depth unlike many other pop and rock singers. Learning how to sing low notes takes just as much time and practice as learning how to sing high notes – but there are a few key pointers that will make the process of learning to sing low notes like Johnny Cash a much smoother and simpler one.
One of the key aspects of learning how to sing like Johnny Cash is to avoid the temptation to impart an accent, or a drawl on your tone – remember, Johnny Cash wasn’t “trying to sing like Johnny Cash”, he was simply singing.
Sing Low Pitches With Vocal Placement
Vocal placement is a simple way to control your frequencies when you sing. Instead of letting your voice to charge and resonate with potentially inefficient or difficult frequencies, you should instead develop your placement first to ensure that you can sing low pitches with each.
While many classical singing teachers may advocate singing with specific placement like Masque or Mask placement, I instead prefer to limit any excess frequencies rather than try to add anything to my tone. This has allowed me to build a consistent singing voice over time that requires very little effort, while also retaining a rich and full timbre.
Sing Low Notes With a Bright Timbre
This one might seem a little strange at first, but just like I illustrated in the above Johnny Cash Cover, even low notes need to be bright. To sing low notes doesn’t really mean to sing with a muddy or boomy tone, it simply means that your vocal folds are vibrating at a slower speed – you still need to sing with frequencies that resonate within your vocal tract.
As you descend in range and try to sing low notes at the bottom of your range, you may find that you’re covering your tone a little, or allowing the sound to lower into your throat instead of singing with a nice bright and healthy tone like the one I’m using above.
Sing low pitches with the right vowels
Just because you CAN sing a song in your speaking voice, doesn’t mean you should. Your speaking voice and singing voice are ultimately two different applications of the same mechanism and really have very little in common. This is why a great singer often loses their speech accent when they sing. Singing the right vowels and producing your vowels in the right manner will allow you to resonate freely while also articulating your words in a very clear and concise manner. Vowels are key to so many aspects of singing, and learning to sing low pitches with the right vowels is no exception.
Not all voices are created equal
Remember, everyone’s voice is unique – try not to mimic or copy the tone or approach of another singer as you voice may simply be different and require an alternate approach to achieve the same sound or sing low pitches the way another singer does.
Sing Low Pitches without fear
Just like those high notes that freak you out, fearing your low range will make your voice react in all manner of inconsistent ways. Confidence in your singing abilities is very important, and will allow you to communicate with the involuntary musculature of your singing mechanism more effectively – the diaphragm and vocal folds respectively. Remember, these two muscles can’t be controlled directly, so your frame of mind and any ‘fear’ that you sing with WILL make them react in a defensive or inconsistent manner.
How to sing like Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash is one of my favourite singers – and while I do also love rock singers with an extensive high range like Chris Cornell, it’s good practice to also develop your low range properly. Some of the greatest singers of all time have been baritone singers, from Elvis and Eric Burdon through to Jim Morrison and Eddie Vedder.
Do you have a naturally low range, or are you looking to extend your low range further so that you can sing low pitches like Johnny Cash? A great place to start is the free foundations short courses available here at Bohemian Vocal Studio, and then when you’re ready to take your voice to the next level with professional voice coaching you can book a Skype Session and we’ll get started!
If you have any questions about singing low notes like Johnny Cash, feel free to leave any feedback or questions below!
Kegan DeBoheme is Bohemian Vocal Studio’s resident vocal coach and voice expert. He teaches professional singing and voice technique to students all around the world and enjoys providing tutorials like this one on how to improve your voice.