How Do Rock n Roll Singers Hit High Notes?
Chris Cornell, Robert Plant, Myles Kennedy, Layne Staley and other great Rock n Roll singers have one thing in common – They can sing high notes without straining. This singing tutorial will show you how to hit high notes with ease like your favourite Rock n Roll singers, while sharing with you the most important singing techniques you need for a powerful Rock n Roll singing voice.
Following these simple steps and developing the techniques I’m about to share with you will allow you to sing high notes without straining and build a powerful voice just like your favourite famous rock singers.
What to do if you can’t sing high notes
If you can’t sing high notes, then this is simply a lack of coordination between the various elements responsible for your singing voice rather than a physical limitation of your singing mechanism. Male singers in particular use a dispropotionate amount of thyroarytenoid engagement – in essence, singing with too much chest voice weight rather than allowing your voice to blend and connect between the chest and head register. The first step you need to take is setting up a strong foundation for your voice – your voice will only be as strong as your foundation, so step up to the plate with proper posture, diaphragmatic breathing and resonance placement for easier high notes and ultimately a healthier singing voice.
As you can see, the mysterious “mix voice” that you likely keep hearing about is simply a central coordination between the muscles responsible for chest voice (the thyroarytenoid) and those responsible for head (crycothyroid) and requires an efficient and accurate approach to the various elements of your voice, from onsets to register release.
How do you sing high notes without straining
By coordinating the various aspects of your singing mechanism, like your middle voice, onsets, vowels and resonance placement, singing high notes becomes an easy and enjoyable pursuit, in fact – you’ll likely find that you have a LOT more range than you ever imagined once you’ve developed your middle voice and you’re singing with the right frequencies.
Singing high notes is easier than you think, and simply requires you to sing using the right vocal tract width, the correct vowel shape and proper use of your resonators to ‘ping’ at a high frequency rather than pushing and straining to hit high notes.
Sing higher notes by tuning your vowels
Each vowel sound has it’s own natural vocal tract width – from the wide AH vowel to the narrow EE vowel. The secret to singing high notes without straining is to alter the width of your vocal tract in a fluid and ever changing way throughout your range to allow for each different resonant space you pass through as you ascend. A great way to learn resonance tuning is to modify your vowel – by altering the character of your vowel sounds, you allow for better use of your resonators, and easier access to your high range. As an example, your first break generally requires a touch of extra width in the vocal tract to allow connection between your resonators in the middle range – you accomplish this width in a number of ways, the easiest being vowel modification where you alter a vowel such as AH to an OH backwards towards the soft palate. The most efficient and accurate way to tune your resonance is to develop control over the actual musculature that in turn makes vowel modification possible – the tongue root, the shape of your tongue itself and also your soft palate.
Beyond this first break, you’ll need to return to the neutral space of the pure vowel itself, and in some cases/some voices you may need to even narrow your vowel at this point to activate your unique resonators as you ascend up into your high range.
Vowel tuning is a subtle and fine tuned process that takes time, training and consistent practice. Make sure your approach to singing includes an approach to resonance tuning beyond simply modifying your vowel without knowing how or why this allows you to sing higher.
Why can’t i sing high notes anymore
If you’re experiencing a dimished range where high notes that were once easy have started to falter, it’s likely you have an imbalance in your coordination, and a lack of proper vocal technique has started to take it’s toll on your voice. It’s easy to regain your high range with proper vocal training, but it’s important that you treat your voice as a ‘new instrument’ – often singers who have been singing for some time and are now experiencing issues hinder their own recovery and progress with expectations and misunderstanding of their ‘former glory’. If you were hitting high notes in your youth through pushing and squeezing, then this was never proper vocal technique, even if it ‘worked’ most of the time. So, it’s important that you start fresh with your breath support, vocal placement and approach to vowels so that you treat your voice as the delicate instrument that it truly is. Singing high notes should be easy, comfortable and strain free – if you’re pushing to hit high notes, you WILL lose the ability to access your high range eventually, and you’ll need to start from scratch with your vocal technique to ensure proper resonance and retraining of those bad habits – fix your technique now before it’s too late!
Who are the best male Rock Singers all time?
This is a subjective question, but generally, you can judge how healthy a singer’s vocal technique is by how well their voice ages. A singer like Paul Rodgers now sings even more powerfully and confidently than he did in the 1960’s, showing that healthy technique really will make your voice last a lifetime – extreme range and distortion aren’t everything in the world of rock.
Rock ‘n Roll thrives on dubious vocal technique as a unique voice is often coveted more than a healthy and proper voice – but the secret to singing Rock ‘n Roll is that good technique is good technique, and healthy singing technique will actually ALLOW you to sing high and distorted notes with a unique delivery without any risk to your voice.
Some of my favourite singers include Chris Cornell, Steven Tyler, Layne Staley, Myles Kennedy, Richie Kotzen, Eric Burdon – each with their own unique instrument and a wholly individual approach to singing. Famous rock singers have often trained extensively to attain the range and power they are known for, so make sure your voice coach understands that rock ‘n roll singing isn’t about pushing and straining, it’s simply about powerful and efficient coordination of your vocal mechanism for a precise and unique delivery that makes the best use of your unique vocal mechanism.
If you’re ready to take your voice to the next level with professional voice training, you can book a Skype session today here at Bohemian Vocal Studio and learn how to sing with the premier online vocal studio for Rock Singing Lessons. Coaching touring professionals and beginner singers alike, Bohemian Vocal Studio has become the fastest growing voice coaching studio in the world – why go local when you can go global?
If you have any questions about ROCK singing technique, please leave any feedback or queries 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.