How to sing like Chris Cornell
Wanting to learn how to sing like Chris Cornell was actually one of the very first reasons I started learning how to sing – the incredible high range, control, power, he really had it all! In this singing tutorial, I’m going to show you how to sing like Chris Cornell by developing your voice in the same manner he used to hit high notes and resonate like crazy.
One of the most important parts of a healthy voice is register release, learning how to coordinate connection between your registers. We’ve all heard of Chest and Head voice, but were you aware that these two main registers can actually coordinate together to create a third, powerful register called MIX? I really wish someone had told me that/showed me how to do this from day one – that belting, crazy sound he sang with wasn’t due to a ‘pushed’ Chest Voice sound, it was actually due to a powerfully built MIDDLE register that was voice trained over many years with the right techniques.
Releasing your registers as you ascend allows you to keep a connected and ‘zipped’ vocal chord coordination that sails way up into your high range with all the power you associate with ‘chest voice’, but without any of the tension or strain you’re currently experiencing. This register release allows you to sing in the mix coordination and build a truly powerful and extensive vocal range.
Learning control of your registers will allow you to develop the proper chord coordination required to learn how to sing like Chris Cornell with POWER and EASE into your high range.
#1 – Learn how to sing in middle voice
If you want to learn how to sing like Chris Cornell, releasing from your Chest Voice into your MIDDLE voice is absolutely paramount. It’s important to understand how your vocal chords come together to create ‘chest voice’ and ‘head voice’ first, and secondly you need to learn how to connect and bridge the two by using what is commonly called Middle or Mix Voice.
Your middle voice is the result of coordination between the muscles that create your chest voice, the TA (thyroarytenoid) and those that create your head voice, the CT (cricothyroid). By centrally balancing these registers so that you have a fluid and ever changing coordination rather than a dominant pull or push in either direction, you can retain the rich depth of chest voice while accessing the impressive range allowed by your head register.
I’m quite often asked by beginner singers “How does Chris Cornell belt so high?” when in actual fact he was often singing in a released middle coordination and simply tuning his resonance in a very narrow and bright way for the most efficient use of his frequencies. If you want to learn how to sing like Chris Cornell, you’re going to need to learn how to sing in mix voice via coordination of the CT and TA muscles.
#2 – Learn the right vowels
While we often pronounce our vowels in speech using our articulators – the lips, teeth and tongue, singing actually requires a specific tongue shape and corresponding vocal tract width for each of your vowel sounds. As an example, AH is the widest vowel sound and requires a concave tongue, while EE is the most narrow vowel and requires you to raise the back of your tongue.
Vowel shaping is incredibly important in your quest to sing like Chris Cornell, and if you listen very closely when Chris Cornell sings, you can hear that his vowels are very clearly resonant rather than a pronounced sound. Shape your vowels for the best approach to singing like Chris Cornell.
Further to the point I made earlier about Chris Cornell not being stuck in ‘belt’ mode when he sang, you’ll notice that Chris Cornell was able to articulate absolutely every sing word that he sang into his high range without resorting to the common issue that Male singers often experience – a lack of EE or OO vowels high in your range. This is due to the overly wide vocal tract setup required for belting and is a product of poor technique, where Chris Cornell actually retained his EE and OO sounds due to correct shaping and tuning of his vowels.
#3 Tune your vowels
Even with these special singing vowels, you’re likely to run into trouble with voice breaks here and there – that’s why it’s SO important to tune your vowels as you ascend in range. Basically, everyone’s vowels require a different character, or different ‘width’ as you ascend in range, due to physical differences in the vocal tract, vocal mechanism and of course – level of vocal technique. Tuning your vowels does require some professional help from a vocal coach and a little patience (lots of practice, too!), but it’s a simple concept at heart and really is the cornerstone of any POWERFUL singing approach.
Learning how to tune your vowels properly will allow you to sing with a POWERFUL resonance that is connected and consistent well up into your higher range. The most common way to tune your vowel is known as vowel modification, but is ultimately just a subtle change in the width and shape of your vocal tract via use of the tongue root and soft palate. Develop control over these often misunderstood vocal elements and you will be singing high into your range while connecting Chest Voice vs Head Voice with ease.
#4 Learn how to sing consonants sounds correctly
Singing isn’t just about crazy range and special vowels, learning how to sing consonant sounds is also a very important part of a healthy singing voice. Every accent, voice type and native tongue approaches consonant sounds DIFFERENTLY, so it’s important to get your consonant sounds correct with the right tongue shape and airflow required in a powerful singing voice. Chris Cornell was a master of singing powerful consonant sounds without strain, so if you want to learn how to sing like Chris Cornell – you have to MASTER your consonant sounds!
My approach to consonant sounds is to group them into their respective types and form an individual approach to each consonant considering my student’s range, voice type and native tongue.
How to sing like Chris Cornell
Have you built your middle voice, developed a powerful approach to consonant sounds and learned how to sing the right vowel sounds for a healthy singing voice so that you can learn how to sing like Chris Cornell? If you’re ready to power up your singing voice and learn how to sing songs like Jesus Christ Pose and Black Hole Sun, you can book a session with me personally and I’ll SHOW you how it’s done!
Feel free to leave any questions or feedback 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.