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The Truth about Belting | Rock Singing Technique

Why is everyone so obsessed with Belting? I ask myself at least a few times a week here at Bohemian Vocal Studio. If you’ve built your voice from the ground up (like I teach here at BVS!), then sure, belting is a great ‘cherry on top’ of the solid, strong voice you’ve developed – but it’s not a voice type, or even an approach to singing itself, it’s really an effect, just like distortion, that can be produced in a safe manner if you’ve been shown how (you can book a session with me now to develop your singing technique!), but can just as easily be abused and misused in a way that is first of all just plain unpleasant, and secondly can be truly damaging to your voice. Basically, If you haven’t yet been taught how to sing a relaxed, high note in a pleasant, bright, resonant timbre – don’t try to belt it, you’ll hurt your voice.

The top 5 misconceptions about belting…

 

It’s a dark tone, I need to sound darker in my high register! – Absolutely not. To belt correctly, you need to develop a bright, open, relaxed and resonant vocal timbre that is free of any dark ‘covering’ or strain. This is probably the top issue that I face with students obsessed with belting from day 1 – “I want to sing darker!”, or “I don’t care about singing clear, I just want to belt!”. Belting is an effect, not a cause – if you develop your vocal mechanism correctly from day one, learning to belt correctly is a total cinch. Tip: Power comes from a bright timbre that is forward placed and well supported.

You have to move ALOT of air to belt. – Again, another common misconception. To belt correctly, you have to hold back your air in place of air pressure. When you belt, the pressure of the air held and compressed by your diaphragmatic breathing technique increases, but the airflow itself actually decreases. I refer to this as airpressure vs airflow. The more you ‘hold back’ your air using techniques like Inhalare la Voce and develop your breathing approach, the more resonance and power you’ll have in your bag of singing tricks. Tip: Adduct your vocal chords and adjust your air flow properly.

Just sing higher with Chest Voice! – I actually had a renowned singing coach tell me this personally once, I can only shudder to think of what this would do to your vocal health. Run screaming from anyone who ever tells you anything like this – all that bloody screaming is probably STILL better for your voice than ‘pulling chest’.  No, belting is no pulling your chest voice higher – there’s a reason why your “middle voice/mixed voice” is referred to as your BELT register. That’s right, you must transition into mixed voice before you can belt properly, I recently posted a lesson about the mixed voice.

You have to modify your vowel late – This is the only point I can see some sense in, even if it’s isn’t technically 100% correct. Modifying your vowel a little later is actually caused by differences in the frequencies you’re creating/resonance chambers you’re making use of when you belt (vs. regular/classical singing), it’s not the reason that you’re belting.

You either have it, or you don’t. – Another psychological vocal setback is the attitude of “I’m just not a good singer” or “They just have it naturally” – Did you know how to shift gears in a car before you were shown? Did you know how to work out ((5+7) x 7) + 22 = 106 until you learned Math correctly? Did you know how to cook a curry before looking up a recipe? Of course not. And those that are quicker to learn these skills may very well have a natural aptitude, sure, but they don’t have any physical advantage over you in any form – they just got there accidentally or worked out how to do it a little sooner. You really CAN learn how to sing better, increasing your range, sing with power and improve your voice – you just need the right information, the right approach and just as important, the right attitude.

I’ve put together fun quiz to see if you’re ready to learn how to belt and sing with power:

[HDquiz quiz = "35"]

If you’re ready to start building your own powerful singing voice and develop the right technique so you can belt with ease and develop your voice into a total powerhouse, you can book a session with me now!

Feel free to leave any feedback below, don’t forget your quiz results too!

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.

10 thoughts on “The Truth about Belting | Rock Singing Technique

  1. 3/3. Haha of course.

    As you know this is all I’ve ever wanted (or a major part of well I’ve ever wanted)

    Next lesson soon.

  2. Loved all the information about proper belting techniques. I never realized how much time and effort should go into belting. Is there a way you could let us hear the differences? I think that could help some of us who can follow better by sounds. I also love how you are willing to help others learn the correct way. I feel the article was very positive.

    1. Thanks Marcey! Positivity is key to so many things in life.

      I’ve shown the difference between belting and a classical singing tone on my YouTube channel before, but you’re right – I should add it to this lesson, thanks again!

      Let me know if you have any questions about your voice!

      K

  3. I can see there some sort of algorithm in place when belting. I tried inhaling air and it does makes a difference in tone of voice. I never knew different tasks need to be placed in order for a good tone. Do you have trouble belting at a high level? I can only imagine the repetitiveness it brings. My friend produces beats and vocals. This will defiantly help the basics…after all going back the basics is where you achieve success!

    1. Hey Jonathan! Thanks for your message – yeah absolutely, building a healthy foundation is the key to power and strength in your voice. Belting can only be achieved in the middle/mix voice, so, no – I have no issue belting into my upper middle range, however it’s best to transition into your high register at a reasonable pitch so you’re not causing strain.

      Let me know if you have any other questions about your voice!

      K

  4. Wow. Thanks so much for this well presented information.

    I have always wondered about how the rock singers sang so effectively without damaging their vocal chords. So it was belting… and not shouting or singing in a high chest voice. Sure sounds like it though :). Great technique then.

    I remember one of my favourite groups, Van Halen’s many talented singers belting. In particular Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth and I always found that very energetic and engaging. I was amazed at how high and powerful they sounded.

    I have found that some singers have terrible misconceptions about singing in general.
    I have also found some singers to be quite disinterested in learning the proper techniques as well.
    Maybe it’s because some have “natural” ability and figure that they shouldn’t have to go through the process of learning these techniques properly.

    What do you think?

    1. Thanks David!

      Absolutely – it’s all about healthy technique!

      Changing misconceptions about the voice is almost a daily task for me as a vocal coach – I like to think “Tabula Rasa”, or, starting with a clean slate, is the best way to develop a great singing voice. And I do agree, there is ALOT of people who just don’t care about their voice, and I do get the occasional student who just wants to belt and scream…. without bothering to learn how to sing in a healthy manner first. It’s all about perception and your attitude, it’s always ‘from the foundation up’ when you’re building a home, and singing is no different…

      Let me know if you have any other questions about your voice!

      K

      1. Ok thanks.

        Am I to assume that rock singers knew how to belt properly because they did voice training?
        Or did they inquire how the others did it?

        Is it a known technique in the area of rock generally, or did they figure it out on their own?

        What are your thoughts on this?

        1. Hey David!

          Yes and no… Some did, some didn’t. That isn’t to say that rock belting is healthy or unhealthy, there’s healthy AND risky ways that both sound pretty cool to the general listeners.

          Depends on the singer. For example, Paul Rodgers apparently never took lessons, but as a coach I can hardly fault even one note of his singing for the last nearly 50 years (in fact, he’s even BETTER now at 65+ years old than when he was 20). Whereas I know Chris Cornell did some serious training to develop his voice and technique.

          It is a known technique in most styles actually, it features pretty heavily in ‘diva’ R’N’B, and soul stuff like Aretha Franklin, stage musicals… Opera even! I’d say modern pop is pretty devoid of both belting and good singing technique in general – lots of breathiness, raised larynx and generally super edited vocals on the airwaves these days…. whereas guys like Ray Charles, or Steve Perry could REALLY sing.

          K

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