Many people adore the likes of Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart because of their unique raspy voice. In fact, many aspiring singers sometimes would try to mimic the raspy voice of these two artists. I, myself, had tried to imitate Rod Stewart when I was young, and I got applauded for doing so. But my voice isn’t naturally raspy; it is well-modulated. Thus, I think if I go on mimicking Rod Steward, I would be damaging my vocal cords in the long run. But is there a safe way of making my voice sound raspy?
Well, health experts and some vocal experts would surely say there is no safe way. In fact, they would say: “It is bad for your vocal cords if you go on doing that.” But if you are insistent on doing it, you should do it occasionally to avoid permanent damage to your vocal cords.
Scientifically, if there is an incomplete contact between your vocal cords, your voice would sound raspy. Thus, if you are desirous of sounding raspy, all you need to do is configure your vocal folds in such a way that there is an incomplete contact between your vocal cords. You can really fake a raspy voice. You merely need to tense your neck and force enough air out while singing. But as experts have said earlier, if you go on doing this, you may end up with damaged vocal cords. Thus, if ever you want to sound raspy, don’t overdo it.
Why Does Raspy Voice Sound Attractive?
There are many reasons why the raspy voice sounds attractive. One reason is that it sounds sexy. If you would hear, for example, the voice of Demi Moore, you would surely say it sounds sexy. Singers with a raspy voice, likewise, are always liked. Rock stars, with a raspy voice, are good to listen to. In fact, I don’t even get tired listening to the voice of Bryan Adams. It is not superfluous, therefore, to say that there is something in the raspy voice that makes it sound attractive. Moreover, having a raspy voice as a singer will surely add to the appeal of your voice. Hence, there are many singers who want to make their voice sound a bit raspy.
Techniques on How to Sing in Natural Raspy Voice
1) Master Vocal Edginess
The vocal cords, in some ways, are controllable. Hence, by practicing, you can give your voice a bit of edginess. This is possible by learning how to do a “glottal stop.” The glottal stop is also called glottal attack if you push it to the extreme. This technique is designed to bring in enough intensity to your voice. It is not, however, what we commonly call “vocal roughness.” But you can achieve it by cutting off the air flow through your throat; then, building up the pressure; and letting the air all at once.
2) Built up Enough Tension in Your Neck While Singing
As said earlier, you can make your voice sound raspy if you let your vocal cords incompletely touch each other. You can achieve this by tensing your neck while expelling much air while singing. This creates the necessary tension that prevents complete contact between vocal cords. This will also result in a raspy singing voice. It is not harmful to sometimes sing using this method.
However, if you are going to record an album and you are going to sing in a raspy way, you may end up having damaged vocal cords. Moreover, if you are going to sing in a raspy voice throughout a concert, you may end up hurting your vocal cords. So, don’t overdo it.
3) Mimic a Coughing Sound
When you want to expel phlegm from your throat, you usually cough it out. You cough by forcing air out of your throat. You will notice that when you do this, you create a raspy sound. Thus, if you mimic the act of coughing while singing, you will end up producing a raspy voice. The deep grinding within your throat will then translate to a raspy voice.
This coughing voice technique is very useful especially when you sing at the lower vocal range. You can project your singing voice with a little bit of coughingness voice in combination.
4) Let Saliva Accumulate in your Throat when You Sing
Since raspy sound is made due to the incomplete contact between vocal cords, you can position your vocal cords at an incomplete contact with each other by letting some saliva gather on your throat. Afterward, you tighten your throat muscles to allow airflow. The saliva on your throat will surely limit the flow of air. Eventually, you will be able to create a raspy sound.
5) Make Use of Technology
The use of contemporary technology can help you make your voice sound raspier. There are many software that are used to enhance the sound. You can make use of these software. You can also avail of the service of a sound engineer who can make your voice sound a bit raspy in your recordings. In this way, you can record a song with a raspy voice without necessarily straining your vocal cords. But, in the live performance, you have to use your own raspy voice singing skills and techniques to bring the raspy feel live.
Additionals Tips & Warnings: Sing In Raspy Voice Without Damaging/Hurting Your Vocal Chord
Warm up Before Singing in a Raspy Voice
Prior to attempting to sing in a raspy voice, you should warm up your vocal cords and do the appropriate exercise. Start with a breathing exercise. Then, proceed with the scales. Then, go on with trills and hums. Proper warmup can surely help prevent significant damage to your vocal cords. It can also prep up your vocal cords for singing in a raspy voice.
Determine the Limitation of your Voice and Know When to Stop
You may sound pleasing to other people if you can sound raspy. But always remember that if you don’t have a natural raspy voice, you should know the limitation of your vocal cords. If you feel that singing in a raspy voice is already stressing your vocal cords, you should stop singing in a raspy voice. Rest your vocal cords and drink warm water. It is better to be on the safe side than regret it later.
Use It Only Within Your Natural Range
Most singers tend to use the raspy voice in the high notes. This is a self-damaging technique that the untrained singers often applied to hide or cover their vocal weaknesses in the higher notes. They over-choked or over-grinded the pitch with the roughness voice when running through the higher notes range. It will lead to permanent vocal cord damage if the singer use it in the high notes intensively.
As a singer, it is crucial that you keep yourself hydrated. When you sing with a dry throat, you may end up producing enough friction in your throat. Hence, you should drink water. You should also drink eight glasses of water or more every day to keep yourself hydrated. Refrain likewise from eating unhealthy food and avoid unhealthy habits.
You should always try to sing within your natural voice range to avoid damage to your vocal cords. You can add a bit of rasp to your voice but don’t overdo it. Moreover, you should keep your vocal cords safe while trying to develop a raspy singing voice. Don’t sing all the parts of a song in this kind of voice. You should only pick those parts wherein you can insert a raspy voice. This means you should use your raspy voice sparingly.