Training Requirements for Singing Pop-Rock

The lines in the music industry are starting to blur, and rock music is connected with pop. The singing styles are similar vocally, both use a wide range, more belt than head voice, and tone that ranges from funky to pretty.

Rock singers have heavy guitars backing them up and make a variety of sounds, from screams to moans. Both types of singers need to know how to keep their singing voices healthy for their demanding music. Healthy technique means making sure that your voice will last over time.

  • Sound: Because you have a microphone, you don’t need the same kind of intensity and clarity when singing pop-rock as you do when singing opera. Having a fuzzy tone is okay, as long as that’s your choice.

    Your microphone can help carry the sound if your tone isn’t clear and focused, but you have to have some clarity to amplify. Because the lines and phrases may not be as long and drawn out in this repertoire, you also don’t need the intensity of long, legato lines, as opera singers do.

    The latest technology in sound systems can instantly correct a singer’s wayward pitch. Newer karaoke machines and microphones use this technology, as do some famous singers. They don’t want you to know that their mic is correcting their pitch, but it’s true.

    A live performance of someone singing without the aid of pitch-correction technology shows imperfections or minor fluctuations, whereas a studio recording is perfectly mixed to add reverb to simulate resonance and edit out any minor slips of tone. You want solid technique so that you sound great without the aid of pitch correction.

    Choosing to delay the onset of the vibrato is also perfectly legal. You can sing with a straight tone and then allow the vibrato to happen later or at the end of the phrase. As you ascend in pitch, you can allow the sound to flip into another register or yodel. You can also allow the sound to get lighter as you ascend instead of growing stronger, as you may in opera or musical theater.

    Using a mix or a stronger middle voice sound is a choice that female singers make; guys can choose whether to use falsetto or head voice. You may not need a wide space in your mouth and throat as you do with other styles of music, such as classical music.

  • Healthy technique: When singing pop-rock music, you want a basic, solid, healthy technique, but your abilities need to blossom when it comes time to strut your stuff onstage. Pop singers are expected to dance and sing, so you need to be in shape (or be famous enough that you can choose not to dance).

    Try dancing and singing along with your favorite video, and you find that it takes skill to sing well when you’re dancing full out. Because the sounds rock singers make are often scratchy and close to screaming (think Meatloaf), rock singers need to be aware of how to keep making the funky sounds that fans adore without causing damage to their voice.

    Screaming too much for too long in concerts can tax the voice and cause fatigue, strain, and tone changes. To prevent damage, singers can use resonance to create sounds that they normally make by screaming.

  • Naming names: Karen Carpenter and Carly Simon (classic pop singers); Billy Joel, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, and Ann Wilson (classic rock singers); Katy Perry and Kesha (more contemporary pop-rock singers).

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