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Using “Creak” or “Vocal Fry” in Your Singing

Britney Spears, Enrique Iglesias and many other artists sometimes use creak to achieve heightened vocal emotion and intimacy -says David Combes.

Over the next few weeks I want to discuss some of the perils and opportunities of using vocal effects popular in commercial music.

Creak, also known as “vocal fry” or “slack”, comes from an area of your voice that feels like it is “below” your normal singing voice.

It is not only a vocal effect, but it is a kind of register used in many genres.

In order to find and use creek/vocal fry, it is important to know how your vocal cords work. It is perfectly safe, though singers should avoid overusing it and make sure it does not become their default setting.

See the video for some examples of how to use (and not use) this effect.

My Reaction to This Week's Singing Competition Entry

Alisha Clas Alisha Clas - One And Only

Hi Alisha, thanks for sending this in and congratulations on your vocals, this isn’t an easy song! I reckon there are a couple of things you could put in place that would really lift this video, without you having to do anything differently at all. The room that you chose to use to record in has a very bright acoustic; from what we can see it has several hard surfaces that are bouncing the sound right back at us. This isn’t really helping you as you have a strong, bright voice plus you are going through some sort of desk, does it have any built in reverb settings? If it is just amplifying your voice then you might want to think about getting a separate effects pedal, or recording without a hand held mic in a different room. For me there isn’t quite enough light and shade, try starting quieter, really think about the intimacy of the opening lyric, this will also give you somewhere to go. There are a few points in here where your agility isn’t quite matching up to what you want your voice to do (‘day’ at 15 seconds) and you sort of slide through a riff instead of getting every note exactly right – do a few agility exercises with a metronome, increasing the tempo bit by bit, to get your voice moving faster with accuracy, and those moments will sound much more crisp, but well done and thanks for submitting.

David Combes

David Combes has backed Beyoncé Knowles, Chaka Khan, Elton John, Annie Lennox, Lionel Richie and many more. He’s sung on several series of “The X Factor” and “Britain’s Got Talent”. His vocals have been in films such as “The Corpse Bride”, “Transformers”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Nine”, and “Pan” (end of 2015). He is also a solo performer and a tutor on the vocal faculty for The University of West London and for The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance. www.davidcombes.com