On a number of occasions I've tried growling like Tom Waits, Louis Armstrong or other blues singers and I've tried the death-metal "cookie monster" growl for vocal parts.

The problem is that I can feel the injury to my vocal chords after trying this for even a single song.

How do I growl without hurting my vocal cords?

  • 2
    Somewhere out there, there's a DVD with an entire course on how to do this safely, but it's not something that will fit into an answer here. Try to find that video/DVD. Mar 21, 2018 at 1:17
  • The medical term is "vocal fry." Safe, successful application of this technique to produce the desired output sound depends on careful study with a voice coach. Mar 21, 2018 at 11:20
  • 1
    @ToddWilcox I find that difficult to believe. Virtually any specific musical technique can be summarized in a few paragraphs.
    – empty
    Mar 21, 2018 at 16:03
  • @pro... Enough to learn it well with just a few paragraphs?
    – BruceWayne
    Mar 21, 2018 at 22:01
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    @ToddWilcox -- one popular such DVD is Melissa Cross's "Zen of Screaming" Nov 7, 2019 at 20:30

1 Answer 1


My guess would be that you're trying to produce the fry from too high in your throat. Straining and constricting your throat in order to produce fry can be very harmful to your voice in the long term.

Think of bellowing, shouting very loudly or sighing - when done effectively, this comes from the chest even if it is distorted. It's the same with vocal fry. To practice the technique required to produce a death metal-style growl, you need to start with the same type of exhaling you use when sighing or huffing. To be honest though, video tutorials on sites like YouTube would be a better place to go to look for information on this - just make sure you look for someone who doesn't produce fry by constricting their throat. Even better would be to find a vocal teacher who can instruct you one-on-one so you don't hurt yourself.

Producing fry when you're not used to it is like exercising a muscle you've not exercised before - no matter what technique you use, it will ache a bit to start. With bad technique, you can really damage that muscle (or your throat), but with good technique you will be able to produce fry without much strain at all and with no lasting damage.

This is all coming from my experience as a metal vocalist. I'm not sure how Louis Armstrong produced his signature sound.

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