How can I learn how to growl? (Think the heavy bear growls vocals used in plays and metal music.)

I'm looking for free resources and/or exercises I can do myself; in either case I want to be able to learn the technique for doing this. Please recommend methods you've had experience with and explain why you recommend them.

  • 1
    I edited the question to better fit our policy of having answers that can be objectively evaluated according to criteria in the question. Hope you don't mind, I believe I kept the intent of your question intact.
    – user28
    May 23 '11 at 15:23
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    Well, get a dog and start imitating its noises? :P Ok, sorry, couldn't resist that.
    – Noldorin
    May 25 '11 at 1:40
  • I won't post it as an answer since I never tried, but do those videos on YouTube help? May 25 '11 at 7:35

There are called Death Growls, Wikipedia mentions this uncited piece about technique:

Growls can be obtained with various voice effects, but the effects are usually used to enhance rather than create, if they are used at all. Voice teachers teach different techniques, but long-term use will still take its toll - these techniques are designed to reduce rather than eliminate harm. The Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in The Netherlands reported in June 2007 that, because of the increased popularity of growling in the region, it was treating several patients for edema and polyps on the vocal folds.

Most "correct" growls use either a variation of vocal fry or false vocal cords. Death growls are often referred to as an overtone style of screaming, and while tonally very different, the majority of "good" growling techniques apply the same principles that are witnessed in "clean" vocals. These principles include timing and cues, holding a note (or gurgle) for a certain amount of time without it fraying, and being able to scream rhythmically underneath the growl while alternating between different pitches if necessary. The changes in pitch are more prevalent in the less guttural styles. Some notable examples of vocalists who use alternating pitches in their vocalisation are Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth, Chuck Billy of Testament, Jason Mendonca of Akercocke and Chuck Schuldiner of Death.

WikiHow has a detailed article on How to Do Harsh Death Metal Voices, please read the warnings first...


I've been a vocalist since my HS freshmen year which was 7 years ago, now in college and still with it.

If you want to growl low, like really low, learn a false chord technique. If you want more of a scream or airy sounding growl learn vocal fry. False chord will still deepen your voice and if pushed to hard to often can cause development of the dreaded nodes on your vocal chords or false chords (located just above the vocal chords).

It's nigh impossible to safely learn false chord technique without first learning vocal fry. This is because you have to feel where the sound is coming from. If you are properly engaging false chords you will feel and potentially hear a faint electronicy buzz above your vocal chords.

It took me three years to get my fry to a place where it wasn't incredibly difficult to perform consistently. This is not a quick process and it will be quiet when you start out. Your goal is to find the fry register. This sound is made by vibrating your vocal chords in combination with intense diaphramatic pressure. First make the "grudge sound" an easy way to achieve this is to make a note and hold it, then slowly use less and less air until you hear that creaky sound you made to annoy people as a kid. Tighten that and push with your diaphragm. Half Lower your larynx and raise your soft pallet high... As high as you can. That's all I can really describe in text look at some vids on the tube, but ignore any vocal feud that sound not like crazy high pitched shrieks because the sound isn't coming from the soft pallet they are using their throats.

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