HOW TO SING BETTER by Using Cry Quality: One Application of this Effect

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Cry is a widely used quality/effect in singing that can add a new emotional dimension to our singing. In this video, I demonstrate and offer several samples – probably too many! – of it being used by singers in different genres. Then, I show you how you can access this particular effect.

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24 thoughts on “HOW TO SING BETTER by Using Cry Quality: One Application of this Effect”

  1. woah! you added video clip examples!!
    I love it!! it’s nice to hear actual examples in pop and operatic songs.

    I definitely will keep in mind what you said about overdoing it with any one singing quality!

    great visual with the ‘English speaking puppy’. Lolol

    1. I’m glad it was helpful, (although in viewing the edited video, I realized that I probably could have used fewer examples because that section was much longer than expected)!

    2. +singwisevocals hindsight is always 20/20. Lol
      I’m just happy you’re adding new things (video example clips, humor, etc) to your videos to complement your wonderful teaching style!

    3. Did you see my video comparing jaw and mouth opening between classical and CCM? I included several example clips in that video, too, and viewers responded favourably, so I thought it might be something to do from time to time when the topic merits it. In this case, I wanted to provide a lot of examples from different singers and genres to show that it’s truly a legitimate effect that is widely used.

  2. OMG I’ve been wanting to ask you you’re opinion and sorta diagnosis on Lea Michele! She is my all time favorite singer.

    1. Stylistically, I didn’t like some of her singing on Glee early on, but I think she found her legitimate pop sound in later seasons. (It wasn’t her voice, but what she did with it sometimes.) I absolutely fell in love with her voice when she sang On My Own at the Hollywood Bowl. I can honestly state that hers is my absolute favourite performance of that song ever… even above Carrie Hope Fletcher’s, whose voice is the most perfectly stunning one that I’ve ever heard. But Lea Michele has some amazing technical skill, for sure.

  3. I got into the habit of ending every phrase with this cry thing lol and now I have to teach myself to sing without it cus as you say in this video too much of it can be bad))

    1. Overuse of this particular effect is actually one of the reasons why I didn’t love Lea Michele’s singing in the first couple seasons of Glee. Sometimes it’s not even eliminating it from our artist’s palettes that’s necessary, but making it more subtle. That can help a lot.

  4. I would just like to say thank you very for the material you’ve been posting. I’ve started reading your blog a few months ago and I have to say it’s helped me immensely in getting the grasp of the details of the technique bit by bit. I’ve restarted studying classical singing after some good five years and your insights are so important to me when it comes down to understanding what my teacher demands. I wish you all the best and, once again, thank you for helping people all over the world in finding their way into their real voice 🙂

  5. I could never go past F4 let alone G4 , today I was messing around with the cry effect and I was able to get a G4 very effortlessly , it was very loud and i didn’t feel any pain in my throat whatsoever, it has the same sensation when I do it at C4 or A3, here are some problems I faced,
    1. after passing D4 either I can do it very quietly or very loudly,if I try to do it at a medium volume then the tone gets distorted
    2. When I try to sustain a note using the cry especially at loud volume first I can feel my digastric, stylohyoid and all those muscles below the chin engaging so I am guessing I back to yelling again , cause from what I have heard they should be engaged even when singing high, I don’t feel those muscles engaging at C4 but as I go up and i try to sustain a note, they kick in 🙁
    I also wanted to let you know that I am fairly a new singer and I couldn’t even do this whiny cry pharyngeal,nasal sound before even in my chest voice range,it would sound ugly and distorted but now i can. So I think my muscles are now stronger and more coordinated but clearly I have a lot of training to do

    So what do you think is my issue here? am I doing it incorrectly or am I just not ready for that full chest dominant mixed voice yet cause my muscles are not strong enough yet?

    sorry for my bad english 🙁

    1. Your English is perfectly fine! If your suprahyoid muscles (the muscles under the chin) are engaging once you get into and above your passaggio, you’re likely engaging the tongue root (and possibly adding jaw tensions). This could mean that you are going too high too soon and that you need to slowly build this range, making sure that your technique is consistently correct on each note leading up to those troublesome notes first. See what happens when you place your tongue atop the bottom lip – don’t stick it out very far or slide the jaw forward when you do this – and then bring the upper lip down onto the tongue. Now do a gentle puppy dog whimper in the pitch range where you start to notice the suprahyoid muscles engaging. Do they engage when you do this gentle puppy dog whimper with the tongue tip a bit forward like this? If so, you need to be able to separate the functions of the hyoid bone and tongue. The hyoid bone tends to elevate the larynx a bit for cry technique, but you might be engaging the tongue root to pull up on the hyoid bone. If so, you’ll need to become more kinaesthetically aware and conscious of this habit. When you stick out your tongue, you can try gently biting down on it to help keep it wide and released. This sometimes triggers a release lower in the base of the tongue. Also, examine the actions of the soft palate because it shares muscular attachments with the base of the tongue. Let me know how you do with this.

    2. no actually I can do the gentle puppy sound without straining on any note above my first bridge as well as above my second bridge 🙂 I couldn’t do that before without getting into falsetto which didn’t really have a bright light sound to it but now it sure does and I can sure hold each note above F4 for longer than 20 seconds,sometimes I can hold for 40 seconds so I think I have good support. I just can’t add more weight to the sound, I have a hard time engaging that pharyngeal tone ,either its too quiet or its straining, I can add more weight with the low larynx opera sound though 🙂
      I have this weird vocal disorder which I should probably tell you, I asked this to a couple of youtube coaches here but so far no help 🙁
      So basically I can’t do a simple vocal fry sound during the day,especially when my body is in a vertical position so like i am sitting or walking, what happens is that I loose all the lower notes in my range, such as notes below A2 is literally impossible to sing cause it gets breathy, also my speaking voice goes higher in pitch and it sounds breathy unless i am pushing the sound, it also effects my head voice, if I lay down on the bed for like 30 minutes then the vocal fry comes back again and i can sing those low notes again just like i can when i wake up in the morning and my speaking voice is a lot deeper in the morning as well as during the day if i lay down on the bed for like 30 minutes or longer, I feel like the mucus and phlegm goes to another place other than my vocal cords when i am in a laying position but as soon as i get up in a vertical position which is either sitting standing or walking i feel like the mucus and phlegm goes back to my vocal cords again which prevents me from talking properly as well as singing properly. I was wondering if you have ever seen anything like this before from anyone before? if so then what should I do about it?

      PS I also went to 3 ENT doctors and so far they were of no help 🙁

  6. Seems no one else but you uses examples! They describe “cry,” etc., and offer exercises to get the feel of it, and that’s fine, but they don’t use examples to demonstrate why & where it’s used. So … thank you!

    1. You’re welcome. Thanks for the encouraging comment. I find that often when teachers demonstrate ‘cry,’ they’re actually teaching ‘sob,’ which is a bit different in both coordination and quality (i.e., it’s produced with a lower larynx and is darker in quality). I have a separate video on sob quality.

    1. It’s so funny that you’re posting this comment! I was actually going to record a Part 2 to this and the ‘sob’ quality videos yesterday, but ran out of time. So, I’m thinking of recording that video topic tomorrow. Stay tuned. (Any specific questions that you have about it?)

    2. I just posted a video with Christopher David Mitchell. We talk about sob and cry, as well as mixed voice and belting. Maybe this might be helpful.

  7. Wonderful job as always Karyn!! I never thought of sob and cry as being distinct nuances so that was extremely helping and fascinating as well!!

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