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What SHOULD Distortion feel like?

Ken mentioned in a recent video that there's a tickle feeling that you SHOULDN'T feel if you're doing the distortion right. Any tips on what distortion should feel like? I feel like I've built up some good strong compression and I've tried messing with it but it only ever feels like I'm about to cough which is the wrong way to do it. He mentions "leaning into compression in other videos" but I'm not entirely sure what he means.

Edit: I asked on his video but he said to ask in here.


  • ReneaRenea Member, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 23
    I was told to use vocal fry lean in on the sound well that ain't working when I growl my kids I think it's the same thing but the right way but then when I sing I can't do it is there any other exercises that we can do
  • WigsWigs Moderator, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 5,039
    There are 3 main things you need before attempting the safe type of distortion that Ken teaches. You need to have very strong support, good open throat and the ability to really cut back your air through compression.

    If you cannot yet sing a strong resonant sound holding it steady for a length of time or if you are constantly feeling hoarse after you sing, you don't have the proper technique yet and aren't ready.

    When you "lean" into the sound, you are engaging even more of your support while also relaxing more. It's can seem to be a bit of an oxymoron. There is a tiny bit of vocal fry element to it but it's more to do with how the sensation feels and a way to describe it rather than pure fry. You'll be surprised to know that a distorted tone is actually quieter than a pure whole tone of the same note value. Meaning of you sing a clean note, leading into a distorted note, it won't be as loud. Ive seen this my self on the wave lengths during my recordings. There is also a concept of harmonic resonance, the distorted tone is actually a combination of 2, the whole tone and the slight stressing of the cords are 2 sounds being combined.

    The reason you especially need to cut back your air and compress is so that you don't mindlessly blow a bunch of air over your cords to achieve the sound. This will make you hoarse! Distortion is also different from growl, which is again a much more advanced, and not covered in KTVA.
  • ReneaRenea Member, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 23
    I cant take huge breathes but I can hold it and couple songs I've felt that yes I understand what it saying it seems easier to hold the note longer w the open throat. I'm not straining at all I've sang on my broadcasting for up to 6 hours never tired but if I work and think about it to much it's terrible thank u makes sense I check myself w "more than a feeling" everyday to see where I'm at or what to work on!! You all r amazing
  • esequiboesequibo Member Posts: 47
    edited December 2020
    hurts a lot, scratches, pain, like u need to drink water right away or u'll start coughin, then your voice suddenly sounds slighly lower and it stays like that for a day or two, then it recovers....and that's it...? with time it becomes physically easier to produce the sound without engaging the wrong "things" and it stops hurting because of that. like i guess is like when you learn to sing on head voice, it kinda happens and then you naturally do it any time u want...?
    my shortcut to learning distortion would be to scream a lot, like you are a general in the military and you are giving orders.

    there's no safe way for distorting much less to learn how to do it haha, period
  • SkylarSkylar 2.0 ENROLLED Posts: 89
    @gravity84 I haven't gotten to that level yet, however, my understanding is that when done correctly, distortion shouldn't hurt.

    It takes a lot of abdominal strength, but I remember Ken mentioning in a video the way you know you're not doing it right is when you get that tickle in your throat like you need to cough.

    I think he talks about it in this video:

  • WigsWigs Moderator, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 5,039
    @esequibo There is a safe way to distort, its what is taught in the KTVA course.
  • gravity84gravity84 Member Posts: 10
    Thanks everyone. Yeah, there is clearly a safe way to do it. I can definitely get the scratchy feeling which is definitely not the way to do it. I'm looking for some tips like how when you sing in mix you kind of feel the resonance move from chest into your nasal/sinus/forehead area. Just some physical sensations to key that I'm getting in the grit in the right areas.
  • ReneaRenea Member, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 23
    I've faithfully doing the exercises in the videos I seem to learn something everytime I do I dont get sore through. Ive sang for hours in my lives, the open throat makes all the difference in holding the note, resnonense that u talk about hitting notes easier I dont get scratchey voice I think I'm ready to send another demo
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