To sing soft or strong?

Went to the park late at night with my dog and my guitar. I recorded a new song on my iPhone and a few others and it kind of dawned on me yet again that I sound better when I don’t try so hard, it’s probably because my songs are mostly soft, even though I’d like to be singing with all my effort, sort of like when Kurt Cobain used to get growly or with some of John Frusciante’s stuff.

I just really like that style of singing. Also, love Layne Staley’s tone too, but I don’t have that quality of voice really. So I think I’ll just sing soft like, as it’s usually getting a better result. Yes I’m very much a product of my 1990s sensibilities, can’t seem to shake it. But then again the music I make, isn’t that style at all, I don’t know what it is really.

I guess it’s hard just to let myself be myself were I allow a sense of discovery, because how can I know myself fully, if I’ve lived mostly a constrained version of myself?

Anyway, here’s the recording:

So, I spoke to a friend, Fab who is a professional singer song writer, I’ll add a link to this post later ( He mentioned he liked it but also gave me a few valuable tips. The thing is with this passion of mine, besides being OK with putting it online, that much feels safe and at a distance, playing in front of an audience terrifies me, but it’s something I do want to do sometime.

I’ve tried a couple I times before and had bad and embarrassing experiences with it, like I couldn’t remember the song – I forgot how to play and didn’t remember the lyrics, once I couldn’t hear myself, so I didn’t know what was being heard in the audience. Two attempts and both a failure, so I’ve left it at that. Now it’s years later and I’m still making songs for myself, and after a while I forget most of them and they just disappear into the aether. It kind of seems pointless doing it that way.

So I talked with Fab a little about my fears and how he noticed this came through with the way I sing. He mentioned three things that I’m going to try and do over the next few months:

1. Practice singing all the time. So for this I’ll do it when I’m walking around, probably at night while I walk home.

2. Learn covers. I’ve never really tried that, it was always a bit too exposing in that it makes me feel how limited my guitar playing is, and how I’ve played since I was 16 years old and I haven’t really got much better since about the first 2 years of playing. I’m 36 now.

3. Make a set list of covers and have a couple of originals and find places to play / gig. That’s the big one, freaks me out just thinking about it… But kind of excited by the prospect to, at the same time.

He also talked about the idea of my singing style that I’m holding back, which is something I know, so I mentioned as above that singing with more strength sounds bad with me. And here he raised a good point, that it’s not about singing with strength, “don’t do that” he said, then he was saying its better to sing with my full breath and use my lungs fully.

It didn’t really hit me till now exactly what Fab was trying to tell me, but it makes sense that by using my lungs and whole body, I’d be much more likely to connect fully emotionally and then others hearing me may too. So I guess it’s not about physical or voice strength but emotional strength which is completely different, because in that way it’s the emotion that regulates automatically the strength or softness of voice in line with the music or more like at one with it.

Thanks for the advice, Fab!

4 thoughts on “To sing soft or strong?

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