Whenever I explore singing forums, I stumble across someone who has asked the question, “how can I discover my own personal style?” Most respondents answer the same way: don’t every try to emulate other people. Don’t listen to other artists excessively. Just sing from your heart. The truth is, you don’t have to be tied to ONE personal style for the rest of your life. It’s okay to experiment with sounding like other artists. Your unique voice is a combination of your unique vocal tract resonance, but also the techniques you choose to learn and employ.
A great way to start doing is to start listening. Actively listen to music to get a feeling for what artists do with their voices to nuance their performances. Try to pick out where someone flips into falsetto, or adds a little bit of vocal fry for effect. And don’t be afraid to try experimenting, as long as your throat doesn’t start hurting.
Here’s a place to get started. It’s our pick of pure vocal tracks (no instrumentals) for you to browse, internalize, and derive inspiration. Listening to isolated vocals sans makes it easier to hear all the little details in these artists’ voices. Enjoy and experiment!
‘Medley’ from Abbey Road | The Beatles
Just in this one medley alone, there are so many different sounds and styles. Masterful.
‘Wouldn’t it be Nice’ | Beach Boys
A fantastic example of more compressed falsetto. It’s a salient, blendable, beautiful sound.
‘I Heard it through the Grapevine’ | Marvin Gaye
This is actually just a performance of Marvin Gaye singing this track A capella. His pitch accuracy and passion need no explanation.
‘Somebody to Love’ | Queen
You might be surprised to hear how airy Mercury makes his voice at the beginning. Then, listen to how much grit he puts into the climactic sections.
‘Rolling in the Deep’ | Adele
Adele’s a master of vowel modifications. Try to listen to how she pronounces her words to give her increased power in her voice.
‘Landslide’ | Stevie Nicks
Stevie Nicks has one of those unique ‘love it or hate it’ voices. Regardless, she’s hailed as one of the more influential folk vocalists of her time. You have to respect how raw her voice sounds in this rendition of ‘Landslide.’
‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ | Nirvana
Another controversial member of this list. Kurt Cobain set a precedence for alt-rock vocals for decades. If you’re going to emulate this, please, please go easy on your voice.