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  1. #1
    Baluchitherium
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    Default Dave's Screams/Vocal Techniques/How to

    Often less talked about than DLR's stage presence and personality, Dave's vocals were a major part of the classic Van Halen sound. DLR's rock god like screams, yelps and banshee cries were just as recognizable and an integral part of Van Halen as Ed's tapping, pinch harmonics, and melodic/rhythmic playing. Both were very unique and in a sense never truly heard b4 in the rock world. It helped set VH apart from the rest and defined their classic sound/arsenal.

    This thread is meant to discuss the vocal techniques used by David Lee Roth and how to obtain these unorthodox vocal sounds.

    *(side point)What got me stared with this thread idea was a discussion with the female singer in my cover band about these techniques. Pretty much a mystery to both of us as neither of us can do it. I've heard them called a "train whistle" "throat singing" and "double octave screams"(as you can clearly hear two vocal pitches coming out at once). It's said singers like Mariah Carey or James Brown used this technique within their own style. Still never have I seen a definitive how to on how to do it properly. I took to searching the net for answers. Really this has been a 30 year old question of mine. As a young guitar student and VH fan who later became a professional musician Dave's screams were always something I loved and had hoped a singer I worked with someday etc would be able to do. Never found or heard anyone local that was even close with it despite playing with talented singers who wanted and tried to do it. I've seen the explosion of power rock singers rise in the 80's but even the most impressive were more in the realm of a Rob Halford or Robert Plant. Huge powerful voices who belted the high registers with either a broad ranged full voice or powerful falsetto. Despite hearing similar DLR type screams/yelps from soul and funk singers, where was it in rock beyond Dave? It seemed to be unique to him(at least the severity in which he developed it) and a closely guarded secret by those who could come close to it. Information on it being more mysterious and rare it seems than Ed's tapping technique was in the late 70's.

    Now with the net you can find some that do it well. A few singers who are in or have been in VH tribute bands are an example but it still seems to be a technique known by few and mastered by even fewer.

    I hope people out there with first hand experience with achieving these sounds will reply personally with info, tips, and sound clips.


    Also would be great if any old quotes or interviews with Dave talking about it could be posted.
    ?Did he stumble upon it in his youth and developed it?
    ?Did he happen on it trying to mimic someone?
    ?Was he taught the technique and he was just gifted in that sense to be able to take it to the level he had?
    ?Has age, smoking, years of rock singing robbed him from the ability or is it something he hasn't maintained?


    I'd like to gather tips and info on this topic. I'll start in my next post with some initial stuff I've found that sheds a little light on it.

  2. #2
    Baluchitherium
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    I found a vocal forum where not only is this discussed with tips listed but videos as well that backup their proficiency with it.
    There isn't much out there on it that I have found so far but I'm not done looking for info.
    http://voicecouncil.com/forum/topic/...roths-screams/

    Here are the main posts about it... thoughts and tips on it by a singer in a band(Motel The Band) that can nail it. Not only can he do these DLR screams he's obviously a big DLR fan as well as his vocal style seems to be paying major homage to Dave. Sounds almost exactly like him but again the emphasis here is on the vocal techniques which produce the unique sounds Dave is/was known for.


    -----------------------
    From:Hotwheel
    Guys i know its an old thread but its very interesting
    im a singer on a rock band and i know EXACTLY how to do this
    and i can do other screams as well,not one of this screams makes damage
    to your chords because its not the actual voice its more like a whistle
    you produce with air,its air going thru your cords.-

    Here there are some links to a couple videos of mine to see what im talkin about
    and ...btw all of this are exhaling !

    I do little squeaks like James brown here but you can hear
    a true DLR scream about 1:14
    and ...in the solo i mimic the guitar with super high tones at 1:55


    This are not studio tricks !
    Check some live tracks mixed on one video : 00:27 and 1:36 for a long one


    Here there is a last one ...with a high more raspy scream at the end


    Btw ...you should look for David Ruffin,he did LOTS of this
    Wilson Pickett too !
    i can pull off some of Janis Joplin and James brown stuff as well

    Feel free to ask me any questions
    ---------------------------
    From:Hotwheel
    Check this nice DLR TRACK 1:19 and 1:38 ...just brilliant !

    ---------------------------
    From:Hotwheel
    Hi Curtis,i know the exact way you have to start doing it
    You have to scream with no voice,try that
    just push air,scream hard but do not use the voice
    then you will feel air pushing thru it and will hear maybe a little little whisper
    you have to make that grow,and that "hole" will get used to that air passing by ,allowing you to "whistle" it requires practice,i started back in 1996 and i was trying that for a year until i got it !!!
    and i found a second whistle (train whistle) which Roth does now because he has his "classic higher whistle" blocked maybe because he smokes.
    You will need to do what i say,try to scream hard but not using your voice
    its there its hidden,everybody can do it,it just requires practice
    Bon Jovi did that scream too,he did both "classic" and "Train"
    You can hear the train in "I'll be there for you" and "Blaze of glory"

    Blaze of glory : Check 3:40


    I'll be there for you : Check 3:48



    Bad Medicine Check : 1:08 - 2:48 for little screamies



    Lay your hands on me Check : Im sure he ripped roth on this little scream at the end of the phrase 3:24



    ------------------------
    From:Hotwheel
    Both Vocal Master tracks

    http://www.mediafire.com/file/ykmnfi33uml/actionman.mp3

    http://www.mediafire.com/file/jyaynowmglg/sweet.mp3
    --------------------------
    From:Hotwheel
    BTW ....Axl did make a DLR kinda scream,Welcome to the Jungle,studio version
    the opening scream its not his voice,its the whistle.
    When i say scream hard but dont use the voice ...just try to pass air
    and you will find a "little scream behind" its a tiny very tiny whistle
    practice and more practice can make that "hole" bigger and you will learn
    to whistle with your voice,the WTTJ scream its not the voice its air passing like that and doing the whistle,now for whatever reason AXL doesnt have it anymore
    and he uses the voice to do this scream and you will notice how different does it sound :

    Please compare :
    Studio version :
    00:12 ..."the whistle"


    Back in 1988,you can actually hear his real voice (low tone) mixing with the
    whistle : 1:00 to 1:19


    He pulled it of here 1988 because it wasnt tired : 0:15


    1992 : He lost it : 4:05 to 4:17 very tired...
    he was trying hard to do the whistle...but it wasnt there,it was "blocked"


    2002-present ...he uses his voice : 0:53 ...its his voice !!!

    -----------------------------
    From:Yomaster
    Hotwheel is definitely correct. And after looking at his links!! I see it's Sammy my friend. Thats hilarious. I stumbled upon this thread. I'd like to show you how to do all the Roth screams. I'm a trained singer, have a music performance degree. I sing everything from pop to metal to opera. For many years I have been totally fascinated with Dave's technique. And it's funny, I have met a lot of opera singers that thought it was so cool. I learned how to do the screams from a lot of careful listening and I got some advice from a friend named Sammy/hotwheel who lives in south america who could do the whistle scream very well. He could tell I had the technique down but helped me to improve it. I use to be very protective about this info but I'm at the point where I want to share it to anyone who is interested.

    First off. You are all right smile Because Dave has 4 different screams.

    1. The inhale/suck in scream - He started to do this later in the 90's because he got lazy and was not working on the whistle scream.

    2. The falsetto scream. He uses this often and is so good at it, that it can sometimes be mistaken for the classic scream. This is one is used a lot on runnin with the Devil. He has this technique down to a science and can smoothly transition from singing a note to going into the scream. It sounds seemless so it's very confusing to the listener. It often has a bit of a raspy quality to it as well.

    3. The one that sounds like a train whistle. A good example is the scream on the song A little ain't enough. He screams out "Baby please" like Baby...PLLLLEEEEEEEEEAAAESE!!

    4. The classic scream or whistle voice. He does this scream on every VH album but a great example is Van Halen 2. He did it like crazy on this record. Outta love, somebody get me a doctor, your no good. These are all great examples. You definitely hear two pitches. This scream is like lifting weights. You have to practice it on a regular basis or you will lose the ability all together or it will become weak sounding. You have to huff air, blow air really hard over the chords. You aren't singing, you aren't yelling. Just pushing air, and it creates the sound. It takes a lot of work to do it consistently. The technique is similar to the way you hear old men do a raspy laugh. The more you practice it, the more power you will get and also you will be able to hold pitches for longer lengths. Geting good at it..is not easy to do at all and takes a lot of hard work. It also takes some time to be able to control the pitch. It feels nothing like singing. There are female singers such as Mariah Carey that use the technique. It sounds quite different when a female does it. Bon Jovi does it a bit. There are a few other guys. Dave mastered it though. If you listen to Easy Street on his album "crazy from the heat" At the end of the song there is a sax solo with Dave screaming in the background. It's totally insane. Some of his best ever.

    I can explain all these screams in detail and will record an mp3 for you. If anyone has any interest. I know this is an old old thread.

    I just joined a new rock cover band recently and we are performing running with the devil. I am pretty excited about it.

    Last edited by yomaster (2011-06-13 06:18:27)
    Last edited by At0micPunk; 07.15.11 at 08:46 PM.

  3. #3
    Atomic Punk LLFHS's Avatar
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    Hard to believe what Dave did can be taught. Seriously.

    May as well teach what Plant did. Daltrey.
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  4. #4
    Baluchitherium
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    Quote Originally Posted by LLFHS View Post
    Hard to believe what Dave did can be taught. Seriously.

    May as well teach what Plant did. Daltrey.
    I'm very serious about this.

    You can't give someone natural aptitude or gifted genetics which result in an extraordinary singing voice. You can however learn how to sing and use your voice properly. Which in a way does help teach what Plant and Daltrey did or in the least help a singer reach their full potential.

    Also these techniques Dave used isn't common knowledge to everyone but there is a technique behind it. The guy above who posted his vids said he worked on it for a year before he could even begin to do it...and worked hard on it to take it to where he has it now. Another professional singer chimed in saying he had a loose grasp on it but the guy in the vids actually helped him hone and improve it. They learned it and worked hard on it.

    I am not suggesting everyone can do it easily. Thats obviously not the case. lol It's likely much more obtainable for serious singers/pro singers as opposed to people who simply sing for fun/hobby sometimes. Seems like a difficult and tricky technique to master and who knows what physical characteristics in your throat allow this to be better than someone else. Dave seemed to be one of very few in the rock realm that could really exploit it to it's limits at will in his prime. That level of aptitude may not be able to be taught. Still imo it's a topic/technique not much is known about and I'd love for some pro singers who can use these techniques to chime in and give some tips, advice etc.

  5. #5
    Atomic Punk Little Dreamer's Avatar
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    I think interest never built for these coz Dave only used these techniques on VHI and VHII, with maybe a few instances on WACF, if that. He abandoned these techniques early on, and also was never consistent live when reproducing them. He kind of self-sabotaged himself as far being a great singer goes. He preferred to go the "toastmaster general" route.
    Last edited by Little Dreamer; 07.16.11 at 03:19 AM.
    Little Dreamer

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    Atomic Punk bsbll4's Avatar
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    This thread is awesome...I always wondered how that was done. Now I know I will never be able to do it

    It seemed like Dave had the ability to do it a little bit on the last tour but it was inconsistent and more raspy/throaty than it used to be...likely from years of abuse.
    CNN may think my opinion matters, but you shouldn't.

  7. #7
    Baluchitherium
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Dreamer View Post
    I think interest never built for these coz Dave only used these techniques on VHI and VHII, with maybe a few instances on WACF, if that. He abandoned these techniques early on, and also was never consistent live when reproducing them. He kind of self-sabotaged himself as far being a great singer goes. He preferred to go the "toastmaster general" route.
    This is totally inaccurate. DLR clearly used this technique well all the way up to
    the ALAE album. Some of his best was on his EP and on EEAS.
    This is longer than a 10 year run and only during the ALAE album and beyond
    did this technique start to diminish for whatever reason. Your opinion
    on Dave as a singer is not surprising but is irrelevant in this thread. He clearly
    used this technique in ways rarely heard on over 9 albums and tours.
    It is even heard on boots b4 VH recorded VH 1. The question is how is it done. Though Dave is a unique talent there is a technique
    behind these screams and vocal sounds and that is what I'd like people to
    explore and give insight on here.

    Posted from mobile device.

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  9. #8
    Baluchitherium
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsbll4 View Post
    This thread is awesome...I always wondered how that was done. Now I know I will never be able to do it

    It seemed like Dave had the ability to do it a little bit on the last tour but it was inconsistent and more raspy/throaty than it used to be...likely from years of abuse.
    Yeah man I hope we get some more good info on it here. I'll post whatever else I can find.
    I know a lot of talented pro singers that dig this but could never do it. I'm sure a lot of people out there
    would love specific instruction on how to train your voice to do it.
    I'm sure some will be more successful than others but first you gotta
    know how it's done. I think the info in my second post here is a good start with
    some helpful info.

    Posted from mobile device.

  10. #9
    Atomic Punk Dave's Dreidel's Avatar
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    I've tried to do the "inhale scream" as described before, I thought most of his screams were done that way but I was obviously incorrect. But anyway, I think my lung dropped out of my ass when I tried it, no wonder he lost his voice for a while!
    Taylor Swift is nice to look at. Adele can sing.

    Emperor Brett - "I can't believe you guys are analyzing song-by-song Van Halen III? What next, analyzing the script of Stroker Ace looking for some shred of Citizen Kane?"

    David Lee Roth did the impossible. He made Van Halen better. Deal with it!

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    Eruption donkost's Avatar
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    Great thread AP! I think you posted something along these lines a few years ago as part of another thread. I've always found these vocal techniques interesting and almost like Ed's playing, when you hear it you know who it is. My thought in Dave's case is that he probably did not learn or practice these techniques, they are just something he found he could do and build upon for different sounds. Here we have another vocalist who has probably been a regular smoker (anyone know this for certain?), and I have to wonder why these guys just don't get it. All those years of cigarette smoke passing through there can't be good for the vocal cords or lung capacity in general. The flip side to this is that we are talking rock and roll here- smoke, drink, screw everything in sight, burn out, die young, no one expected to be performing these songs 30 years later. Dave seems in excellent shape otherwise, using whatever techniques such as martial arts, yoga (not sure) to stay in shape.

    These unique vocal effects were certainly missed in a few songs during the '07/'08 tour. Could have really used them in SGMAD, and even the yell near the end of EWS. His "wow"/scream in ITO was actually pretty decent live. He had to have worked with a vocal coach prior to the tour since this typically goes downhill with age and he sounded better than he had sounded in decades perhaps. I've also read that vocalists can employ steroids to keep their voice strong on a long tour. I'm hoping that if it fits the song that he uses some of these vocal tricks at least on the studio album. Yes "back in the day" he used to skip lyrics as part of his live schtick, but there were also times when he squeaked by on certain high notes or sang them in a lower key. He was hitting those high notes for the most part in '07/'08. I mean, watch the guy during I'll Wait- he would make sure his in-ear monitor was inserted firmly so he could really concentrate on his singing. I didn't hear any problems with LG either and it was suggested that the song was dropped after the break since he had problems hitting the notes.

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    Open up, shout it out...

    Wow, interesting topic. I had always thought people could do this

    What I would say to begin with, is to understand the voice itself- this would help build a foundation of technique. First, I believe one should understand how the voice works: The human body naturally begins life with proper breathing (singing) technique when born. An example would be a crying baby, if you have ever seen it, every sound pushes forward, out from the diaphragm/lungs. Kind of like blowing out a breath from your mouth or a burp. Crying babies sometimes pass out from this because they don't breath in (crazy if you have ever witnessed this- scary as shit the first time). An example would be like breathing heavy after running, clearing your throat, a cough, or coughing up phlegm (people lose their voice when sick from coughing frequently from the force upon the vocal cords). As most humans grow and begin to talk this forward breath is lost and speech begins to come from the vocal cords without the forward breath. An example would be, if one would breathe out all his/her breath, he/she still can speak and most people speak this way but not without blowing out their breath first. A deep voice is, in reality, loose vocal cords. My point is, the body knows how to do it and it will remember (just like breathing liquid oxygen). Next, what I did, and would suggest, is to watch video of how the vocal cords work- the actual vocal cords in action, you should be able to find endoscopic camera clips of this somewhere. If not, go to a doctor and see your own. Then if you want to start understanding how Dave does his, listen to him, i'm not talking about listening to him sing- listen to him breathing and effort applied to producing the sound- on every CD (I haven't listened in years, but if I remember correctly, Yankee Rose may be a good example). Also a common misunderstanding is that to create a deeper voice they need to put their chin down to their chest, and a higher voice by tilting their head up... its the opposite.

    on another note, IMO, in todays music most of the screams are kinda insignificant and kind of embarrassing when playing to a mature or younger audience. Was great in the late 70's to late 80's. The beginning of Panama, Everybody Wants Some, and similar to that still would warrant the screams, however, at the end of Runnin' With The Devil would not.

    Im just a kid (20 yrs old) so what do I know, just my 2 cents worth...

    Last edited by Magic W. Meanstreet; 07.16.11 at 01:50 PM.

  13. #12
    Eruption VHwasCoolestWithDLR's Avatar
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    It sounds kinda painful, doesnt it?

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    Baluchitherium
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic W. Meanstreet View Post
    *snip*
    on another note, IMO, in todays music most of the screams are kinda insignificant and kind of embarrassing when playing to a mature or younger audience. Was great in the late 70's to late 80's. The beginning of Panama, Everybody Wants Some, and similar to that still would warrant the screams, however, at the end of Runnin' With The Devil would not.

    Im just a kid (20 yrs old) so what do I know, just my 2 cents worth...
    Respectfully I appreciate your intentions but you didn't say much beyond
    "just yell it out" and "screams in today's music are embarrassing".

    There is a trick to this. Getting down the basics of how to attempt it is
    the point. I expect it will take time to find more first hand advice and info.

    Your vocal chord medical descriptions didn't say anything helpful
    it was more like someone just rambling around a question asked
    without knowing an answer or any pertinent info. Singers know how their vocal chords and breathing work.
    Not as many know how to rip out a double octave type scream which requires
    a different approach than traditional singing. Some do it, yes. In many genres
    of music. Noone as insanely in rock as DLR did in his prime. Still it seems to be a rare skill and finding info on how to attempt it is thin.

    There must be a semi official title
    for the these types of vocal acrobatics and true experienced and professional advice
    on doing it. Finding that info is my quest with this.

    Posted from mobile device.
    Last edited by At0micPunk; 07.17.11 at 10:31 AM.

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    I think my sister can do this when speaking. We always called it "split vocals" - it sounds like 2 voices speaking simultaneously at a slightly different pitch. Is that the kind of thing you're getting at, AP? I'm not sure if she has ever attempted it when singing. I will ask her how she does it and if she can apply it to singing / screaming and get back to you.
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