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Apart from being a noise that species of animal such as dogs and bears exhibit, growling is a technique employed by people in certain genres of the rock music industry, and normally found in the genre known as heavy metal.
The discovery of growling in rock music
Growling originated because some college kids in a garage during the 1970s were experimenting with their voices to see if they could make scary, inhuman sounds that would go well with their bad guitar playing and produce a truly terrifying overall sound that would strike fear into the hearts of their Elvis loving parents. They were sick of common punk that was around at the time and decided that its popularity proved that it just wasn't quite rebellious enough.
This experimentation led to the discovery that a combination of shouting, burping and generally mangling their vocal chords produced an effect that sounded like something that had been vomited straight out of hell; and not only did it have the desired effect to shock, but it required no musical talent or ability to sing whatsoever. Not only that, but this growling allowed them to reach ridiculously low notes (the ones below the lines on the bass clef) which nobody apart from very manly men with bass (voice)s could reach. Therefore growling had the instant effect of making them appear manlier.
edit Why Growling is so Effective
It is almost always accompanied by very fast drumming and loud discordant guitars which will occasionally quieten so that the growler can be heard growling unintelligible words that sound like;
"GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRRR RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPH BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRR"
Sometimes particularly rebellious types of metal singers such as those in the black metal and death metal categories will include words that are meant to be actually heard as words. These words include:
"HAAAAIILLLL SATTAAAAN" "HEEEEELLLL" "BEEEELLLZEEEEBUUUB" "DIIIIEEEEE" "RAAAAPING BAAABIEESSS" "DEEEEEEMONICCC SAAACRIIFIICCCEE" "NEEEECRRROOOOOOPHIIIILIAAAAA" "HOOOMIIIICIIIIIDE" "MUTIIILLAAATTIINGG VIIIRRGIINNSS" "BLOOOOD RITTTUUAALL" "FUCCCKKK" "RAAAAPIINGGG YOUR GRAAAANDMAAAA" "TRAAAACTOOOOORRR" "SODOOOMMMIIIC RIITTESSSS" "GOOOOOATTTSSS" and the like; although nobody knows why goats are so popular with black metal singers over actual women. It is also a widely known fact that these particularly satanic themed bands came about because as children, the band members were forced to go to church, and this made them particularly angry and rebellious towards the christian religion even though ironically satanism is actually just another sect of the christian church in itself.
Teenage boys, students, fat, tattooed, bearded middle aged men and lesbians are the biggest fans of this style of singing, although it can also be popular with dads when they are drunk or fixing the car.
edit Growling and You
The Factor of Vocal Type
Those who wish to sing metal but were not fortunate enough to be blessed with a bass (voice) must take up the art of growling for their music to be deemed worthy of the title of metal.
It is strongly advisable that the growler ordinarily has a common baritone voice type, so that the growled bass notes actually work out convincingly and it sounds scary/angry enough. Rob Zombie is just one example of a countless legion of growling baritones.
This is because higher ranged vocal types such as tenors and women will all sound like Dani Filth when growling. And if you've ever heard female death metal bands, you will know precisely what I am talking about. All-female death metal bands sound like cradle of filth which instantly makes you question Dani(elle)'s sexuality.
It must also be understood that those with a bass (voice) are naturally able to sing metal like Peter Steele from Type O Negative and Till Lindemann from Rammstein and have no need to growl. If someone with a bass (voice) actually growled, it would be so low that it would be inaudible, and cracks would start to appear in the ground followed by buildings collapsing. It is not unheard of though. Basses in the metal industry (which is where that vocal type is most common) sometimes do it for added effect.
- Please do note that growled notes are not considered a part of your actual vocal range by classical standards, and the accepted rule is that you can usually growl precisely one octave below what you can sing with any credibility.
The factor of age
Older people can growl more easily. This is because old peoples vocal chords already began to disintergrate. Old people growl to talk normally particularly if they smoked all their lives or they used to sing death metal - in fact the act of growling regularly ages and destroys vocal chords so badly that you will talk like a 70 year old when aged 30.
The Factor of Musical Ability
It is advisable that a growler cannot actually sing. This is because those who can actually sing will end up destroying their vocal chords which will result in them no longer being able to sing. Also if a person that can actually sing attempts growling, the result will be something that sounds melodic and not in the slightest bit evil, angry or rebellious.
edit So You Want to Start a Metal Band?
Well that's easy. All you need is a group of people that cannot play instruments or sing, a lot of alcohol and a sense of humor.
Must sound angry, rebellious and unrehearsed. Very loud badly played guitar, very loud very fast badly played drums and growling. The lyrics and costume will determine the type of metal category that you fall under.
Metal bands must learn how to shock their audiences - throwing blood about the stage, sacrificing farm animals, decorating the stage with skulls and candles are just a few ideas to get started. You could carry these ideas really far, but bear in mind that self harm will give you an emo label and attract emo kids to you. Metallers, as a part of normal communication, should also use the word 'fuck' or 'fucking' in every single sentence that they say or growl, at least once, and must act uncivilized.
No metal vocalist is vegetarian for obvious reasons. In fact, the eating of vegetables is known to lower your testosterone levels, and therefore your ability to growl. Eating the brains of dogs and bears that have been killed using the vocalists bare hands is proven to increase the ability to growl, however.
edit Lifestyle of Metal Bands
The life expectancy of metal singers is significantly shorter than singers of other musical genres. This is due to their:
- Diet (see above) which leads inevitably to heart and liver disease
- Tendancy to fight
- Peculiar fascination with fire
- Attraction towards narcotics and ultimate addiction to heroin, crack, amphetamines and blue food coloring
- Driving like they are in a race car although their car is actually as old as they are
- A whole load of other deliberately 'dangerous' activities
Those singers that do not die will end up as enormously obese alcoholics, unable to string a coherent sentance together and shaking. Ozzy Osborne is a good example of a geriatric metaller.