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by admin


I’ve been working almost every weekend and I’ll be travelling again soon.

So, I thought the only way I was gonna keep these videos going the last few weeks was to shoot a few them one after the other on the same day! Hence, the same attire through out the last few Vlogs 😛

This one is for those who would like to sing riffs better but have no idea where to start, or can’t seem to nail it every time 🙂

Vocal riffs are when singers sing a syllable of a word in more than just one pitch. The proper term for it would be melisma, but some also call it Vocal Runs. I know, how many terms are there?!

I appreciate both singing with and without riffs – I think exploring singing with both gives a singer more options to play with when doing his/her own interpretation of a song. It always allows a singer more flexibility to sing across various music genres, as some genres require less melisma, while others require more (R&B, Soul & etc).

Just to make it clear what singing with or without riffs are like, I’ve included in the video a demonstration of singing with and without, to the same song. Check it out 😉

If you’re keen to sing riffs better already, here’s how we get started.

Step 1: Determine The Notes In The Riff

It’s important to identify what notes (pitches) you’ll be singing in that riff. Most of the time melisma’s or vocal riffs can sound pitchy (off pitch) or messy when singers are unsure or simply can’t make the notes distinct enough for their listeners. This usually happens when a singer hasn’t breakdown for certain what notes they’ll be singing, and also the order of those notes that are to be included in his/her vocal riff. In the video, I’ve used a keyboard to show what it’s like to identify the notes or breakdown a vocal riff, but really, a keyboard isn’t necessary. You can also figure it out simply just by using your voice. It’ll be worthwhile to run through those notes a couple of times with your voice – sing it through over and over again, just so you remember how to “play” those notes with your musical instrument (your voice). This also helps you remember where to place those notes in your vocal registers so that you can hit them more accurately even if you decide to speed up the riff.


Step 2: Determine The Tempo Of The Riff

Once you’ve sorted out what notes you’ll be singing in your vocal riff, it’s time to determine what the tempo (timing, punctuation & etc) of those notes are going to be like. You can do these a couple of ways: by clapping or tapping it out, or playing it out on a keyboard, or simply by singing it out – this time making sure that you make the tempo distinct as per how you would like that vocal riff to be, instead of just focusing on the notes 🙂 Knowing which parts to punch more (increase in volume or to use staccato) and also which parts to drag out (legato) helps, and this is done by running through the riff repeatedly, while paying careful attention to the tempo of which you’re using.


Step 3: Practice With “Ng” or “Mm” To Increase Flexibility

If vocal flexibility is an issue (you can’t seem to sing through the vocal riffs smoothly even though you’ve determine the pitch and the tempo of the riff), practising the riff in “Ng” or “Mm” first, over and over is gonna help. This helps us practice better vocal cord closure, where the lack thereof is usually the cause for vocal inflexibility, besides the wrong use of vocal register. By running through the riffs a couple of times with “Ng” or “Mm”, we’ll be practising how to sing that riff from a more comfortable position where the voice doesn’t feel like it’s gonna crack or break at a anytime through the vocal riff.

Try these steps out and if you’d like, you can drop me a video of yourself doing a vocal riff that you might be struggling with. But of course, I’d also need the original video/audio of the vocal riff you’re attempting.

That said, have fun trying out your riffs and pop your questions below, if any.

Have a good week ahead! 😀

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3 Quick Ways To Singing Riffs Better