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Have you ever struggled singing faster paced songs in tempo and with attitude?

If you’ve always found yourself singing groovier songs only to sound anything but groovy, you’re not alone.

While many singers may have successfully increased their vocal ranges wide enough to give them the vocal flexibility to take on any (or most) songs, many still struggle to sing songs with swag convincingly. Why? Because singing with swag boils down to adding “feels” to a song through variations of phrasing, dynamics, punctuation, tempo, improvisations & etc.

As you can see, it’ll take more than 5 minutes to cover all of these. Which is why, today we’ll only focus on singing with swag from the aspect of punctuation 😉

Let’s use Gnarl’s Barkley’s “Crazy” as an example.

Check out the first way I sang it in the video – that is an example of singing without swag. Singing like that not only kills the song (in a bad way), but it also lacks character and does not inspire confidence in a singer because it’s so easy to run out of tempo at any time.

The Key: Punctuation

To give the song the groove it deserves, and to add attitude to the singing and making sure that you stay in tempo, there is one thing we can work on for a start. Yup, you guessed it – punctuation.

Determine The Parts You Wanna ‘Punch’

To add punctuation to a song simply means to give certain parts a little more of punch (accent/emphasis). The punch can be delivered with an increase of volume and attack. Most groovy/funky/fast-paced songs have punctuations and when we pay attention to where these punctuations are added and follow them, you’ll find that it’ll be far easier to keep in tempo and give the song the groovy feel it deserves.

Clap or ‘Da’ The ‘Punches’

Once you determine the parts that should have more ‘punch’, it’s time to clap out the feel of these punches. Alternatively, you can scat it out with “da” for now. Watch the video to get a better idea on how to do this. If you’re not familiar with the song I used as an example, it’s best you have a listen to the original first. Click here to listen to the original.

By clapping out or “da-ing” the feel of these punches, we get ourselves use to not only the rhythm of the song, but also the accents we’re gonna add to certain parts of the song as we sing it. When we do get use to feeling the song in this way, musically, it would translate quite naturally as we deliver it in lyrical form.

You’ll notice that punctuation is not only used in faster parts of the song, but even in the slower (or more “stretched-out”) parts of the song, like the chorus. By adding the punches, we can even do the vocal riffs better, as not all notes in a vocal riff is sung with equal emphasis. Some are punched with a little more volume, attack and hold, before we trickle to the other parts of the vocal riff. For example, the second time we sing “Cray zeh eh eh eh eh…”. The parts in bold are punched and sustained more than the rest of the word.

This will take some practice, but in time, as we add more punctuation into the singing, it’ll definitely help you sing with more swag, keep in tempo no matter how complicated the groove of a song may be, and even help you scat better in future.

We’ll talk about other ways to add swag into singing another day 😉


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How To Sing With More Swag