A growl is like distortion, i.e. it is a ‘noise’. It is an effect that can contain several different expressions from devotion to aggression. Growl is often used in traditional jazz, r ‘n b and gospel. Growl often sounds like a coarser variation of distortion.
Growl can be used in all modes and is therefore subject to the same advantages and limitations as the modes in terms of pitch, volumes, sound colours and vowels.
The choice of mode determine the character of the growl.
It is possible to decide the amount of growl you want to add to a mode
Growl can be used alone or together with other effects, often distortion, tuva and rattle.
Growl takes place at the level of the arytenoid cartilages/cuneiform, i.e. at Level 3 (see ’Various levels of the vocal tract’). In growl the epiglottis tilts backwards and almost covers the vocal cords. This creates the hollow and dark ‘covered’ sound of the growl. The arytenoids vibrate against the epiglottis which produces the rolling sound. Together this is the growl.
Like all other effects, growls must be produced with great accuracy to avoid misuse of the voice.
Singers who use or used growl
Louis Armstrong, LaVern Baker, James Brown, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, John Kay (Steppenwolf), David Lee Roth, Sly Stone, Yma Sumac, Tom Waits, Johnny Winter and Stevie Wonder.