An overview

Overdrive is a full-metallic mode. Its character is often direct, loud, and shouted, like when you call ‘hey’ after someone in the street. Overdrive is a mode with a non-breathy sound. When starting out, Overdrive can be found by establishing a ‘bite’.

Cathrine have chosen the name Overdrive because she finds it descriptive of the pushy, aggressive sound which can be obtained in this mode. Her inspiration for the name is from the overdrive that can be found in guitar pedals and from the fifth gear in sports cars (i.e. overdrive gear).

In terms of pitch, Overdrive is the only limited mode. It is especially limited for women. The upper limit for women is D5-Eb5 and for men C5. There is no lower limit.

In Overdrive you can only use the vowels ‘EH’ (as in ‘stay’) and ‘OH’ (as in ‘so’).

Singers who often sing or sang in Overdrive

Joan Armatrading, Patti Austin, Anita Baker, LaVern Baker, Shirley Bassey, Bono (U2), La Voix Mystere Bulgare, Johnny Cash, Mama Cass, Tracy Chapman, Cher, Patsy Cline, Leonard Cohen, David Coverdale, Roger Daltrey (The Who), Ray Davies (The Kinks), Sammy Davis Jr, Marlene Dietrich, Ronnie James Dio, Vaya Con Dios, Celine Dion, Melissa Etheridge, Aretha Franklin, Marie Fredriksen (Roxette), Judy Garland, Lowell George (Little Feat), Juliette Greco, Corey Glover (Living Colour), Buddy Guy, Gypsy Kings, Emmylou Harris, James Hetfield (Metallica), Jennifer Holiday, Noddy Holder (Slade), Buddy Holly, John Lee Hooker, Whitney Houston, Michael Hutchence (INXS), Julio Iglesias, Mahalia Jackson, Mick Jagger, Etta James, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joel, Olivia Newton John, Tom Jones, Jon Bon Jovi, BB King, Om Kalsoum, Gladys Knight, Leadbelly, Huey Lewis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Vera Lynn, Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy), Miriam Makeba, Bob Marley, Gisela May, Freddie Mercury, George Michael, Liza Minelli, Jim Morrison, Van Morrison, Paul McCartney, Youssou N’Dour, Edith Piaf, Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, Paul Simon, Otis Redding, Brad Roberts (Crash Test Dummies), Frank Sinatra, Bessie Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), Dionne Warwick, Muddy Waters, and Tammy Wynette.
Male classical singers use Overdrive when they sing loudly.

With a light sound colour: Chuck Berry, Jack Bruce, Woodie Guthrie, Billie Holiday, Ice-T, Grace Jones, Al Jarreau, Eartha Kitt, Brenda Lee, Loretta Lynn, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, Ozzy Osborne, Dolly Parton, Lou Reed, Axl Rose (Guns ‘n’ Roses), Diana Ross, Gino Vanelli, Lolly Vegas (Redbone), and Hank Williams.

With a dark sound colour in the low part of the voice: Zarah Leander, Sarah Vaughan, and some female classical singers when they sing in the low part of the voice in powerful volume, such as Maria Callas.


 #97 (Female)


Condition for Overdrive



Pitch in Overdrive

Experienced men can sing up to their High C (i.e. C5) in Overdrive. The highest note women can sing in Overdrive is D5-Eb5. It goes for both men and women that the higher the pitch, the more distinct the mode becomes. The volume becomes more powerful, the sound has a more distinct shouting quality and the vowels have to be altered to ‘EH’ (as in ‘stay’) and ‘OH’ (as in ‘so’).

There is no limit to how low pitch you can sing in Overdrive.


Vowels in Overdrive

In Overdrive only the vowels ‘EH’ (as in ‘stay’) and ‘OH’ (as in ‘so’) can be used.
Hence, ‘EE’, ‘I’, and ‘A’ are altered to ‘EH’. For example ‘Hey baby’ is altered to ‘H-EH, b-EH-b-EH’.


 #110 (Female)


 #111 (Female)

‘OO’, ‘O’, ‘OR’, and ‘AH’ are altered to ‘OH’. For example ‘I love you’ is altered to ‘OH-i l-OH-ve y-OH’.


Volumes in Overdrive

Generally speaking, Overdrive is a mode with a powerful volume, extending from medium loud (‘mf’ or ‘mezzo forte’) to very loud (‘ff’ or ‘fortissimo’). The volume can be varied more easily in the lower part of the voice, as you usually can sing Overdrive more quietly in the lower than in the higher part of the voice. The higher the pitch, the louder the volume required for this mode. Singers are different, and some are able to sing less loudly in Overdrive.


Sound colours in Overdrive

Overdrive may be coloured in different directions. More easily and safer in the lighter and more twanged direction. It is also possible to colour Overdrive in a darker and richer way, but this requires competence in the overall principles for singing and sufficient familiarity with the healthy limits within the voice.


Overdrive in classical singing

Men often use Overdrive in classical singing, usually up to A4-Bb4, when the volume must be loud and penetrating.


 #119 (Male)


Women only use Overdrive in classical singing when singing in the low part of the voice when the volume has to be very loud (such as Maria Callas).

 #119 (Female)