When it comes to music, there is something special about the recognizable country twang. In the eyes of many people, this is something they are either born with it or not. On the other hand, it may surprise people to hear that some of the most iconic country singers in America music history are actually not from the south! Keith Urban is actually from New Zealand! Learning the art of singing is a skill in it’s own right, so learning how to sing with a country voice should be no different!
This means that they had to develop their country music sound on their own. You can as well! Singing with a country sound is something that can be learned. If you would like to develop this sound, there are a few points that you should keep in mind.
Looking at the Vocal Technique
Often, we think of the country sound as a southern quality that is exhibited by the vast majority of country singers. Even though this is true in a colloquial sense, the country twang is also a vocal technique that can be honed via voice exercises. It actually serves a number of other singers well too.
When you are able to accurately apply a twang to your own voice, this provides you with a brighter, less breathy tone. Furthermore, this also increases the power of your voice without straining your vocal cords. Therefore, this is a powerful singing tool that you should keep in your toolbox, even if you do not want to become a country singer. There is a reason why a lot of rock and roll singers cross over into country music occasionally. They use many of the same skills.
When you produce this sound, the goal is to access a set of membranes and cartilage above the vocal cords. When trying to get your country twang down, the goal is to take that cartilage, warp the shape of the funnel, and produce a twang. This is why country music singers tend to sound clearer, louder, and less breathy.
If you would like to produce a country music sound, there are a few points that you should keep in mind.
How To Develop Your Country Singing Abilities
If you are looking for ways to develop a country music sound in your singing voice, there are a few steps that you need to follow. These include:
Start by Speaking with the Twang
Often, many singers who would like to develop a twang in their voice start by trying to emulate some of their favorite cartoon characters. Therefore, think about some of the characters on TV that sound like they have a twang. For example, a nerdy kid, an auctioneer, a duck, or even someone with a deep southern accent might sound like they have one. Think about trying to emulate these characters to get started on your own sound.
When you are trying to emulate their voices, you need to make sure that you get into character, similar to an actor. Stand in front of a mirror and don’t hold back. Yes, this is going to be weird at first; however, if you sound monotone, nasally, and somewhat compressed at first, you are doing it right. Think about looking up some experts on YouTube as well. This will give you a goal to shoot for, making your country accent more accurate.
Transition Into a Singing Voice
After you have mastered the ability to speak with a country twang, the next step is to transition into the world of singing. Start by singing a song. It doesn’t have to be your favorite song (although some great karaoke songs can keep this process entertaining), simply pick one and try to sing it as if you are one of the characters that you were trying to emulate from the last step. Try to sing incredibly exaggerated. You may have to slow down the song a little bit; however, if you continue to sound like a monotone, country music robot, then you are on the right track.
When you sing with an exaggerated twang, this gets you familiar with how your voice should feel when you are singing with this accent. Similar to learning a musical piece on an instrument, you are developing the muscle memory that is necessary for you to produce your sound on command. It is going to take some practice before you are able to sing the entirety of the song and maintain your voice. After you have gotten a good grasp on what it should feel like in your voice, it is time to record yourself.
Record Yourself Singing
If you thought it took a lot of Courage for you to try to speak in a country voice, it is going to take even more courage for you to record yourself; however, this is necessary in order for you to truly figure out whether or not you have mastered your sound.
You don’t need anything fancy to record yourself. A simple smartphone video recording device will do. Hit the record button and start singing. If you think it is necessary for you to have the track playing in the background, do so; however, try to keep it relatively quiet so you can clearly hear yourself on the video.
Then, play the track back to yourself. You might notice a few surprising aspects of your video when you play it back. For example, many people realize that their voice is not actually as twangy as they thought. Even though you are exaggerating the sound, it isn’t going to sound like your typical country music star. You probably feel like you are pushing your voice in order to generate that twang; however, to sound like a true country music singer, it is going to take some practice to push your voice that far. If you are able to hear the twang on the recording, that’s great! You are off to a good start!
Another common issue that many people notice when they playback their video is that they tend to lose their country voice as the song goes along. This is a very common issue that people encounter when they are first learning this focal scale. Even though you might not realize it, your voice is going to get tired as you continue to sing with this unusual accent. Therefore, your voice is slowly going to slip out of your twang as you continue to sing. This is just a sign that you need more practice. The more you practice this vocal skill, the more in shape your voicebox is going to get. Similar to how people train for a long time before they are able to run a marathon, you need to develop your voice box to be able to maintain your country sound for the duration of a song, let alone a concert.
Consider Trying To Sing in Different Accents
Once you are able to maintain your sound for the duration of an entire song, you may want to try different accents. Some of the most common accents that you might want to try include:
- The Mississippi Accent: Commonly exhibited by Faith Hill, Randy Houser, and Shelly Fairchild
- The Alabama Accent: Listen to Hank Williams Sr., Shenandoah, and Emmylou Harris for this accent
- The Texas Accent: Miranda Lambert, Randy Travis, and George Strait have this accent
You may need to enlist the help of a professional vocal coach or a great singing course in order to spot the differences in these accents; however, it is possible for you to add another layer of complexity to your voice if you are able to master these accents when you sing. This can help you become a true country music singer.
This sort of style of accent development can also help you out with other singing styles, such as learning how to sing punk!
Wrap Up & Final Thoughts
These are a few of the most important stuff that you can follow if you want to develop your sound. Even though this is closely associated with the South, the reality is that just about anyone is able to develop this sound on their own. Even if you do not want to sing country music, having the ability to sing this way can still be a very important tool in your vocal toolbox. Therefore, follow the steps above and see if you can do it!
James is an ex-writer for Music Grotto who focused the majority of his writing on the musical skill development content on the publication. His 20+ year career as a singing and vocal coach provided insightful content for the website, and his continued thirst for development in guitar and piano playing helped create some excellent skill development content for the publication.