What do Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Jessie J and Tori Kelly have in common? They all use vocal riffs as a part of their artistic signature. Actually, there are countless artists currently using riffs and runs to enhance their vocal performance. How can you take full advantage of this stylistic effect? Good question…let’s find out.
With a name like ‘Riffs and Runs’ you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s a relatively new phenomenon. Well, actually it isn’t. You see riffing and running has been around in one form or another for centuries. In Western music we date melismatic singing back as far as the Gregorian chant. Melismatic singing, or as we contemporary singers call it, riffing and running, is singing multiple notes one a single vowel or syllable.
The technical requirements for riffing and running well are summed up in one word: agility. Your voice needs to be free and agile. A tight constricted larynx will struggle to move smoothly and accurately through the notes. In turn this means that your breath flow needs to be consistent with an even pressure.
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