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What Are R&B Singing Techniques?

Learn R&B singing techniques in this Howcast online singing lesson featuring singer Anya Singleton.


Hi. I'm Anya Singleton, and this is my friend and accompanist Matt Gallagher. We're going to talk about R&B singing techniques.

You can't really, in a short segment, really talk about the whole scope of R&B singing techniques, but what we can do is we can give you an idea of how to approach it. The biggest thing that defines R&B singing is it's behind the beat. When we talk about singing, oftentimes, when you're singing a song like 'Goodnight, My Someone', for example, you would sing it right on the beat. You want to lay back a little in R&B singing; you take more time. With the phrasing, you can use more room to breathe and improvise a little. We're going to do an example, just on humming, just of how you would approach singing an R&B song.

You want to sit a little behind the beat; you want to give it space. As Matt was playing, for example, I didn't come right in at the beginning. I also used the areas where he took a break to come in and fill in a little. You don't have to feel married to one note; you can improvise a little bit. It's really about letting the music breathe. I think that's the key to R&B singing.

Every R&B singer has a very different approach. If you have a gospel background, it's going to be a little bit different than if you have a pop/rock background. If you're a higher voice, if you look at something like Beyonce, she has a higher voice, so her approach is to sing everything in a very high range because she can do it, and she syncopates everything. She's right on top of the . . . behind the beat, but still, it's very pulsing. It's a little bit of a different style than if you were gospel and you were laying into the beat. There's different styles, depending on what kind of an R&B singer you are.

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