Grunge Vocal Effects for Audacity

By Randolph Driblette
The grunge aesthetic included raggedy clothes, tattoos and asymmetrical, shaggy hair styles.

Grunge music hit its peak in the 1990s, with bands such as Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Mudhoney and Pearl Jam entering the national mainstream, according to Allmusic. Grunge is characterized by loud, distorted and fuzzy guitars, pounding drums and half-singing, half-screaming vocals epitomized by Kurt Cobain's growling yelps. You can use the free music recording software Audacity to recreate the grunge vocal sound.

Normalize

Apply the normalize effect in Audacity to any type of audio track to bring the track up to the loudest possible volume without clipping or distorting. This is useful for singers who perform quietly or to boost the volume of the vocals to match the often loud levels of guitar in grunge music.

Reverb

Reverb is an effect that replicates the sound of differently sized rooms and wall reflections, giving the track the sense that it was performed in anywhere from a small bedroom to a cavern full of echoes, according to Audacity. Typically in grunge music, you will use a moderate amount of reverb to thicken the vocal sound and create presence.

Noise Removal

Noise removal cleans up any clipping or distortion already present on a track after recording. This is likely to occur when recording grunge music, because singers often use a wide dynamic range from soft singing to loud screaming, according to Sound on Sound. While a dynamic performance is important, it is mic clipping is not a desirable type of distortion, being harsh and unmusical.

Gain

The gain control not only increases the volume of your track, but can be used to put a slight musical distortion on the grunge vocal track, similar to the distortion or overdrive pedals used on grunge guitar tracks. While too much distortion can obscure the lyrics and melody of the vocal track, a moderate amount can give it intensity.

Exotic Effects

Other more unique and strange effects on Audacity, including flanger, reverse, and wah wah can be used on grunge vocal tracks to lend a special characteristic to the sound. In the case of the wah wah effect, this will provide an oscillation between high and low frequency sounds in the vocal track that creates a rhythmic, pulsating sound.

About the Author

Randolph Driblette has been writing professionally since 2007. He has contributed to organizations such as the "North Wind" newspaper, Sky Vision Enterprises and his university writing center. Randolph received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Northern Michigan University.