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The History of Screaming in Music... who was the first to make it mainstream?


Mayalily
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The history of screaming in music (think heavy metal).

I am wanting to do some research on this subject of screaming in music and how it all started (again, think heavy metal), but did it start with heavy metal?  No, of course, it didn't.

My first thought was that perhaps The Who started the screaming type of singing in music for it to become a mainstay for a lot of 20th Century music. 

My rl bf said he thinks it may have started with Little Richard on the mainstream popular end.

Any clues to this "folklore" as to who (no pun intended) was the first to make a hit with screaming in songs?  Could it be Little Richard who had the first hit?  Anyone have any idea?  I just read the wiki and it has some interesting info on screaming in music, but I'm curious about who was the first to make it popular on hit radio?  

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If you are using heavy metal as your 'definition' of screaming, then I do not think Little Richard would match those decibels.   If you are broading your definition, then perhaps he does.  Maybe Elvis, too?  Beatles were later but they also screamed.  One of the biggest current screamers would be lead vocalist for Killswitch Engage, Howard Jones.  Listen to 'My Curse'.  If that does not get your 'agony' meter going, I do not know what will.

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Yes, I just listened to some Little Richard on Youtube and it sounds like he is doing more of a low scream wooooooooo sound, like the early Beatles did when The Beatles would shake their heads.  

My rl bf also suggested I check out Led Zeppelin and Janis Joplin as they are earlier than The Who... but I still  think The Who's song "Love Reign O're Me" sounds more like the generalized screaming in songs that became popular in the 20 th Century.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygOaNo3M_Hw

ETA:  I think this song by The Who, "Love Reign O're Me" IS the groundbreaking song that set the tone for the generalized screaming style in most 20th Century 'rock' songs, because Led Zeppelin and Janis Joplin are more blues oriented.   And rock metal is the largest form of screaming type of singing, though early Motown like Sly and the Family Stone in "Dance to the Music" had some; and also Mitch Ryder another type of screaming.

I think "Love Reign O're Me" just may be the ground-breaker for the heavy metal type of screaming which for the majority of 20th Century music is rock oriented.   If anyone thinks I'm wrong, please help!  lol 

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I think it's more of a natural progression of the style of music. Lots of metal get their influence from classic rock (and often share some of the same influences as the classic rock artists)  who got their influences from Jazz / Blues / 50's rock

Also alot of people have different oppionions on what "screaming" is. Some think the loud vocals on some of say "Thin Lizzy" albums are screaming while some say the more melodic (though ear peircing vocals) of say "Iron Maiden" is screaming and of course I think we can all agree, Death Metal like "Obituary" is deff screaming.

So I think it would probably be artists like Frank Sinatra or Nancy Sinatra (think "These Boots") although not screaming, lead to an evolution of heavier and louder music styles.

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you mean like this? soul had a lot of screamers hehehe but since it as well as the others are a root of blues and blues had a lot of screamers as well..i would say somewhere in the blues history before it birthed  all these other genre's of music

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This practice probably goes back to paleolithic times, when early Australopithecines began to use stone tools and develop a sense of rhythm.

In order to explain the connection between stone tools and music, I have to back up a bit. The ancestors of hominids were frugivores (fruit eaters) and were not equipped to chew and digest tough plant matter. Continental drift, the formation of new mountain ranges, and the resulting climate changes turned the rainforests that were their home into savannahs (which also caused them to walk upright) and their usual food became scarce. In order to survive, they started to use stones to pound seeds and roots into a nourishing and easier digestible mush.

Anthropologists assume that this pounding of stodgy roots and seeds is the origin of music. Australopithecines who, for some strange reason, enjoyed the rhythmic noises of stone hitting on stone -- which is nothing but noise for "normal" animals -- had a greater incentive to process their food in this manner. It wasn't a bother for them, it was fun. And since all extant primates are prone to making loud noises (humans probably more than any other primate species), it's not hard to imagine that they happily screeched and howled along to these primal drum beats :)

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Well if we go back that far Ishy, then they must have gotten the idea from women going through childbirth.  But in 20th Century music, men decided to join in for some reason.  So there is a disconnect in that theory. 

And, if SL put on a Scream Fest, I think my computer would disconnect or blow up, that's for sure.   But, I'd still go to a Scream Fest on SL, just to see if my computer could handle it (and for other reasons too, I'd still go).

I think the order is this:  Blues, Rock N Roll, Motown, Classic Rock to Metal.  

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Mayalily wrote:

Well if we go back that far Ishy, then they must have gotten the idea from women going through childbirth.  But in 20th Century music, men decided to join in for some reason.  So there is a disconnect in that theory. 

Actually, childbirth wasn't a big deal for our Australopithecine ancestors. The reason that childbirth is such a painful and dangerous procedure for anatomically modern humans is the freakishly large skull of a human infant, as well as the narrow pelvis of Homo sapiens (which is an optimization for upright walking).

Australopithecus had wider pelvises in comparison to their body size. Which caused them to walk bow-legged and clumsy, but it also allowed for a wide birth canal. At the same time, they had much smaller skulls. It was as easy and painless for them to give birth as it is for all extant primate species -- all mammal species actually -- with humans being the only exception. We've paid a high price for being brainy freaks of nature :)

 

PS: There is a popular hypothesis which suggests that the danger of childbirth is one of the main reasons that humans became such a social and intelligent species. Human women (and Homo erectus females before them) needed protection and assistance during childbirth, as well as a certain amount of aftercare. This caused a selection for compassionate and cooperative individuals with exceptional communication skills (and kind of made the problem worse, since the increased social intelligence led to even larger skulls). But I don't want to bore you :)

 

PPS: You don't have to go that far back btw. If there is any authenticity to the music of medieval metal bands like In Extremo, the wandering troupes of musicians who performed on medieval markets also had a pretty rough and "heavy" musical style with occasional screaming. In Extremo strive to revive traditional ballads from the Middle Ages, and except for their use of electric guitars and modern drum kits, they also play authentic medieval instruments. Here is an example (the song "Herr Mannelig" is an old Swedish ballad about a female mountain troll who falls in love with a knight):

(Edited to add links)

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Mayalily wrote:

Well if we go back that far Ishy, then they must have gotten the idea from women going through childbirth.  But in 20th Century music, men decided to join in for some reason.  So there is a disconnect in that theory. 

And, if SL put on a Scream Fest, I think my computer would disconnect or blow up, that's for sure.   But, I'd still go to a Scream Fest on SL, just to see if my computer could handle it (and for other reasons too, I'd still go).

I think the order is this:  Blues, Rock N Roll, Motown, Classic Rock to Metal.  

This post made me roar.  Wonderful. 

@Ishtara, you are always a pleasure to read.  

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Personally I credit Jimi Hendrix as the inventor of Heavy Metal - and I don't recall him screaming.

Then again, Ozzy Ozzbourne and whoever the singers to Rush and Iron Maiden were didn't scream much either. In fact they often had beautiful musical voices.

So the screaming stuff comes in somewhere later. I think it was a counter-reaction to 80s hairbands.

MTV learned how to destroy music cultures with hairbands killing off most of the older heavy metal groups from the "charts".

Then they moved on and killed off Soul and Conscious Hip Hop / Rap by promoting Gangster Rap. Almost managed the same trick in Reggae by promoting Dancehall - only failing there because they never owned the Jamaican market and the Roots and Culture guys managed to do religious conversions on many of the Dancehall stars.

(Pretty sure the same 'destruction' seems to have hit Country too. But I know so little about that music I couldn't draw a comparrision.)

So... back to topic. The screamers in metal seem to have come about as a deliberate move to say 'get out of our art form' to MTV/Pop branding. I can't stand the sound of those screamers - but as a fan of Roots in reggae and hip hop, I respect them. They took back their art from the 'brands', much as the Rastafarians have managed to do over the last few years in Reggae.

 

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That guy is not screaming, that's just a vocal style.  I didn't hear any screaming?  Click on link provided in first page of the this thread:  Love Reign O're Me by The Who.

@ PC, yes, Jimmy could be accredited for some of the heavy metal sounds.

Also, with what Void said about punk... I think metal was before punk (but need to do further checking), so I think punk, grunge, etc.... I don't need right now.  I'm looking for what came before and how it progressed, not necessarily how metal progressed into other genre's such as grunge for an example. 

Though I love grunge; hardly ever hear it played on SL, and I love the grunge look for my avatar! 

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Mayalily wrote:

I think metal was before punk (but need to do further checking)

 depending on the type of punk, you'd be right... but if memory serves, the continual screaming came after in the mesh of the two, with punk pioneering it, and then black and death metal picking it up, with speed and acid metal following.

unfortunately large parts of both "scenes" were never really mainstream or publicized, (although metal tended to get more [negative] media attention)

early punk preceded metal to my memory, but it was more like what we'd call alt rock today. early metal proceeded what we think of modernly as punk, and modern metal variations took a lot from punk early metal and early hard rock (which we now mostly call classic rock.)

confused yet?... I know it warps my neurons. it's all music to my ears though (some of it is just crappy music IMO =)

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favorite screamer of all time that did it with no effort to scream..he was just that good at it LOL

who you ask? who else but Bon scott *winks*

i just used this video beause it shows they are timeless...with Bon scott hehehe..the other guy is a bon scott wanabe tries to hard screamer that is gonna hurt his throat if he doesn't stop soon guy..

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No mention yet of the man named for his screams? Mr Screamin' Jay Hawkins, the original shock-rocker. 1956 for this little number. 

 

As far as the invention of heavy metal goes, The Kinks' "You Really Got Me" (1964?) is widely credited as the blueprint for heavy metal with its use of power chords. Taking that even further back, Link Ray used the same thing in "Rumble" (late 50's), and before that they were in some of the earliest electric blues compositions.

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Amazing!  This might be the one.  Thank you Keli, I will check out dates, recordings, etc.  At the time this came out, I wonder what the people of that time thought? 

About The Kinks, You Really Got Me, couldn't say enough good things about that song.  I like The Kinks more than The Beatles, but The Kinks were thought to be communist's or something like that, so they got banned from America for a long time. 

 

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Yeah, I was thinking the same thing, chanting more than screaming.  I don't think tapping rocks together would have made our ancients scream either, it would give them a beat, which was a type of communication or warning signal.  But if we take early man and screaming, all I can think of is childbirth.  Now, that's something to scream about!   Not to mention they had no medicine nor do we even know what kind of medicine they had for women going thru childbirth.  So, I'm sure a lot of screaming was going on, but it was women screaming. 

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