Have you ever thought about how much your breathing plays a huge role in how well you sound when you’re rapping? Most of the time, us rappers mainly focus on the parts that are being spoken and overlook the importance of the pauses. We have a tendency to overload our bars with too many syllables which cause us to rush words, reducing their clarity while compromising our vocal quality in the process. Let’s look a little deeper into this, shall we?
Preserving Your Energy
Your voice is actually an instrument and in fact, it’s typically the main instrument in each of your songs. In order to ensure that your voice sounds as good as possible, it’s important to make sure your lungs aren’t running out of breath. In fact, you will likely notice that your voices energy will suffer before you run out of breath. So it’s important to make sure you are taking breathes before you even feel like you need to.
We have a tendency to overload our bars because in our minds, the more words we say within a bar, the more aggressive we’re being which we equate to, “rapping better”. But remember, rapping isn’t one dimensional. It’s not just about how fast you can rap it’s also about how good you sound doing it.
The Difference In Breathing
Breathing while rapping is different than how you breathe normally throughout the course of the day. While rapping your breaths should be short and shallow rather than long and deep. This type of breathing is similar to how you would breathe if you were swimming and going underwater constantly during a lap in the pool. People should have difficulty noticing where you’re taking breaths when listening to your songs. If you’re having to take big deep breaths it’s a sign that you need to work more breaths into your performance.
Breathing Is Part Of Your Cadence
Another important thing to mention about breathing is that it’s just as much a part of your flow and cadence as the syllables you use per bar.
The 3 ways we fill in each bar is by syllable count (note count), how long we hold each syllable or note (sustain) and pauses (breaths). So just as you create a pattern for your syllables you should also create a pattern for your breaths to keep a consistent flow. So keep that in mind the next time you’re listening to your favorite rapper. Anytime they’re not saying a word they are usually taking a breath.
Where Should You Breathe?
A good place to start is by taking breaths after the 4th beat in each bar. This is right after the second snare and before the beginning of the next bar. It’s important to note that once you decide to change up your flow you will likely change where you breathe at as well. Again, there’s no rule where you “must” breathe. You can breathe on any of the beats or even between them. The point is after the 4th beat is a good starting point for you to start creating breathing patterns from one bar to the next.
You don’t have to breathe every bar either but I do recommend breathing at least every other bar. You will learn that balancing your air is like controlling your power. For example, if you want to get really busy and not breathe for 4 bars then you will need to take more breaths leading up to that point. So you may breathe once every bar or perhaps multiple times leading up to your 4 bar sprint.
Causes Of Breathe Loss
Also the louder you rap and the more vowels you use per bar the quicker you will run out of breath. For example, right now, say the word “hey” out loud and count how many times you can say it before running out of breath. Now do it again with the word “day”. You can likely say “day” twice as many times than “hey”. Because when you say “Day” you have to touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth which restricts air flow thus allowing to retain more air in your lungs. But when you say “Hey” your mouth is just wide open causing your lungs to deplete air more rapidly. Yeah this rap thing can get pretty deep huh?
I hope these tips give you quite a bit to think about during your next writing session. Let me know how I did in the comments section below. If you would like to watch me demonstrate the dramatic difference proper breathing makes then check out my lesson on Breathing Techniques by CLICKING HERE
Now go write some dope bars and “breathe” new life into your lyrics!