Singing Guide: Ian Dury & the Blockheads

Vocal technique, exercises, tips and relevant resources

Are you a beginner or advanced singer?

Ian Dury & the Blockheads were one of the most original bands of the late 70s, with a unique brand of rock 'n' roll and punk sensibilities. Ian Dury was not a traditional vocalist, but he had a commanding presence on stage and a distinctive voice that made him immediately recognizable. In this article, we will examine how you can learn to sing like Ian Dury, highlighting his unique vocal technique and songs showcasing it.

Vocal Technique

The key to singing like Ian Dury is to understand his unique vocal style. Dury had a limited range, but he made up for it with impeccable timing, phrasing, and a sharp wit. He was known for his distinctive "cockney" accent, which he used to full effect on many of his songs.

One thing that set Dury apart from many other vocalists was his use of "spoken word" or half-sung, half-spoken phrases, as in "Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick," "Reasons to Be Cheerful, Part 3," and "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll." In these songs, Dury's precise, rhythmic delivery was as important as the melody itself.

Dury's voice was also characterized by his use of vibrato, which gave his vocals a unique texture and added to the overall emotional impact of his performances. He often used vibrato to great effect to emphasize certain words or phrases and to add depth and nuance to his singing.

Ian Dury Songs to Showcase Vocal Technique

If you want to learn to sing like Ian Dury, there are several songs that showcase his unique vocal style and technique:

  • "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll": This track is a great starting point for getting a feel for Dury's vocal style, with its half-spoken verses, catchy chorus, and memorable lyrics.
  • "Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick": This classic tune features Dury's signature combination of spoken word and melodic singing, along with a danceable beat and catchy hooks.
  • "Reasons to Be Cheerful, Part 3": This song is a great example of Dury's ability to turn everyday phrases into memorable lyrics, along with his precise rhythm and clever phrasing.
  • "What a Waste": This song showcases Dury's use of vibrato to great effect, particularly in the chorus, and his ability to convey a wide range of emotions through his singing.

Practical Advice

To learn how to sing like Ian Dury, it's important to focus on your timing, phrasing, and accent. Practice speaking and singing in a Cockney accent to get a feel for the rhythms and pacing of Dury's vocal style. Listen carefully to his songs and pay attention to the way he emphasizes certain words and phrases and uses pauses and stops to create dramatic tension.

Try learning some of Dury's songs, starting with "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll," and practice singing them in the style of Ian Dury. Use Singing Carrots' vocal range test to find the notes that work best for your voice, and experiment with different vocal techniques to see what works best for you.

Singing Carrots' pitch accuracy test is a great way to improve your overall pitch accuracy, and the Vocal Pitch Monitor is an invaluable tool for visualizing your vocal range and improving your technique.

Finally, check out Singing Carrots' educational singing course, which covers singing theory and practical tips for improving your voice and becoming a better vocalist.

By following these tips and using Singing Carrots' resources, you'll be well on your way to singing like Ian Dury and developing your own unique vocal style.

Learn more about this artist vocal range, voice type and repertoire.