So What Are Riffs and Runs in Singing?Riffs are like an extra beautiful decoration or embellishments added to singing and can come up anywhere in the song. Longer riffs are called runs. Whitney Houston's 'I Will Always Love You' is one best example where you can find riffs right from the starting line of the song.
How To Riff Singing
Get All The Right NotesTo learn a riff, you have to know the exact notes first. Most riffs consist of a short pattern of notes in the range of 2 to 4 notes. Learn the melody first.
Use Consonants On Each NoteRiffs can sound sloppy when you hear your breath through them. When your breath breaks in between as you riff, it can sound rather disconnected. You need to be able to hold your breath to prevent the sound from interfering with your vocal cords. A good way to avoid leaking air and achieve this would be to use a consonant in front of your notes.
Use Narrower Vowel Sounds To PracticePractice your riffs on a narrower vowel-like an 'eeh' or 'oo' instead of wider vowels like 'aah' or 'uuh'. Wider vowels can make it difficult to adjust your vocal cords to subtle note changes. Hence, practicing with narrow vowels makes it easier for beginners to get the hang of the riff as it demands lesser effort from vocal cords.
Activate Even BreathMake sure to inhale enough air before starting to riff and slowly exhale as if you are slowly carrying the air from the bottom of your ribs.
Use Fish LipsAs you keep practicing, you may feel stiff as your facial muscles and tongue tension could add stress to your larynx area. To avoid this try making fish lips. Fish lips can relax and loosen up your jaw and face muscles and keep your voice box neutral. Sometimes fish lips are also referred to as an embouchure technique that helps in improved singing.
Riffing DownSome people might find it challenging to sing downward riffs compared to riffing up. This could be because riffing down usually creates a sense of lowering energy and causes people to lose focus as they hit lower notes.
Repeat and PracticeAs you get the hang of your riff in singing, slowly increase the tempo and make sure your notes are clean. Keep repeating your riffs until you have perfected it. Repetition also helps build muscle memory and will thus make it easier for you when you have to sing similar riffs.
Here Are Some Useful Vocal Riffs And Runs Exercises That Can Help You