Wiki Headlines
It's time for the second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest, theme: cute monsters! Details and voting here.

main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Soprano and Gravel
A distinctive vocal style that appears, oddly enough, in both symphonic metal and "club" or "dance"-style music, particularly in groups from Europe. One singer is a female, frequently a childlike soprano, while another is a male with a deep, gravelly voice. They will either sing alternating lines, or one will predominate while the other performs a counterpoint to the first's melodic line, sometimes in a format similar to traditional call-and-response.

In symphonic metal or heavy metal, the girl may be replaced by another male singing with a clear tenor or falsetto.

Another form of this trope is having the verses screamed or growled, and the chorus sung, either by one vocalist or two alternating vocalists. This style is most common in Metalcore, harder Nu Metal and Alternative Metal, some Groove Metal, some Melodic Death Metal, and occasionally Black Metal.

The gravelly male/soprano female combo is usually referred to as "Beauty and the Beast" in the symphonic/gothic metal scene. In this case the male vocals are usually of the "extreme metal" variety.

Finally, it can occasionally work within a dual harsh vocal context, with one person having a low grunt and the other having a higher rasp or howl.


Dance and Pop Music
  • Aqua
  • Jenny Rom/Giovanna
  • Danish pop duo Toy-Box
  • The 1970s pop group Boney M may have been the progenitors of this sound with several of their singles, such as the song "Rasputin".
  • Captain Jack.
  • Kate Bush used it in 1985 with "Waking The Witch". In this case she provided both voices: one track is her natural voice, the other is a drastically slowed down demonic growl.
  • Trip-hop forerunner Tricky has frequently collaborated with delicate-voiced Martina Topley-Bird.
  • Massive Attack have worked with Shara Nelson, Tracey Thorn, Nicolette, Sara Jay, Elizabeth Fraser, Sinéad O'Connor, etc.
  • "Iss cummin' oop, iss cummin' oop, iss cummin' oop, iss DARE!"
  • Real McCoy
  • Jennifer Warnes duetting with Joe Cocker on "Up Where We Belong" and then later with Bill Medley on "Time of My Life".
    • Not to mention with Leonard Cohen on "Joan of Arc" and pretty much any of his more recent albums.
  • An example where the male and female roles are inverted: Aretha Franklin and George Michael's "I Knew You Were Waiting".
  • Another Gender Flip: "What Have I Done To Deserve This?" by Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield. Dusty, already famed for her low, sultry voice, had a noticeably rougher edge to her voice after years of smoking, and sang the low part alongside Neil Tennant's boyish, nasal tenor.
  • "Steal My Sunshine" by LEN, a band led by a brother-sister duo from Canada (the band is just down to the siblings now, but at the time included other members, particularly Brendan Canning). The song is memorable not only for its bouncy hook (borrowed from Andrea True) and indecipherable but probably depressing lyrics, but for the contrast between the brother's raspy, wheezy vocals and the sister's sugar-sweet, delicate vocals.
  • The Scissor Sisters.
  • The eminently Campy Gunther does this all the damn time. See for yourself.
  • Fun Factory.
  • La Bouche.
  • Tom Jones and The Cardigans' version of Burning Down the House.
  • Jojo in her duet with Jordan Gatsby called "What You Like". Saprano and Bass.
  • Britney Spears in "Big Fat Bass" with Lampshaded with the lyrics being "I can be treble, you can be the bass"
  • Gender-swapped in Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse's duet of "Body and Soul;" Tony is actually the soprano in this case.
  • Lime.
  • Trust's sophomore album, 'Joyland' is full of these, specially songs like "Rescue, Mister", "Lost Souls/Eelings" and "Joyland". But, in this case, Robert Alfons (the man behind Trust) sings both Soprano and Gravel.

Heavy Metal
  • King Diamond is the patron saint and ur-example of this trope in another one-singer case, combining harsh semi-growly vocals with extremely girly falsetto vocals as early as the first Mercyful Fate album in 1983, and continuing to do so for all of his career till present. Some of his latest albums also contain actual female vocals.
  • Progressive metal band Cynic uses this in pretty much every song...sort of. Instead of mixing soprano vocals and gravelly vocals, they mix vocoded robot vocals and growled death metal vocals.
  • Theatre Of Tragedy was allegedly the first metal band that used the soprano girl with grunting man variant.
    • Certainly the Trope Codifier of soprano girl/grunting man - Paradise Lost and The Gathering had done this before, but Theatre of Tragedy were the first to make it popular.
  • Ensiferum uses the double male singer variant. One guitarist uses a mid-ranged rasp, while the other uses a very manly-sounding tenor.
  • Rammstein has used this style, most notably for the songs Engel, Moskau, Stirb Nicht Vor Mir (Don't Die Before I Do) (which is a duet with Sharleen Spiteri from the Scottish band Texas), and, to an extent, Spieluhr (which features vocals from guitarist Richard Kruspe's daughter, Khira Li).
  • Deadlock may be the best example. Johannes Prem performs really harsh (for melodeath) growling vocals, while female vocalist Sabine Scherer performs in a very clean, girlish melodic voice. Props to being one of the few non-Gothic Metal examples.
  • Celtic Frost has occasionally used this, most notably on their comeback album Monotheist.
  • Nightwish has been moving toward this style since changing soprano leads.
    • Since bassist-vocalist Marco Hietala joined the band. Once, Tarja Turunen's last studio album with the band, used this style extensively.
    • They've been using this since before Hietala joined. Anyone remember The Phaoroh Sails to Orion?
    • Even before that, Beauty and the Beast from their first album includes Tuomas.
  • As I Lay Dying has the lead vocalist with deathlike growls and their bassist with clean vocals.
  • Within Temptation: Enter only.
    • Also the bonus track Jane Doe.
    • More recently, "Our Solemn Hour", "Silver Moonlight", and in "What Have You Done?" with a guest vocalist.
  • Dream Theater arguably uses a modified, three part male version, with lead singer singing soprano through tenor on much of the music, the guitarist singing the occasional detached tenor phrase (beauty and the ghost?) and the drummer doing everything from falsetto to shouting to tenor back-up. (Beauty and the shapechanger?)
  • Draconian.
  • Tristania. This is somewhat unique in being a three-part version, combining female vocals, clean male vocals and death growls.
  • Sirenia (though this is not surprising as they are a spin-off group of the above).
  • Giant Squid is an interesting example because the female vocalists always does somewhat soothing/operatic vocals, while Aaron Gregory switches between equally operatic and harsh vocals throughout the songs.
  • Otep has Soprano and Gravel vocals...both done by the lead singer, Otep Shamaya. Who is a woman.
  • Kittie. Lead vocalist Morgan Lander used to stick to just screaming, but on more recent albums has opted to do both clean and guttural vocals.
  • Atargatis.
  • Lacrimosa.
  • L'Âme Immortelle.
  • Epica: Simone Simons' soprano contrasted with Mark Jansen's growls and screams.
  • Lacuna Coil.
  • 3 Inches Of Blood again uses two males, one with a Halfordesque high-pitched scream and cry. While the other uses a very throaty hardcore growl and snarl.
  • Subverted by Cradle Of Filth with their cover of Heaven 17's "Temptation" (which played this trope straight). While the male vocalist uses a harsh raspy tone (fitting the trope), his female co-singer (Dirty Harry) breaks traditional having a aggressive, almost evil tone to her voice that occasionally transitioning into a aggressive roar. In other words instead of beauty and the beast, we have evil witch and the beast.
    • But they play it straight in any song where Sarah provides vocal parts, and in the title track off "Nymphetamine".
    • Actually, one could argue that they've used this style for a long time: Call me what you like, but the lead vocals often scream like a harpy/little girl. Example:Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids in the first half minute (after the introduction, silly!)
  • Kamelot's Epica (which came before the band) and The Black Halo do this with only one person. The lead singer, Roy Khan, sings in an operatic voice to represent the Faustian character, Ariel, and a considerably harsher, more distorted, and altogether creepier voice to represent Mephisto.
    • The Mephisto voice on The Black Halo, but not Epica, is actually Shagrath of Dimmu Borgir (Snowy Shaw of a million and a half different bands in the live version found on One Cold Winter's Night.)
    • In further support of the trope, the Helena character is sung by guitarist Thomas Youngblood's wife, Mari.
  • The band Leaves' Eyes has a husband & wife team, the wife does most of the vocals with her husband doing the growling and rougher stuff, usually in the chorus. He also introduces them for their live shows.
    • It's worth noting that the wife in question is Liv Kristine, former singer of Theatre of Tragedy. ToT lost the "beauty & the beast" vocals with the album "Aegis" and has been exploring other styles since then. Liv started LE with her husband and then was fired from To T a couple years later. Theatre has yet to return to this style, but LE has always used it.
  • Blind Guardian has done this sort of thing on occasion, usually without hiring extra vocalists.
    • In other words, their singer has about a four octave range and does everything from clear singing to very harsh, almost growled vocals, though the rough/clear changes aren't always related to the low/high changes.
    • Hansi Kursch is the Frank Welker of singers. The entire vocal section of A Night at the Opera consists of him and four sparsely used choir vocalists.
  • In an extremely rare example, Why She Kills features two females, one using harsh death growls while the other with a operatic soothing voice.
    • Evilion is another band like this.
    • All-girl metal band Kittie does this as well.
  • Early Underoath (primarily on their debut album) featured the lead singer with a tortured agonizing scream while the drummer would add ominous and creepy spoken word segments as well as backing cries. After a change of lead singers and a Genre Shift to emo-metalcore, they went to a standard screamed-verse-sung-chorus format.
  • Chad Gray, lead singer of Mudvayne, typically switches between a melodic Perishing Alt Rock Voice, a raspier singing voice, and a harsh roar.
  • Elvenking, on their debut album, regularly used a Tenor And Gravel style, their original bassist Jarpen being able to produce death metal style growls. Seasonspeech, what is considered their best song, combined this with two different female vocal styles - one a delicate soprano as described in this trope, and the other an alto. Jarpen left the band after that first album, and Elvenking still hasn't recovered.
  • In Flames and Dark Tranquillity have both experimented with this when having guest vocalists on their songs.
    • In Flames has a particularly shining example with their collab song with Pendulum, "Self vs Self". Pendulum vocalist Rob Swire sings highly melodically, and polarly contrasts with Anders Friden's mid-range death growls.
  • Motorhead and Girlschool qualify anytime they collaborate I mean, voices don't come much more gravely and raspy then Lemmy's.
  • On Dragonforce's third album "Inhuman Rampage" Herman and Sam's former bandmate "Behemoth" from Demoniac provides backing black metal screams and growls on several of the bands songs.
  • Dave Mustaine used layering to achieve a similar effect in the song Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! He sang it in a low register and then in a high register, and put them together. Don't ask him to sing live, unless you really want to be disappointed. Played straight with their remake of "A Tout Le Monde", which had Dave collaborating with Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil.
    • Mustaine also used a sort of Gravel and Sharp Bed of Rocks in the end verse of Five Magics, where he sang in his normal singing voice and then in an even sharper growl.
      • The growl was originally done by bassist David Ellefson but the remaster replaced his vocals with Mustaine's.
  • After Forever.
  • Ayreon occasionally uses this; for example, "The Sixth Extinction" has Jonas Renske (Katatonia) growling and Floor Jansen (After Forever) in operatic mode singing the same lyrics.
  • Fear Factory have made the one-man version their signature.
  • Killswitch Engage popularized the use of this trope in metalcore.
  • Devin Townsend, in almost all of his work, combines at least six different varieties of growling with clean vocals. For a better example, check out the album "Ziltoid the Omniscient", and then check the liner notes. Yes, every single voice on the album was ONE GUY.
  • Related to the Nightwish example above, Marco Hietala's band, Tarot, occasionally uses Marco's gravel with Tommi Salmela's gravel, making for a sort of echoing beast sound.
  • In another male-and-male example, Rhapsody of Fire's CD-single release of "The Magic of the Wizard's Dream" featured a duet version of the album track between singer Fabio Lione (tenor) and Christopher Lee (bass—yes, that Christopher Lee)—in four different languages!
  • In a rare case of both the higher and lower voices being sung by the same man, this effect was used by David Draiman of Disturbed to tell the story behind "Down with the Sickness", seamlessly switching between the melodic but sombre 'human' side and the violent monster slowly rising to the surface. The song occasionally has Draiman move between the personas in the course of a single phrase. (it seems you're having some trouble / in dealing with these changes / living with these changes)
  • It isn't their usual style, but Turisas do this in a few songs (e.g. Midnight Sunrise).
  • iwrestledabearonce does it with one singer, a female who does the growling, and then in the middle of a song will switch to more traditional singing (usually on a single syllable).
  • Ditto with The Agonist, due to Alissa White-Gluz' ability to sing both clean and growling vocals.
  • Maria Brink from In This Moment does both by herself as well.
  • Same goes to Arkona's Maria Arkhipova.
  • Manilla Road's vocal style alternates between Orc (rough, low, and heavy) and Blood Elf (high and clear).
  • Scar Symmetry does it with two male vocalists.
    • They started off with a single vocalist doing both the growling and the clean singing.
  • Cattle Decapitation is an interesting case; while Travis Ryan does use clean vocals, they are NOT your standard clear-cut melodic ones; his are more of a nasally screech that serve less to provide a counter to the harsh vocals and more to create a feeling of unease, as they're VERY unnerving. "Kingdom of Tyrants" is the closest you'll come to traditional cleans, and those are still more in the vein of abrasive post-punk.
  • In a single singer example, Opeth's frontman Mikael Akerfeldt alternates between deep growling vocals and clear, clean singing.
  • Sculptured has the two-male variant of this going on in all of their albums. The leader of the band, Don Anderson, wanted to do vocals as well as guitar, but can't sing, so he has hired other vocalists to do clean vocals, which tend to be in the tenor range, and much more melodic than his growling.
  • Swedish gypsy-metal group Diablo Swing Orchestra incorporates growly male vocals with classically-trained female operatic soprano.
  • Queen has macho tenor Freddie paired with the much smoother-voiced Brian May.
    • Roger Taylor's raspy husky voice paired with Freddie also counts. Note that Roger have also sung way higher and softer than Freddie sometimes, therefore inverting the roles.
  • The sung version of Apocalyptica's song "Bittersweet" plays with the trope by way of guest vocalists Ville Valo from H.I.M. and Lauri Ylönen from The Rasmus): both are male, and Lauri's higher tenor voice is actually the graveled one in comparison to Ville's velvet-smooth bass. It makes an interesting effect when Ville suddenly slides up into the same range as Lauri.
  • Behemoth's layered vocals could be considered a serious subversion of this, particularly on Demigod, where Nergal would double track nearly every line on the album, recording himself screaming in a very high pitched black metal style scream, and then bellowing over it with a low roaring voice.
    • A similar effect is achieved live, with Orion and Seth (bassist and rhythm guitarist) providing backup vocals. Three armour-clad dudes doing death growls in unison. It is somewhat intimidating.
  • Unexpect has three vocalists, all of whom contribute both clean and harsh vocals, but there is much interplay between Leilindel's ethereal soprano and the two guitarists' growling and shrieking.
  • Disarmonia Mundi does it with growler Claudio and clean singer Ettore. And then there's former member and occasional guest vocalist Speed from Soilwork, who uses both harsh and clean singing, resulting in a quite beautiful vocal mess.
  • Amaranthe has a harsh singer, a female clean singer and a male clean singer.
  • Dimmu Borgir started using this when ICS Vortex was in the band (they had also used it earlier, with "Over bleknede blåner til dommedag" from For all tid and "The Night Masquerade" from Enthrone Darkness Triumphant).
  • Battlelore goes with a female clean singer and a male harsh singer for pretty much every song.
  • D'espairs Ray's singer HIZUMI is an example of a Beauty and the Beast version, interestingly all on his lonesome - much of the band's sound focuses on his ability to switch from fiercely raw growling to an achingly smooth clean singing voice at the drop of a hat.
  • Ill Nino's Cristian Machado is another one-man example. He tends to use several voices rather than just two. He usually alternates between his distinct clean vocals and his signature mid-pitched screams, but is also heard doing a whisper-like voice, rap-like speaking vocals, and even lower pitched growls among others.
  • Shadows Fall achieves this on number of songs, such as What Drives The Weak, Redemption and Still I Rise. Singer Brian Fair provides the harsher growling lead vocals, and guitarist Matt Bachand adds clean vocals, usually to the chrous.
  • Dir En Grey does this with one guy as well. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to a man by the name of Kyo. This man can do death growls, screams, clean vocals, shrieks, bellows, you name it; he can do everything.
  • Soilwork's Bjorn Strid alternates between smooth clean vocals and screams. He can pull of death growls, too, but rarely is heard doing it.
  • Chimaira occasionally does this. While most of their songs feature mainly screamed vocals, sometimes Mark Hunter will throw in some melodic lines in a drastically different voice than he usually performs with.
  • God Forbid does it with two guys. Lead vocalist Byron Davis performs the screams/growls, while other members, usually guitarist Dallas Coyle, perform the clean vocals.
  • Demon Hunter has pretty much made a name for themselves using this style. Long before it was fashionable, they combined melodic choruses with screamed verses. Most of their songs feature this formula.
  • Nonpoint is a strange example. Vocalist Elias Soriano alternates between harshly rapped vocals, screaming, smooth clean singing, edgy clean singing, and fast R&B style delivery. Whether he does it in a whole song or for one word depends on whatever mood the band is in.
  • Between The Buried And Me's Tommy Rogers does both by himself, although he usually does the harsh singing and uses his clean voice to soften certain parts of the song. His cleans became more prevalent during and after the Colors era.
  • Ozzy Osbourne, while not having a particularly deep or gravelly singing voice, still provides raspy male vocals to compliment smoother female ones in at least two songs: "Close My Eyes Forever" is a duet with Lita Ford, and Ozzy and his daughter Kelly did a cover of the Black Sabbath ballad "Changes" and changed the lyrics to make the song about a father/daughter relationship as opposed to a romantic one. And it is heartbreaking.
  • Asagi from D is another one-man example of this trope—one of the distinctive features of the band's music is his ability to switch between his regular clean vocals, Harsh Vocals, and his strong falsetto.
  • Deftones' Chino Moreno alternates between ear-piercing screeches and soothing, tenor clean vocals that, due to the style, aren't that easy to understand.
  • Insomnium does this on many songs, layering guitarist Ville Friman's clean vocals with lead vocalist Nillo Sevanen's death growls.
  • Blood Stain Child, especially as of Epsilon, contrasting bassist Ryo's death growls with (former) vocalist Sophia's clean female vocals. They seem set to continue this trend with the addition of female vocalist Kiki, who was in part chosen due to her ability to handle both screams and clean vocals.
  • Fleshgod Apocalypse has bassist Paolo Rossi's clean vocals contrasting with lead vocalist/guitarist Tommaso Riccardi's death growls.
  • Onmyouza, a Japanese Prog Metal band that sings Entirely in Middle Ages JapaneseAoki Dokugan, or Lone Blue Eye He's singing as rough as he can.

Punk and Hardcore
  • Alexisonfire uses the double male variant with one using a hardcore scream and the other with extremely melodic and soft voice.
    • In fact it's a triple male variant. The pretty voice, the psychotic voice, and the "really punk, but not screaming" voice of the lead guitarist.
  • Atreyu have a harsh screamer for the lead vocals and their drummer provides the clean pop voice for their choruses.
  • Skillet uses this with the lead singer and the female drummer during their songs "Hero" and "Awake and Alive."
  • Protest the Hero reverses the above example with the lead singer using a high pitched power metal style croon (which he will sometimes turn into a harsh scream or a falsetto) with one of the other members supplying backing death grunts. Also, in Kezia, an alto woman will do a lower harmony while Rody sings HIGHER than her.
  • "And Then Came To Kill" by The Chariot has the frantic, psychotic scream of Josh Scogin placed alongside guest vocals from Paramore's Hayley Williams.
  • Funeral For A Friend perfected this contrast in their song 'Red Is The New Black'. The intro has the singer on his own, the verses and middle eight have contrasting screaming and singing and then the chorus is pure singing with the rest of the band providing harmony. The chorus is so successful because it comes across like a breath of fresh air after the heavy verses.
  • Husker Du stood out with Bob Mould's raw, more punkish screaming and Grant Hart's tamer, more melodic singing.
  • "Baby I'm An Anarchist" sees Against Me! adding female vocals to their normal gravelly ones.
    • "Borne On The FM Waves Of The Heart" does this again, with Tegan Quin (Half of Tegan And Sara) providing the counterpoint to Tom Gabel's vocals.
  • The Pogues rendition of "Fairytale of New York". And while you're at it, make that "soprano and drunken gravel."
  • Inverted in the Punish Yourself song Dead White Skin, which features clean male vocals and the "gravel" coming from female growling vocals (provided by Candice from French metal band Eths).
    • X had a similar situation, with John Doe having a croon reminiscent of a 40s/50s singer, and then-wife Exene Cervenka having a rough, punk growl.
  • Hatred Surge has a variation with female high-pitched screaming and male growls.
  • DRAGONLAND on their album Astronomy.
  • Both Jimmy Urine and Steve, Righ? of Mindless Self Indulgence exhibit large vocal ranges, with Urine in particular often jumping back and forth from a piercing falsetto to harsh growls in a matter of a few seconds.
  • Rolo Tomassi: Eva Spence is a one-person example of this trope, as she can both scream and sing rather sweetly.
  • Arguably, Davey Havok of AFI manages to achieve this himself on certain songs, such as Kill Caustic, Dancing Through Sunday, Death of Seasons and Miss Murder, and certain live performances of Totalimmortal and The Leaving Song Part II.
  • The Clash, at the height of their creative power, featured Joe Strummer’s growly, raspy baritone and Mick Jones’ clear, reedy tenor often at interplay with each other.

Alternative rock
  • A rare male example/inversion: one of the defining characteristics of Alice in Chains is the interplay between guitarist Jerry Cantrell's rather smooth voice and Layne Staley's famous strangled, nasal whine. They also play this straight on the songs "Got Me Wrong" and "Am I Inside" from the Sap EP, where they collaborate with Ann Wilson from Heart.
  • Linkin Park have at times contrasted the smooth and rhythmic voice of Mike Shinoda with their lead singer Chester Bennington who uses a angst filled scream and croon.
  • The Barenaked Ladies offered another double male contrast with Ed Robertson’s subdued, straightforward vocals and Steven Page’s eccentric, sometimes quasi-operatic tones.
    • From their holiday album Barenaked For The Holidays, they perform a medley of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "We Three Kings", joined by Sarah McLachlan, whose sweet clear voice contrasts nicely with Steven Page.
  • H.I.M have played with this on occasion. Notably with their cover of Blue Oyster Cults "Don't Fear The Reaper".
  • Evanescence did this with their breakthrough single "Bring Me To Life" which contrasts Amy Lee's icy voice with Paul McCoy (of 12 Stones)'s more traditional rocker style.
    • She did this again with her duet with Seether on "Broken" where again her icy voice is contrasted with the extremely gravely and angst filled tone of Shaun Morgan
    • The demo song "Lies" is another example of this style, where Amy is contrasted against the deep, ominous singing/growling of male vocalist Bruce Fitzhugh of Christian Metal band Living Sacrifice.
  • Canadian rockers Calicose occasionally have their female lead singer aided by backing screams from their bassist.
  • Stone Temple Pilots is a very rare example where there's one singer who does the contrasting high and low vocals. While generally Scott Weiland uses his loud, gravelly voice and high, smoother-sounding croon for different songs, in a couple of them (such as "Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart"), he uses both styles for a contrasting sound.
  • Swans is another example. Michael Gira, with a dull monotone and Jarboe, with operatic soprano, alternate lead vocals for different songs (although Gira leads in most of the songs). In some cases, they record different versions of the same song, with Gira singing in one version and Jarboe singing in another.
  • Fightstar have on occasion used the breathy and strained voice of their frontman Charlie Simpson with a much softer tone that is provided by the other guitarist Alex Westaway.
  • Ritchie Blackmore usually doesn't sing in Blackmore's Night, but when he does, his voice contrasts with Candice's just right for this trope.
  • The Pixies used this trope with Black Francis' yowling and yelling vocals and Kim Deal's feathery voice.
    • A lot of Pixies songs do an instrumental version of this by contrasting Black Francis's acoustic or clean-sounding rhythm guitar with Joey Santiago's far more distorted and abrasive lead.
  • Starflyer 59, after Jason Martin started singing deeper, all his backing singers have been falsetto.
  • Ex-Chiodos front man Craig Owens is/was most known for singing in a high falsetto, to then switch to gut-wrenching screams mid song.
    • Their new front man, Brandon Bolmer, is a less extreme example.
  • U2 do this at least twice. "The Fly" contrasts between Bono's low, growly sorta vocals and The Edge's falsetto chorus. Inverted for "Numb": The Edge's droning Piss-Take Rap contrasts with Bono's high-pitched "fat lady vocals".
    • Recently, U2 recorded a new version of their hit song "One" as a duet with Mary J. Blige, her clear tenor vocals contrasting nicely with Bono's low growls.
  • Peter Gabriel's done this trope on more than one occasion; with Kate Bush in "Don't Give Up", Sinead O'Connor in "Blood of Eden" and(in a male-male example) African vocalist Youssou NDour in "In Your Eyes". His live album "Secret World" features Paula Cole("Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?") doing back-up vocals for the whole concert.
  • A Skylit Drive do this with frontman Michael "Jag" Jagmin's high pitched, ambiguously female-sounding voice, and bassist Brian White's guttural growls.
  • The Harry Potter Heavy Mithril band Ministry Of Magic. Most notable in "Lily", which makes sense, seeing as it's about The Lost Lenore.
  • Neon Horse: Mark Salomon alternates between guttural and falsetto vocals (and a few other styles). On a few songs, thanks to overdubbing, he sings both at once.
  • The Horrors' version of "Still Life" featuring Florence Welch invokes this trope. See for yourself.
  • "Sometimes Always" by The Jesus & Mary Chain. The usual raspy sneer of William Reid is paired with the purer-sounding voice of Hope Sandoval.
  • Peter & Leah from July Talk. Peter's gravel is especially coarse.

Other Styles
  • Nick Cave occasionally uses this, though the female voice is not always, strictly speaking, a soprano. When he plays "Where The Wild Roses Grow" on tour, he occasionally pulls out guitarist Blixa Bargeld to sing the female verses, and the contrast between the two voices is... less striking but rather more interesting.
    • Inverted on his cover of "What a Wonderful World" with Shane MacGowan.
  • This trope was probably the whole point of Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan working together in the first place.
    • Well, Mark Lanegan can do that to ANYBODY's voice. Song for the Deaf from the album Songs for the Deaf comes to mind. And this is Josh Homme singing, one of the perennial badasses of Alternative Rock. And Lanegan makes HIM sound like a baby...
  • Sarah Brightman does this in a lot of her earlier duets. Mostly the ones with Chris Thompson.
  • DMX with any female singer not named Mary J. Blige. The two best examples are "You Don't Have to Go Home" with Monica and "Come Back in One Piece" with the late Aaliyah.
  • Jennifer Lopez's remix of "I'm Real" is completely reworked as a duet with rapper Ja Rule, whose style is similar to DMX's (whether or not he's playing Follow the Leader has always been a heated debate between fans of the two emcees)
    • A number of Ja Rule's own songs also fit the bill, such as "Put It On Me" with Lil' Mo, and "Always On Time" with Ashanti.
  • Tom Waits does this when he duets with pretty much anyone who doesn't have throat cancer. In particular, he duets with Bette Midler on "I Never Talk to Strangers" and has an entire album dueting with Crystal Gayle on the soundtrack to One From the Heart.
  • "Haunted", performed by Shane MacGowan and Sinéad O'Connor (or Cait O'Riordan, depending on the recorded version). Less Soprano and Gravel and more like "Soprano & Rusted Pig-Iron". And, above, with his duet with Nick Cave.
  • Happy Rhodes often sings both parts herself. Perfect example: 'Til The Dawn Breaks (which, incidentally, is not a duet by Kate Bush and Annie Lennox.)
  • Supertramp's lead vocals during their peak of popularity were provided by the bluesier, lower-pitched keyboardist Rick Davies and the high tenor vocals of guitarist/keyboardist Roger Hodgson. When Roger moved to a solo career in 1984, auxillary guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Mark Hart provided Roger's parts live (and sometimes the second lead vocal parts in the studio), but in a lower-pitched (and raspier) voice, but one still higher than Rick's.
  • "Gimme Shelter". Merry Clayton is the female vocalist.
  • Timbaland does this, probably best known for Promiscuous with Nelly Furtado, and Keri Hilson's debut Return the Favour.
  • Genderswapped in Whenever I Call You Friend with Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks. It's Stevie who has the deeper voice than Kenny.
  • The Street & Babe Shadow employ this with Paige Stark and Luke Paquin, although not as much on the only song of theirs on YouTube.
  • Genderswapped as well in The Hazards Of Love, whenever William and the Forest Queen interact — for example, "The Wanting Comes In Waves / Repaid".
  • Queen does this from time to time, expecially with their more operatic songs like "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Seven Seas of Rhye"; with lead singer Freddie Mercury alternating between a harsh, growling tenor and a clean, piercing falsetto.
    • The starkest example would be Mercury's duet with Montserrat Caballé in "Barcelona".
  • Grand Funk Railroad: Don Brewer (gravel), Mark Farner (soprano).
    • Master mimics Triumph copied this, down to the respective roles being taken by the drummer and the guitarist.
  • Chibi from The Birthday Massacre, while not reaching the level of gravel that most guys get to, manages to do this on her own in Blue pretty darned well.
  • Johnny Cash does this quite a bit. First off, any time he sings with June Carter. Second, there are many many songs on a number of the American Recordings albums with much smoother female vocalists (e.g. Field of Diamonds, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Father and Son, maybe a few others?)
  • Ray Charles and Betty Carter's duet on "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is a perfect example. Charles's low growl and Carter's ethereal, floating, ultra-high voice are in stark contrast. Interestingly, Carter was known for having an extremely wide vocal range.
  • Gender Flipped with Patrick Wolf where he sings a duet with Eliza Carthy. He his the high parts while she gets the gravel on the song The Bachelor. This is the second time he does this as he also had a duet with Marianne Faithfull on his previous album
  • An entire album long example is found in Lovage: Music to Make Love To Your Old Lady By, with Mike Patton and Jennifer Charles of The Elysian Fields singing duets on every track. Bonus: The album is produced by Dan the Automator. In live performances they also tended to cover "I'm Real" by Jennifer Lopez and Ja Rule, which already fit this trope... and subverted expectations by having Mike Patton take Jennifer Lopez's part while Jennifer Charles took Ja Rule's.
  • Crash Test Dummies frequently uses this trope, with gravelly lead vocalist Brad Roberts contrasted by the much clearer Ellen Reid. Notable examples include "Superman's Song" and their version of "Good King Wenceslas" from their Christmas Album "Jingle All The Way".
  • Chicago original members Terry Kath(gravel)and Peter Cetera(near-falsetto), particularly on "In The Country" and "Dialogue."
  • The Black Eyed Peas with the So Bad, It's Good My Humps.
  • "Genesis of Destruction", a remixed version of the Final Boss theme from Final Fantasy IV composed by the OC Remix community, incorporates this in its stupendously awesome Rock Opera style.
  • Louis Armstrong recorded an acclaimed series of jazz duets with Ella Fitzgerald. Possibly the Ur Example.
  • The amusing contrast between Willie Nelson's nasal drawl and Julio Iglesias's smooth but heavily-accented vocal probably played a major role in "To All The Girls I've Loved Before" becoming a hit.
    • Willie Nelson would later record a cover of Peter Gabriel's "Don't Give Up" with Sinead O'Connor. She would also perform alongside Van Morrison, singing his hit "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?"
  • Abney Park have an album, Aether Shanties, with numerous examples of this, such as "The Clockyard".
  • Humanwine does this on a number of their songs, such as Rivolta Silenziosa.
  • Gender Flipped with Shiny Toy Guns with the first track of their second album, "When Did This Storm Begin?".
  • "We Share Our Mother's Health" by The Knife: With the aid of studio effects, Karin Dreijer sings both the soprano and gravel parts.
  • The KLF's collaboration with Tammy Wynette in Justified and Ancient.
  • Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan's musical pairings pretty much invoke this trope.
  • Rod Stewart's "Every Picture Tells a Story." Stewart has a pretty high voice, but he is the gravel when he duets with soprano Maggie Bell on the song.
  • Frank Sinatra and Bono's version of Under My Skin.
  • Don Henley and Stevie Nicks in Leather and Lace.
  • Eminem and Rihanna teamed up to do Love the Way You Lie, a song about an abusive relationship, which mirrors their own relationships with other people. Who gets emphasis depends on the version.
  • The Beautiful South sometimes do this, depending on exactly who is singing.
  • Pink Floyd would do this occasionally. While David Gilmour (with keyboardist Richard Wright on a handful of songs) would sing in a clear tenor, Roger Waters would sing in an intentionally abrasive or even threatening tone on some songs as contrast. This is heard most on The Wall, but is not heard on every song or album. The bulk of the vocals on The Dark Side of the Moon, for example, are clear and melodic often with Gilmour, Wright and Waters singing harmonies.
  • Reggae singer Sean Paul's duets with various female singers fit the bill - "Baby Boy" with Beyoncé, "Give It Up To Me" with Keyshia Cole, "I'm Still In Love With You" with Sasha, "Breathe" with Blu Cantrell, and so forth.
  • Beenie Man's duet with Mya, "Girls Dem Sugar", is similar to the Sean Paul examples above.
  • The Band would occasionally pull this off with Levon Helm and Richard Manuel, the latter singing in a ghostly falsetto.
  • Played for Laughs in The Nostalgia Critic's and The Nostalgia Chick's "gender battle" song. The Sissy Villain is trying to be more masculine so he makes his high-ranged voice lower, and The Lad-ette is pretending to be feminine by thinning her voice out.
  • Played for Laughs and combined with Harsh Vocals in the Vocaloid song "The Highschool Girl Next to Me".
  • Pretty common with The Oak Ridge Boys, with Richard Sterban with the Basso Profundo vs. Joe Bonsall's warbling tenor.
  • Peter Hammill of Progressive Rock band Van Der Graaf Generator pulls this off all by himself.
  • A Male/Female inversion in Nephew's song "Blå & Black". The female singer has a very clear example of the Perishing Alt Rock Voice, compared to Simon Kvamms's slightly higher and more emotional singing.
  • In some of J.S. Bach's cantatas, there are duets consisting of a soprano (a soul) and a bass (the Vox Christi, or the voice of Jesus). Usually, the soprano part is sung by an adult woman, but occassionally, a child singer may take up the soprano part. One example of this soprano-and-bass duet can be found in the third movement of J.S. Bach's cantata Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (BWV 140). As noted on the Call-and-Response Song entry for the cantata, this movement consists of a call-and-response structure.
  • Beyond Good & Evil has the DomZ Leitmotif Dancing With DomZ. One half is sung in a mostly monotone female voice (though some parts get downright operatic,) the other half is chanted in a deep, snarling Voice of the Legion.
  • Celldweller, Blue Stahli, Subkulture, Voicians, Varien(sometimes), actually.... pretty much every artist on Klayton's label FiXT are one man examples of this, if they're not instrumental, alternating from ear piercing screams to soaring theatrical cleans.
  • Big & Rich features Big Kenny's deep, crooning bass and John Rich's high, wispy tenor.

  • My Fair Lady and several musicals following it (The Music Man, Camelot, Baker Street) had a soprano principal actress playing opposite a rough-voiced actor permitted to speak through most of his songs. The closest thing My Fair Lady has to a duet of this type is "The Rain in Spain," which is technically a trio.
  • In Anais Mitchell's Hadestown, Persephone is sung by Ani DiFranco and Hades is sung by folk singer Greg Brown. Particularly apparent in their duet "How Long", but also appears with Mitchell (as Eurydice) and Brown in "Hey Little Songbird".


Solar and LunarDuo TropesStraight Man and Wise Guy
Something Something Leonard BernsteinMusic TropesSpoken Word In Music

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy