How to Learn Singing “Cortez the Killer” from Neil Young

Learning to Sing Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer”

“Cortez the Killer” by Neil Young is a song that requires a certain unique vocal technique—mainly folk-rock nasality and sustaining a breathy voice—to truly make it your own.

Step 1: Understand Your Voice

It’s crucial to know your vocal range and the specifics of your voice type. You can use the
Vocal range test and read about
Voice types.

Step 2: Mastering Folk-Rock Nasality

Neil Young has a distinct folk-rock nasal tone. To master nasality in singing, this
video on the soft palate
and this one on how to stop sounding nasal are perfect.

Step 3: Sustaining the Breathy Voice

This song requires sustaining a breathy voice for a long period of time. The Sustain Vocal video will help you build stamina. Remember to review
Breath support guidelines.

Step 4: Emotion and Storytelling

“Cortez the Killer” is a storytelling song, requiring emotional connectivity. You can learn here
how to sing with emotion.

Step 5: Practice

Use the Vocal Pitch Monitor tool to see your sung notes on a virtual piano and match the tones to Young’s.

Step 6: Analyze and Improve

Utilize the Pitch Accuracy Test after your practicing sessions to fine-tune your performance.

Other Songs with Folk-Rock Nasality

Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” also use the folk-rock nasal tone. Search for songs that match your vocal range using this
Song Search tool to practice the technique on a broader scale.

Remember, acquiring a new vocal technique requires patience and practice—enjoy the process!