How to Learn Singing “What’s Going On” from Marvin Gaye

Learning to Sing “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye

The iconic song “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye possesses soul, emotion and numerous vocal subtleties. It’s a wonderful choice to hone your skills and explore your vocal versatility.

Vocal Technique: Growling

Marvin Gaye uses “Growl” technique in this song for an emotional impact. It involves phonation while constricting your false vocal folds. This creates a unique gritty texture that adds emotional depth to the song. Similar technique is also heard in songs like “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke and “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner. Before attempting this, warm up your voice by humming. Want to understand more about Growling? Here’s an article detailing this. And, don’t forget to practice with this Growling exercise.

Analyzing and Practicing the Song

Before you start practicing, analyze the song’s composition and your voice using the Singing Carrots resources. This song involves accurate pitch control and rhythm. A mix of chest and head voices is used throughout, so understanding Voice Registers will help. Use the Pitch Accuracy Test to enhance your pitch precision.

Rehearsal and Training

When rehearsing, attempt to come as close as possible to mimic Marvin’s unique style without losing your own authentic voice. To perfect the rhythm and intonation, practice along with the original track, then try it a cappella. Work progressively from singing sections to the entire song. The Vocal Pitch Monitor will be a helpful tool for this.


Performing the song accurately will involve adequate breath support, emotional expression, and mastering the technique of articulation. Refer this article on articulation to understand it better. Practice articulation by using the Finger Bite exercise. Remember, every individual has a unique voice and style. Try not to mimic Marvin completely, instead work on your own interpretation of the number.