As you embark on your journey as a vocalist and begin adult singing lessons, you may come across some terms that you’ve never heard of before. Many of us are aware of vocal ranges like alto, soprano, tenor, bass, however, the way your individual voice behaves can also be split into different sections. The most talked about are head voice vs chest voice. What’s the difference between the two and do you really use different parts of your body to tap into them? Keep on reading to find out how you can use head and chest voice to your advantage as a vocalist.
How Do We Produce Sound in Head Voice vs Chest Voice?
The terms ‘head voice’ and ‘chest voice’ can be very misleading. No matter which part of your range you are using, you always produce the sound using your vocal cords, the soft tissue folds located in the larynx. These terms refer to where vibrations are felt, which help you to discern between head voice and chest voice.
What’s Chest Voice?
Chest voice refers to our lower register and it often feels the easiest and most comfortable to access as it is the same range we use for our speech. The chest voice utilises thicker vocal cords to produce lower pitch, similar to guitar strings. As we sing in this register, vibrations are typically felt in our chest, hence its name. While the chest voice may feel comfortable and easy to access, some vocalists struggle with giving it the power to tap into the richness of those lower tones. It can be tricky to get a good volume out of your chest voice, so regular practice will help you tap into that range in a comfortable, relaxed way.
What’s Head Voice?
Your head voice, on the other hand, will utilise thinner vocal cords and allow you to tap into the higher range of your voice. Here the sound will be brighter, more metallic and the vibrations will be felt in your head, which is why it is referred to as such. Developing a good breath support is crucial for tapping into a powerful head voice. It may feel less natural to access than your chest voice, however, in time, it can really open a wider range and help you grow into a more dexterous, versatile vocalist.
Is Head Voice The Same as Falsetto?
Many singers confuse head voice with falsetto and, while there are similarities, they are not quite the same. Your head voice uses a closed phonation of the vocal cords, meaning they are pressed together, creating a characteristically metallic, bright sound. Falsetto, on the other hand, requires more breath to pass through. Using this breathy phonation, you will instead get a lush, flute-like tone that sounds emotive and intimate.
Essentially, falsetto is part of your head voice range, however, all head voice is not falsetto.
When Head Voice vs Chest Voice Mix?
There is another register between your head voice and chest voice which is called the mixed voice. That transitional point where your vocal moves from head to chest can create a very powerful tone and makes for smooth, confident tonal changes. Here, the balance of the airflow in your vocal cords is neither too tight nor breathy, resulting in a rich, strong sound. Working on mixing your head and chest voice will lead to some exciting possibilities and more freedom in your singing!
What Does It All Mean?
So, why do we need to understand the differences between head, chest, mixed and falsetto registers? And what do they mean for you, as a vocalist?
Pick Songs That Suit Your Range
Well, firstly getting to know your vocal range will help you get in touch with how it works way beyond knowing how high or low you can reach. This understanding will make it much easier to pick songs that suit your vocal range well and highlight the best qualities of it. It will also let you easily adapt different arrangements, for example, if you wanted to sing certain parts in falsetto range and adapt particular phrases to tap into your powerful mixed register.
Strengthen and Improve Your Vocal
Secondly, understanding and feeling the difference between head, chest, mixed and falsetto range will help you apply correct technique to make the most out of your sound. Once you feel how the vibrations transition through your body, understand how your voice engages with each register, you will be able to strengthen every part of the range, without straining or damaging your vocal cords. It will also make transitioning through your vocal range smooth and effortless.
Apply Dynamics and Emotion
Last, but by no means least, you’ll be able to apply these techniques for a more dynamic performance. Leaning into your mixed register for powerful notes, head voice for brighter sounds and falsetto for moments of vulnerability and to create intimacy, for example. Understanding how the different registers work for your voice will also aid your songwriting, helping you really connect with and deliver the lyrics to your audience with the right expression.
Learn to Make The Most of Your Voice With London Singing Institute!
At London Singing Institute, we specialise in delivering adult singing lessons in a welcoming, non-judgmental and environment. No matter where you are on your journey, our expert coaches will take an individual approach to help you sound your best. We use years of industry knowledge to teach you the techniques used by world-class professionals, ensuring the safety and longevity of your voice. Our lessons are tailored to suit everyone – whether you wish to learn privately, within a group or take one of our intensive courses to prepare for that special performance or project. We teach all popular styles, including classical, musical theatre, pop, blues, rock and jazz. For your comfort, we can teach at our stunning London premises or online, wherever you are in the world. Get in touch today to find out more!
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, singing technique
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