Head voice vs chest voice
Building an extensive vocal range requires a deep understanding of the mechanics of both Head Voice vs Chest Voice – if you’re locking your voice into either register, you’ll no doubt currently experience a vocal break that won’t budge no matter what you do. We’ve all head of Chest and Head, but did you know there is a third coordinated register called MIDDLE or MIX that occurs when you centrally blend these two main registers? Learning how to sing in mix voice is the only way to connect chest voice and head voice – it will also allow you to sing with power and free of any strain.
How do I connect Chest and Head voice?
Connecting Chest Voice vs Head Voice probably seems like a total mystery at the minute, but never fear! I’ve put together a super simple tutorial that explains not only your Chest Voice vs Head Voice, but also how to blend the two by singing in a powerful MIX voice:
Learning how to sing in a powerful MIX vocal chord coordination will not only allow you to connect Head Voice and Chest Voice, but also make head voice sound like chest voice – isn’t that super cool? If you follow my lead in the tutorial above, you’ll soon be matching the rich tone and powerful sound of your favourite singer’s voices – WITHOUT the need for pushing and straining. This central coordination can be used in any number of ways to alter the tone of your voice and allow you to sing with a gradient of power that can be as powerful as a roar or equally as sensitive, light and controlled.
Instead of thinking “Chest Voice vs Head Voice”, think about your voice as having THREE vocal registers, Chest Voice > Middle Voice > Head Voice. That pleasant and powerful tone that you hear in a truly great singer is always a Middle Coordination, because great singers have learned not to ‘lock’ their vocal chords in either the head or chest coordination, and just let their voices soar naturally through their full vocal range. That’s why they seem to sing higher, and higher, and higher – without so much as the slightest push or strain!
What is Chest Voice?
Chest voice is the rich and deep tone we often associate with speech and our lowest notes. The vocal chord thickness required for pure chest voice is created and allowed by engagement of the thyroarytenoid, or simply TA muscles. Often, Men with lower voice types over-activate the TA and have difficulty forming a coordination between these muscles responsible for chord thickness, with the CT muscles required for head voice.
What is Head Voice?
In turn, Head voice is a stretching of the vocal folds created and allowed by engagement of the cricothyroid, or CT muscles. Without coordination with the TA muscles, a pure CT engagement results in a very light airy tone which can be used for effect, but needs to be developed properly to allow extension of your range and connection with your full voice.
What is Falsetto?
Falsetto is an improper closure of the vocal folds, resulting in a harmonic overtone. Falsetto causes and allows excess airflow and puts your vocal chords at risk if overused – a well trained singing voice will lack a falsetto due to proper coordination of the different elements of the singing mechanism, from onsets, registers and frequency placement.
Top 5 tips for connecting Chest and Head Voice
With these five professional tips, you will be able to take the first steps towards connecting chest and head voice, and building a truly outstanding and connected range that is as expressive and powerful as it is extensive.
#1 – Develop your mix coordination
The first step to developing your middle voice is to engage and allow this coordination between head and chest, by way of not singing too heavy, while not fully flipping over into a light head register. Using the tutorial video above where I showed you a number of ways to engage your middle register – the more you practice and train this coordination, the sooner you will be able to connect your registers.
#2 – Support your voice (but don’t push!)
Healthy breath support for singing is often referred to as Appoggio – meaning to support or lean. Remember, there IS such a thing as too much support and pressure, so make sure you’ve set up a strong foundation for your voice first, and then add intensity step by step without going to far. A resonant and full sounding voice should be free of strain, confident and consistent. If you HAVE to push to hit a note, then you’re not accessing your high range in the right manner.
#3 – Balanced Onsets
In singing there are three possible onsets, a breathy onset where air passes your chords before closure, a glottal onset where you chords are closed shut before they’re reached by air flow, and then the only healthy onset is called a balanced onset where chord closure and airflow happen instantaneous at the perfect moment, leading to instant resonance without the need for force or aspiration of air.
#4 – Take it slow
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day – and your favourite singers likely weren’t “born” with the impressive voices you hear them singing with. Connecting chest and head voice takes time, perseverance and consistent practice. Make sure you’re not rushing ahead or singing too heavy before you understand how or why this is effecting or causing your vocal break.
#5 – Place your frequencies
Vocal placement is incredibly important in singing, and is often overlooked or taught incorrectly by even some of the best singing courses and coaches out there – placement requires you to LIMIT any excess frequencies from your initial singing tone when you warm up so that all your energy is going towards efficiently resonating frequencies and you’re not putting your voice under any undue strain before you fully understand how to connect and control your voice properly.
Learning how to connect chest and head voice is a simple pursuit of coordination and takes time, so make sure your vocal approach includes a way to balance your onset, access your middle coordination, place your frequencies and support your voice with Appoggio – as I often say to my students, a singing voice is only as strong as the foundation it’s built on.
The best middle voice exercises
My approach to middle voice is practical and simple to follow, and starts with register release, placement and various visual tools for releasing from the pure chest TA engagement we know as chest voice. By releasing your registers first, you inadvertently access your middle register as you ‘tip’ between chest and head. The easiest way to release your registers is to sing a lip trill and allow your sound to travel between the registers naturally without ‘catching’ or flipping at any point – if this means that you have to sing light, then sing light.
Secondly, I like to place my students voices using an NG or N sound with the tip of the tongue behind the top teeth and focus on relieving any improper frequencies that may be occurring in the throat or mouth, in essence, leaving your voice ‘placed’ above your top teeth.
When you’re ready to take your voice NEXT LEVEL with the naturally powerful middle voice coordination known as MIX voice, you can book a Skype Session and we can get started today!
Feel free to leave any feedback or questions below!
Kegan DeBoheme is Bohemian Vocal Studio’s resident vocal coach and voice expert. He teaches professional singing and voice technique to students all around the world and enjoys providing tutorials like this one on how to improve your voice.