How To Sing A Mixed Voice Note
For many singers, mixed voice is the ‘holy grail’ of great singing technique. By blending the low resonance with chest voice with head voice, you can achieve the rich depth of chest while accessing the extensive range allowed by head voice. Mixed voice, or middle voice as it’s commonly known has more to do with resonance focus than it does with the physical mechanism of vocal fold weight and vocal fold tension. This tutorial will show you how to sing a mixed voice note that makes use of the efficient resonance associated with chest voice, while also allowing you to access the full potential of your high range,
Keeping this in mind, mixed voice doesn’t really exist in a ‘physical’ sense regarding the vocal mechanism, but in a resonant sense absolutely exists in the form of blending resonance between chest and head voice. Are you ready to learn how to sing a mixed voice note so you connect chest and head voice with a powerful and resonant tone? Lets get started.
Foundation is key
Vocal foundation involves posture, breathing, placement and resonance – all part of healthy vocal approach. In singing, your foundation really acts in the same way the foundation of a house works. Foundation in singing really does create the concrete base that your vocal range will be built upon. By setting up your posture first; head up, shoulders back, chin parallel with the floor while keeping a proud chest, you ensure that you make the most efficient use of your diaphragm when you sing.
The diaphragm itself is a large, dome-like muscle that sits between your abdomen and the chest cavity. When you engage and lower the diaphragm, you create a negative space (like a vacuum!) that instantly fills with pressurised air. By retaining this pressurised air instead of allowing pure airflow, you will create a resonant sound that is formed via vibration of the vocal folds, the initiation of so is often called a vocal onset.
Vocal onsets occurs as a central balance between vocal fold closure and release of air pressure. The only vocal onset that you should develop as a habit in your singing voice is a balanced onset, where vocal fold closure and airflow occur in a simultaneous fashion, or balance, that creates instant resonance without strain. A great sound to practice balanced onsets with is an EE vowel, one of the small vowels that involves minimal air pressure and compression. While practising onsets on a larger vowel like OH or AH, it can help to sing a light EE sound first, like EE-EH, or EE-AH (YAH) so that you are forming a healthy habit of balancing your onset.
Balanced onsets thwart strain and tension in many ways in a healthy vocal approach. Learning how to balance your onset can be a life-changing experience for many singers. A great way to practice balancing your onset is to practice a crescendo on a small vowel sound like EE or OO. The essence of a balance onset is actually the central portion of an onset – neither the breathy initial portion now the closed heavy sound at the finale of the crescendo. Practice a crescendo first, then aim to start your sound “in the middle” of the crescendo for a balanced onset that occurs with simultaneous vocal fold closure and release of air pressure. A vocal onset will provide you with great vocal fold closure, efficient resonance and a great start for learning how to sing a mixed voice note.
What is Mixed Voice?
Mix voice is a central balance of resonance from both chest and head voice. That’s right, it’s possible to connect your two main registers while blending the resonance we associate with both our low and high range. Learning how to sing a mix voice note requires you to develop your vowels properly, including the shape of your tongue and resonant space. Mixed voice has a specific tonal quality, one you can probably already identify in a professional singer – pleasant but assertive and powerful. Many beginner singers focus on whether they are singing in chest, or in head voice, without consideration as to using both registers in a connected way like the pros do – this is the essence of how to sing a mix voice note.
Mixed Voice takes time to develop, but there are a few tips and tricks that will help you discover your mix while singing through the middle portion of your voice. A great singing voice is a mixed singing voice. Here’s 5 tips for learning how to sing a mix voice note:
#1 – Chest Voice doesn’t equal power
The reason why many singers try to ‘pull’ their chest voice higher than is naturally intended isn’t actually because of chest voice itself, it’s because they enjoy the efficient resonance that often features in the chest register in even the most underdeveloped voice. The key to extending your range is learning how to treat your registers like a gradient instead of an “on/off” switch. As you ascend in range, you need to tune into your head resonance while slowly tuning out your low frequencies. Chest Voice itself doesn’t equal power, it simply equals efficient resonance – the same efficient resonance that can, and should be built in your head and mix register with proper vocal training and consistent practice!
#2 – Chest is a contraction, Head is tension
From a physical perspective of the vocal mechanism itself rather than just purely chest and head resonance, the extremes of your low and high register can be attributed to the Vocalis and CT muscles respectively, which cause either vocal fold contraction (Vocalis/TA), or vocal fold tension (CT). Learning how to swing between these two physical aspects of the mechanism will give you greater control over your middle range while providing you will connection between the registers. Learning to differentiate between the sensation of contraction or tension is a key point to singing a mix voice note.
#3 – Mix is pleasant, but not weak
Mix voice itself will retain some of the rich depth associated with the chest register, while allowing the extensive range associated with head voice. Mix voice is ultimately “part chest, part head” instead of a third register in itself. Learn to blend your resonance through the middle portion of your range for a powerful mix voice note.
#4 – Head strength is key
To achieive a powerful and extensive chesty-sounding mix voice, it’s imperative that you develop your head register and learn to allow head resonance in your lower register instead of trying to ‘drag’ chest as high as possible. Developing strength and control in your head register is key to building your mix voice – many beginner singers avoid their head register because they don’t like the tone, but strengthening your high range in this manner is the BEST way to build a strong and connected voice that extends from your lowest chest voice note through to your highers head voice note. Mix is a powerful tool that every singer should have access to!
#5 – Perception is perfection
Many of the most common issues that singers experience have more to do with perception and the psychological process of singing rather than any physical limitation or issue in their vocal mechanism. Understanding that chest and head voice are simply two forms of resonance rather than ‘muscles’ will alter your perception of mix voice greatly. Another common issue with intermediate singers in particular is the intent of building a ‘chesty mix’ – meaning that they try to sing as high as possible in chest voice before accessing their mix. There’s just one problem with this approach, mix voice requires both head and chest resonance – that’s right, a powerfully ‘chesty’ mix actually involves partially resonating in head voice at the same time as your chest voice, not just a stretched or pulled chest before access your mix. Perception really can make or break your voice.
Singing itself is a very simply process of facilitating and manipulating resonance, but learning HOW to do it well can be a frustrating task. This is in part due to all the conflicting information out there, along with big-ego YouTube coaches who state their opinions as though they are fact. A powerful mix voice isn’t a pulled chest voice – they are in fact unrelated. At the end of the day, we are ALL different, and the process we need to take to build our voices will likely differ to many other singers. There really is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to singing, your voice is ultimately unique and so should your approach to singing be unique and tailored to your individual voice, strengths, weaknesses, voice type, accent and many other variables that really can make learning how to sing a much more difficult process than it really needs to be. Is your vocal method tailored to your unique voice?
A great place to start is the free foundation 101 singing course available here at BVS, which will show you how to build a rock solid foundation that your range and tone will be built upon. Your singing voice will only ever be as strong as your foundation, so make sure you understand the basics and foundation elements of the voice before developing your mix voice. When you’re ready to take your voice to the next level with professional voice coaching that is tailored to your unique voice and the individual issues you might face with your voice type and natural range, you’re welcome to book a Skype Lesson with me and we’ll work towards extending your range and building control and consistency in your voice every time you sing.
If you have any questions about how to sing a mix voice note, 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.