The secret to mixed voice singing
We’ve all heard of “Chest Voice” and “Head Voice” – it’s easy to flip up from a heavy voice into a light voice for most people; but what about MIXED voice singing? Learning how to sing in MIXED voice will allow you to sing through your voice breaks with power and connection – vocal break exercises involving mixed/middle voice are the most effective way to connect your registers and do away with those pesky voice breaks.
Mixed Voice Singing is simple a different coordination for your vocal chords rather than “Full Length” or “Fully Shortened” – instead, your vocal chords “zip up” between these two registers and keep a connected, full resonance that bypasses your voice break and allows you to sing powerfully into your high range.
Here’s a few simple ways to build middle voice:
Projection – An excellent way to develop mixed voice singing is to “project” your voice from afar as you reach your voice breaks, allowing your chords to ‘zip up’ rather than FORCING them to lock into the chest voice coordination.
Classroom Voice – If you imagine trying to get the attention of the back-row of kids in a classroom, in a pleasant but assertive voice (you can’t YELL at them, nor can you whisper!), you’ll actually find a powerful tone that sits in your upper middle range. Classroom voice is my personal favourite way to demonstrate mixed voice singing to my students.
I’ve put together a super simple tutorial on building a mixed voice singing register with ease:
By connecting your chest voice and head voice with mixed voice singing, you are essentially opening up your vocal palate to a whole new range of colors and registers – allowing you to sing almost ANYTHING you could even want, or need to sing! Learning how to sing in mix voice will allow you to build a much more powerful and extensive vocal range, and reach your singing goals MUCH sooner.
Chest voice = Full Length vocal chords
Known as our ‘low’ range, chest voice is often the richest part of the range, at least for most Men. The problem lies in dexterity, range and control – while most guys can sing in a convincing Chest Voice, they start to push into their mid section and completely lose control of their voices past their first vocal break.
Head voice = Fully shortened vocal chords
Head voice is the ‘high’ range where most Women naturally sing most comfortably, with a light and free quality, pure head voice often lacks the depth or colour and richness required for singing anything other than the lightest and quietest songs.
Middle voice = Everything in between!
That’s right, you CAN learn how to connect chest voice and head voice by building your middle register, know as “Mix” voice. Middle voice is that POWERFUL and PROFESSIONAL singing tone that you hear your favourite singers resonating in with ease. It does take some time to build your middle voice, but using the singing tips of Projection and “Classroom voice” we discussed earlier, you’ll be resonating in your middle register in no time.
Learn these proper singing techniques to build your MIX
A singing technique is only as good as the adjoining techniques that support your voice – a powerful mix isn’t much use if you’re not singing with vocal placement, nor is breath support if you aren’t singing your vowels in the right way. Make sure you learn these proper singing techniques so that you can learn how to sing in mix voice with ease
Twang – By narrowing the very top of the epiglottis, known as “Twang”, you will amplify your resonance by adding a touch of pharyngeal resonance to your tone. Learning to control twang properly will allow you to sing LOUD without the slightest effort – it also sounds KILLER for rock singing to add a little twang, just like Chris Cornell, Layne Staley, Robert Plant and David Coverdale do!
Vowel tuning – Learning to tune your resonance properly is an important skill you’ll need to learn if you want to learn how to sing higher than ever before. It’s a simple concept, narrowing or widening the vocal tract to make the best use of your resonance as you ascend through the ‘difficult’ sections of your voice like your first break and your passaggio. Make sure you book a session with me to learn how to tune your vowels properly!
Placement – Vocal Placement is the intent of limiting excess frequencies that occur below your top teeth. Unrelated to “Masque” technique which it is often mistaken for, Vocal Placement allows you to resonate efficiently and with very little effort. Not only will singing be easier, you will be able to build a much STRONGER voice by limiting your frequency band in this manner – a small placement equals a HUGE voice!
Support – Learning the right way to SUPPORT your voice with breath support can make or break your high range. Support involves extension of the diaphragm to increase air pressure while limiting air flow itself. I’ve released quite a few free singing lessons online over at the BVS YouTube channel, so make sure you check out the video below for a great way to support your voice!
Now, this visual approach of “full length chords” works wonders for many singers, but as we all have a unique approach to learning, it’s important to understand that the MIDDLE register is simply a coordination between the muscles responsible for chest voice and those that create head. Chest voice is ultimately allowed by the Thyroarytenoid muscles, known as “TA”, and head voice is created by stretching of the “CT” or Cricothyroid muscle. If you learn how to coordinate your TA and CT muscles, you will have access to the central coordination known as MIX voice, and you will be able to sing with the rich depth of Chest with the extensive range of Head.
Are you a master of mixed voice singing? If you’re ready to POWER UP your middle voice and fix those voice breaks once and for all, you can book a session with me now and I’ll show you how it’s done!
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.