What Is Mix Voice?
Mix voice, or “middle voice” is that ever elusive tone that your favourite singers seem to use with very little effort, powerful high notes that aren’t ‘weak’ like yours may be, and still with a super rich low end that seems smooth as butter. But what is mix voice?
Mix voice is a central coordination between the muscles responsible for head voice and those that allow chest voice. Your chest voice is created by engagement of the thyroarytenoid muscle (TA), in essence thickening your vocal chords. Your head voice is allowed by a stretch in the cricothyroid muscle (CT), and results in thinner chords. Your middle voice is a coordination between the thickness of chest with the stretch and length of head voice.
I’ll show you a few super simple mixed voice exercises and how to develop your mixed voice singing in this easy tutorial:
You see, middle voice isn’t a ‘trick’ or a ‘technique’, it’s actually the way your vocal chords are MEANT to be used, before we started throwing concepts like “Chest Voice” and “Belting” into the mix – not to mention our various accents, languages and voice types. With this simple tutorial you’ll be extending your range and building a powerful mix voice in no time at all!
Step 1 – Set up your foundation
By setting up a strong foundation, you ensure that your singing technique has a strong base for breathing, resonance placement and posture. A healthy singing voice relies on a healthy foundation, so make sure you sign up to our free foundations short courses to learn how to breathe using the diaphragm.
Step 2 – Shape your vowels
While we often pronounce our vowels in speaking, singing requires you to shape your vowels with your tongue and matching vocal tract width. A great example of a vowel shape is the concave tongue required for an AH vowel, or the raised back of the tongue in an EE vowel – nail these vowel shapes for consistent and powerful resonance no matter the word, song or range you’re singing in.
Step 3 – Tune your resonance
While each vowel has it’s own unique vocal tract width, such as the narrow width of an EE and wider AH shape, every vowel must allow for subtle changes in this general width as you ascend in range. This is the basis of vowel modification, where altering the character of your vowel allows for a wider or more narrow throat shape. Resonance tuning is especially important for developing an extensive and consistent vocal range.
Step 4 – Support
While diaphragmatic breathing is your foundation, breath support is how you prop up your high range and allow for the greatest ease in singing high notes. Support requires you to alter your air pressure and air flow to allow your vocal chords to vibrate at a higher frequency, allowing a more efficient resonance and brighter timbre.
Step 5 – Focus your placement
While our vocal chords are capable of creating a rather wide band of frequencies, not all the frequencies they vibrate at are efficient in a singing voice. Learning to place your frequencies properly will allow you to resonate in the most efficient and strong manner with little effort.
By coordinating the above steps with the other important aspects of a great singing voice like your onsets, consonant groups and your delivery will help you build a powerful singing voice that easily blends between registers while keeping the depth of your chest and range of your head voice.
Is Mix voice making more sense now that you know how to use all three vocal chord coordinations to access your full range? If you’re ready to improve your mix voice singing and develop your mix voice even further, you can book a session with me today and I’ll show you how to do it in your unique voice type!
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.