What Is Mixed Voice? (How To Find Mix Voice)
Mixed voice, or Middle Voice as it’s commonly known, refers to two parts of the voice – a blend of resonance between chest and head voice, and also in a physical sense where the vocal mechanism makes a switch between vocal fold weight and vocal fold tension – created by the TA and CT muscles respectively. If you’ve been looking for how to find mix voice or wondering exactly what IS mixed voice, then this tutorial will answer all of your mix voice questions and more!
As I often remind my own students, your singing voice will only ever be as strong as the foundation it has been built upon. Foundation in singing includes the base elements of the voice from vowels, breathing and posture right through to placement and onsets. A great place to start with a strong foundation is the free Foundation 101 singing course available here at Bohemian Vocal Studio which will set you up with a rock solid foundation and allow you to find mix voice easily!
Lets get started with how to find mix voice.
What is mixed voice?
Mixed voice is the central connection between chest and head voice, in essence a blend of both types of low and high resonance that you associate with your low and high range. In a mechanical sense, middle voice requires coordination between multiple elements of the vocal mechanism – from appropriate resonant space, through to a fluid connection between the weight/tension tradeoff in the vocal folds themselves.
Mixed voice is immediately identifiable in professional singers who sing with a powerful and rich high range that lacks the push and depth of chest, but isn’t a weak or ‘breathy’ head voice like you will often hear in an inexperienced singer, or if you’re a beginner yourself – your own falsetto range. I personally like to illustrate middle voice in a number of different ways depending on my student’s needs and voice type – either with a visual tool like projection, or even in a directly tonal sense by encouraging a pleasant and assertive tone sometimes called ‘classroom voice’.
Imagine the voice you would use as a teacher in a classroom full of kids trying to get the attention of the back row of children. You don’t want to YELL at them (they’ll cry!), but you also don’t want to be MEEK (they’ll eat you alive!) – instead you should be both pleasant but assertive in the same motion. Imagine saying “Okay everyone, over here!” in a firm but nurturing tone. Using this tone is a very effective way to jump-start the process of finding mix voice. When you master this tone, you’ll notice that it magically connects to both chest and head voice and can act as a central ‘swivel’ point between your two registers when you sing an scale or song.
The Projection Method
This is another of my own personal favourite methods to help students trying to find mix voice. Instead of thinking about forward ‘projection’ of your voice away from the body, instead focus on the idea that your voice is being projected BACK to you from a far-away point, like the corner of the room or end of the hall. If you set your focus on this idea as you ascend through the middle portion of your voice, it’s highly likely you will naturally achieve the same tone as ‘classroom voice’ even without the intention to do so – congratulations, this is your mix!
How to find mix voice
One of the most powerful methods to find mix voice is to identify where your chest resonance occurs, and where your head resonance occurs. It’s likely the focal point of your chest voice will either be in your chest, your mouth, your teeth, and your head resonance will lie in the very back of your head in the pharynx. The secret key to find mix voice is to achieve a blend of these two separate areas of resonance through the center of your range. Set your intention on resonating in BOTH head and chest as you ascend instead of ‘handing off’ between the two in your middle range and you’ll find mix voice much easier than a thousand “Ma Ma Ma Ma” exercises could ever achieve. The best way to find mix voice is in a figurative sense first, with the ‘idea’ that there is a third register between your chest and head voice – this is often why your mix is called “The Middle Voice”.
Learning how to alter the balance between chest and head like a gradient, or a graphic EQ is the true key to singing with an effective and powerful mix voice. From this point you can develop mix voice in any way you like from a stylistic sense, whether you prefer a chesty mix or a more balanced and natural tone – the secret is support and blending resonance. Many singers get hung up on singing as high as they can in chest voice, inadvertently creating an imbalance in their mix that leads to a WEAK voice rather than the strong and powerful tone they wish to create. Starting neutral and natural is the best way to develop mix voice while retaining control, balance and consistency when you sing.
How to Develop mix voice
Once you’ve achieved a balance between chest and head voice, you can start to use your mix voice in various ways to either facilitate connection with your high range, or create a powerful belt register by skewing the balance towards vocal fold weight and chest resonance instead of a natural balance between chest and head.
Remember, singing is an act of balance rather than an muscular feat – any form of imbalance you create in your voice will affect your ability to sing in other parts of your range or the tone with which you attain past your chesty mix or heady mix. I personally like to develop mix voice in a natural way for each of my students, and when they’re competent and comfortable with middle voice singing, give them the tools and guidance to then build their voice in the way they personally desire.
Middle Voice Singing
Anyone making use of healthy vocal technique will make use of their mix register, as after all, chest and head voice are simply two sides of the same voice, not two separate voices. If you’re already capable of connecting chest and head voice, then you’re already singing through the mix without realising, even on rudiments like a lip trill or humming. Putting excess importance on a ‘secret’ register will only make singing a more frustrating and lengthy process instead of the easy and rewarding experience it truly should be. Your natural voice is a mix voice – have you managed to find mix voice?
If you’re ready to take your voice to the next level by discovering your mix voice and developing a powerful middle register, you can book a Skype Lesson with me and we’ll start extending your range while building control, balance and consistency in your voice EVERY time you sing!
If you have any questions about middle voice singing or developing mix voice, 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.