Understanding Head Voice|Chest Voice|Middle Voice

  • August 28, 2019

What Are Vocal Registers?

Head voice, chest voice, and middle voice are terms that come up from time to time,  whether you are taking voice lessons or you are researching the subject of singing.  These are better known as vocal registers which make up the difference in tones produced by the human voice in varied ranges.

We use certain areas from our chest through to the head to increase pitch and change the tone of the sounds we make. These are not to be confused with singing voice types which are used to categorize voices based on certain criteria such as age, range, voice strength and other factors.

  • What is Falsetto? It is also known as the false voice. It is another vocal register that males generally use to reach notes beyond their normal vocal range. Although it may allow for higher pitches, it tends to sound weaker and lacks substance.                                                

What is Chest Voice?

The chest voice is the heavier sound in the lower part of your voice. This is normally where the majority of the speaking voice occurs which is why many describe this as the most “natural” register.  Generally speaking, the tone in the chest voice tends to be darker, and has a weightier, more powerful tone than the other registers. Placing your hand on your chest and making a simple AH sound in a low voice with plenty of volume to be clear. Can you feel the vibration? This is because the sound is resonating in your chest and mouth.

It is interesting to know that the chest voice has the greatest potential for vocal strength out of all the different registers. The chest voice is often used to project with a lower and stronger pitch like when we yell, speaking from a stage, or in some cases when belting.

How to sing better in chest voice. You want to first familairize yourself with your chest voice which in fact is easy to to do. Start by just use your speaking voice. Try to eliminate the breathiness in your voice. Say the word "hey" like your yelling at someone across the room. Can you feel where the sound is coming from? It should be felt more in the chest then up in the head. Think of yourself in singing in a confident and assertive manner rather than a weak and overly breathy. This takes focus and confidence. Sing the notes with purpose and direction. Resist the urge to sing directly into your head because you feel the need to switch from speaking voice to singing.

What is Head voice?

The head voice is your higher singing voice register which consists of a bright tone that is focused on resonance in bones and cavities of your face and head. Quite simply we use the head voice to reach higher notes whether male or female. In order for you to sing in your head voice, you need to create an open up the space in the back of your throat.  Keeping in mind that the higher notes that you sing, the vibrations of resonance will shift and cause your breath to speed up and your vocal cords to open and close faster.

How to work on your head voice. It is important that you learn to maximize the natural spacing in your face in order to create the sounds you want. You'll also want to avoid confusing head voice with a breathy voice. An easy way to ensure this is to use the phrase Uh-Oh. When we do this we close the vocal folds and create a sharper and clearer sound by not allowing excess air to escape. It is also important that you focus on articulating your vowels and consonates when working on your head voice. 

  • What is Vocal Fry? This is the absolute lowest of the vocal registers. The vocal folds are compressed and tend to vibrate irregularily as air passes through them, making a low rattling sound described as the creaky voice.                           

What is Middle Voice?

Your middle voice or mix voice is the part that falls between and blends both the chest voice and head voice. You may think of it as a bridge that connects the two. Depending whether you are singing from low to high or high to low, you will cross the middle voice as you transisition between registers. This can often be one of the most difficult concepts for beginning singers. Striking the balance in finding the ideal combination of the two registers might be compared to adjusting sound system with just the right mix of bass and treble. It takes training and practice to adjust the levels of bright and dark tones, through resonance and blending of the vocal registers, along with beng in-tune with your register breaks in order to find the middle voice.

How to work on middle voice.  There are a few simple tricks that can help to develop your middle voice when singing. If you have a basic keyboard you can play basic scales and sing along as you play. The key is to find the lowest notes you can sing and work up the scales from there. Remember to take your time and really focus on keeping your transitions clean and smooth  while maintaining good tone. Be sure to record your sessions as you can reveiw them and hear where you can make adjustments.