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ArtistWorks Vocal School Lessons: Head Voice, Chest Voice - What’s it All about?

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You may have heard the terms
head voice and chest voice.
If you haven't, you are lucky.
Any singer who has ever come to me
thinking that they have a head voice and
a chest voice and they have to figure out
how to maneuver between them, has extra
confusion and extra problems, because
those thoughts generate barriers.
As a result, I don't use those terms.
But let's straighten it out, so that if
you have been told about it,
if this is how you think about your voice
or if you ever run into it in the future,
you won't get tripped up by it.
Here's the history behind those terms.
Hundreds of years ago, which I was just
talking about a little,
they didn't have any terms to describe the
And they were first coming up with
terminology to use.
Any subject has its own terminology.
Also, they had no clue what was going on
inside the body when singing.
So they had no basis of physiological fact
to do, to develop their wording.
What they did have was sensation.
So they found that when singing from a
certain note down,
there was more of a sensation of vibration
in the chest and
they figured they would call that range of
notes chest voice.
Similarly, from a certain note higher.
They felt more vibration in the head area
and in the sinuses in the top of mouth.
So simply, they just called that span of
notes the head voice.
Just so they would have something to say
to direct a person in
terms of where they wanted them to sing.
That’s all it meant.
They, again, didn't know how the vocal
folds worked to accomplish higher notes or
lower notes.
And certainly there is some change that
goes on
with those muscles as we've already
You can always refer back to that video
lesson to check, check this and
it might be a good idea to do so.
To, at this time to go back to that,
those series of lessons that have to do
with the physiology of the voice.
So that as we're disentangling any
you can again match it up to the
particulars of the body.
And see how what I'm telling you to
straighten out confusions and
fact, really does marry itself with those
physical facts.
So, you might wonder, why it is when
you're singing from
low to, here's the unfortunate terms low
and high.
But as you go up your range, there may be
a break or
a place where your voice is weaker.
And if that's so, you might think that,
that in and of itself
makes the terms head and chest voice a
reliable way of thinking.
They're still not reliable.
So what is that break all about?
That is, considered by, the classical
realm you may have
come across this, it's called, they call
the passagio, which means passage way.
As though there's these two sections of
voice and then there's this little bridge,
or you have to learn how to bridge between
one and the other and
it gets very complicated, and it gets very
manipulative muscularly and thought wise.
I prefer, first of all, to think of range
as a playground and
as we expand yours, you will hopefully
feel the same way.
So, it's just the lowest note to the
highest note.
What's the width of range that you have to
work with, and
then you play with the sounds within it.
The physiological reason for that little
break area has
more to do with too much effort of air
being pushed against the vocal folds.
And so they're vibrating and they're
vibrating and they're getting like,
if you're thinking, I have to reach or I
have to push up to make sound.
That's going to trigger the body to push
more air out,
to serve the way you're thinking.
So, that pressure, there's a resistance
it's kind of that air is sort of pushing
the whole vocal fold unit up a bit.
Now, as you sing higher,
the vocal folds actually need to tilt a
little down into the center of the throat.
The back end goes down a little bit.
It's not like this, but it's just teeny
teeny little degrees so
that they can stretch more, thin out more
and vibrate faster.
If you have the wrong amount of air, which
will always be too much,
pressing against your vocal folds, they
have a real difficult time going down.
So, if you still insist that you continue
singing up your range,
something has to let go, so that they can
go and the grip around them res,
as they resist that air pressure, suddenly
There's a sudden cessation, is the word,
which means a stopping of vibration in the
That's that little blank area or crack or
flip, and they re-position, and
then your voice suddenly sounds stronger
and, and
okay again, maybe not as full as you want
it to be, which we'll develop.
But that's the, that's the cause of having
register break.
And giving us a sense of having two
sections of voice.
So by using the rib cage expansion
You begin step-by-step to get a naturally
regulation of air that matches the needs
of the vocal folds.
So that there's no extra pressure.
And we begin exercising them
to do the different changes that they are
born to do for you.
And get it so that it can occur really
And at that point there's no break.
There's no head and chest, it's just range
to use for your freedom of expression.
We're real close to getting into vocal
exercises, and
I'm very excited to do it with you.