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Country Vocals Lessons: Working in Modal

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do some work in the register
in which we live.
We occupy most of our time,
we are occupied in our modal voice.
That's the register of our voice,
that's closest to our speaking voice,
our speaking register, and as singers,
we use that register all the time to sing.
We also change our resonance
depending on where we are in
our register as we move
higher to higher registers.
We have to change our resonance in
order to accomplish higher notes
in that register and we can hear
the change in tone as we change and
adjust our resonance to get up
into what we call head voice.
The vocal folds are behaving
essentially the same.
They're doing the same basic action, and
what we're doing as we move from chest
to head voice is actually changing in
very subtle, well sometimes dramatic,
ways, the resonance of
the sound that we're producing.
So one thing that a lot of
singers are concerned about
when they are working in their chest and
head voice, is trying to
make that transition smooth and
not have what we would call a break.
You don't want to have a break
when you move from your chest
voice to your head voice.
A break sounds like
a dramatic change in tone.
And it can actually also sound like your
voice just broke, like it stopped working.
You can be giving good airflow
as you're singing higher and
higher in your chest voice.
And you can just reach a point where you
just kind of quit like you just can't make
a sound anymore.
Your voice just stops on you.
That's a marker of where
your break lies right now.
[COUGH] What we're gonna be working on
is identifying where that break is.
And then, recognizing ways that
you can control your resonance.
To safely and
helpfully make that break go away,
that break sound,
that dramatic difference in tone,
you're gonna try to smooth that out so
that you have a more smooth
transition between these
different parts of your voice.
So right now, we're just gonna
explore our chest voice a little bit.
We're gonna do a little exercise
here where we explore our
chest voice on some simple,
easy, five note scales.
Moving up a little bit at
a time in preparation for
examining that upper limit,
that kind of where the break or
where the transition needs to happen
from our chest voice to our head voice.
So we're gonna start on
an A below middle C and
just sing five note scales
together on the val E.
Make sure you've got a nice mountain
pose bass symmetrical your
tailbone is slightly tuck.
Your abdominals are engaged
gonna roll your shoulder back,
make sure that your neck
controllers are completely relaxed.
This is very focused and intense work.
So you wanna make sure that you're
instrument is completely relaxed
everywhere that isn't absolutely
necessary to be engaged.
Your vocal chords are working,
your breathing mechanism is
gonna be working really hard.
So make sure the rest of your body
is relaxed so you're not wasting
any energy or resources on anything but
the production of sound.
Exhale with your shoulders relaxed,
you're gonna take a nice deep full breath.
Fill those lungs,
feel that diaphragm contract and drop,
Sing with me.
Keep your tongue forward.
[SOUND] Engaging those lower abdominal so
that as you're breathing out,
as you're exhaling.
You wanna stay in your chest
voice with that nice strong tone.
now at the top of my chest voice register.
If I want to maintain a good tone,
as I move into these higher notes.
I have to make sure that I have lots
of air support and as I get into
the higher notes I have to make sure
that I open the back of my throat.
Think about the yawner.
Feel my throat,
the back of my throat opening and
my larynx dropping and staying relaxed.
That's what I want to sense as
I get into these higher notes.
Now I have opened my throat as far as I
can as I'm hitting those top notes.
Now I'm gonna open up to an from
the same starting position.
And I really wanna feel
the back of my throat opening,
and my tongue going forward.
I can feel the air spinning up into
the back of my throat as I
open my resonance cavity,
my throat and my soft palate,
all expanding as if I were yawning.
One more time with me.
>> Again,
if anything hurts you wanna stop
right away, nothing should hurt,
you don't wanna grab with your vocal
cords, you don't wanna grab with your
neck or your larynx,
you wanna keep all of this relaxed.
And just sense the change
in your resonance cavity.
Another good way to really tap into how
easy it is to access the top of your chest
voice is to in a healthy mode, shout.
Sometimes when I'm prepping for
a song that I know has a lot
of really high money notes,
those power belting notes at the top of my
chest voice, I'll do my normal warm-ups.
And then, in order to engage my
breathing mechanism my air support,
and my residence for
those particular notes.
I will actually shout to find those notes.
They're part of my speaking register,
I just don't use it that often.
But a shout naturally takes me there.
Nice big intake of air.
I'm not grabbing with my throat.
I'm focusing a lot of air up into my mask,
behind my eyes.
I actually feel the resonance
behind my eyes.
This is not hurting my vocal folds at all.
This is in their natural
speaking register, modal voice.
Where you can hurt yourself is in
grabbing with your neck and throat.
I actually included a glottal,
In that shout.
That's where you can hurt yourself,
you can actually cause
calluses to spring up on your vocal folds.
If you are grabbing and
forcing them together improperly.
But you can healthfully shout
pretty high and pretty loud.
Hey, hey.
That's actually a C a high C, hey.
So if you can hear,
I'm not grabbing with my throat,
I am forcing a lot of air
using my breathing mechanism.
Hey, hey.
That's a D.
That's a high D, a D above middle C.
An octave above middle D.
And that's where those money notes lie.
This is all about muscle memory.
And practice, practice, practice.
Listen and practice.
Always keeping in mind
nothing should hurt.
Let's play around
with our head voice now.
We've done a little bit of
experimenting and listening,
playing with our chest voice.
And this is a single register
with two modes of resonance,
really, is how we should think about it.
Our modal register is
our speaking register.
Our chest voice is the part of our
speaking register that we sing in with
a particular kind of resonance or
placement that sounds like it's
more coming from our chest.
We're using the same register for
head voice, but
we're shaping the tone differently,
so it sounds different.
I'm gonna sing,
A G above middle C,
first in my chest voice,
just full chest register voice, and
then I'm gonna shift the resonance
slightly to put it in my head voice.
That's chest.
Lots of power,
lots of clear pure tone, but
with a little bit of an edge.
Now, I'm gonna sing that same note.
Also in my modal register,
my speaking register, but
I'm gonna shift the resonance
to put it in my head voice.
Same note, a little softer tone.
Our perception of head voice is
that it's got a little bit rounder,
possibly more open tone than
the edge of your chest.
They both have a lot of power,
you can project a lot in your
modal register whether you're
using your chest resonance or
your head resonance.
I'll go up a step.
Chest voice.
Now here it is in head voice.
vocal folds are behaving
essentially the same.
And I'm using all of my breathing
apparatus basically the same,
making sure that I have lots
of good air to work with, but
I am shifting the resonance from,
Lower down in my jaw.
I can feel the resonance more in my
jaw and the bottom part of my face and
when I go into head voice,
I feel it more higher in my head.
We refer to it as head voice mostly
because that's where singers feel
that resonance.
But again, the vocal folds
are behaving essentially the same.
All we're doing is shifting
the subtle variations of shape and
size of our resonant cavities
inside our heads, throats,
soft palate to color the tone
slightly differently.
So your chest and
your head voice overlap for several notes.
There are some notes, as you get up into,
In my chest voice,
I can do full chest voice down here.
That's all chest voice, but
I am shifting my resonance
slightly on those top notes,
remember the yawn or
to open a little more resonance.
And give it some space so
that I'm not clamping with my throat.
But in my head voice I've got,
Even more notes up higher because I'm
shifting the resonance, it takes
the pressure off of my vocal cords to
try to compensate to
make those high notes.
You can't tighten up enough
to hit those high notes so
that's when you wanna
switch into head voice.