Friday, June 26, 2009

Head Voice, Chest Voice, Belt Voice oh MY!

Friday musing with my coffee...

It occurred to me as I was working with one of my uber-talented singers yesterday, that these terminologies of "voice" especially within music theatre have begun to micro-manage the voice, or at least try to.

Terminology is thrown around without real understanding of what it MEANS.  In music theatre, it becomes ridiculously so, to the detriment of the singer. 

What if we were just concerned about singing with OUR OWN VOICES and concerned with presenting what WE do well instead of mimicking/imitating a voice that has come before? What has happened with rejoicing in the INDIVIDUALITY of voice?

This takes KNOWLEDGE AND GUTS.  Go get some of BOTH!!!

Head voice/chest voice/mix has to do with resonators.  Where does the voice primarily vibrate? If ALL the resonators remain open, the voice can find the optimum resonance no matter what.  The entire voice should be "mixed" - in other words, accessible to all resonators.  It can be mixed differently, depending on the pitch/vowel choice/color choice.  If we allow the language and the style to inform the choices, and the resonators are always suspended, then the voice can find its fullest and most vivid choices, and its REALITY.

We need to CLAIM our voices fully.  Doing that takes time, guts, and KNOWLEDGE.  We must recognize the terminology that is thrown around loosely, and find out what it TRULY means, and then what it means coming from certain segments of our business.  Believe me, it doesn't mean the same thing!!! 

I will simplify: if you find the TRUTH of your voice - and build it to find VITALITY and ENERGY and develop PRESENCE of INTENSITY of resonance - the true VIBRANCY of the voice when it is balance - you can then present the BEST of you - through ANY style/genre that you choose to explore.  

When you find that vibrancy - then ANYTHING is possible.  Vibrancy is resonance - resonance needs to be balanced - whether it uses more head or chest or belt is balanced, it is vibrant and it need NEEDS to be YOURS!  


  1. It makes me crazy when choral directors say, "Sing this in head voice" to the soprano section. What usually results is an unsupported wimpy sound because they are removing the core of the sound, the connection to the body, the mix. I think every single note you sing has head and chest in it - it's the ratio that matters.

  2. EXACTLY!!!!! It's all in the mix - I liken it to a drink that you can see the layers distinctly - you add a bit of this a little more of that - and give it a good shake and VOILA - a truly MIXED VOICE!

  3. I haven't gotten a chance to tell you how much I am enjoying your blog. It's fabulous.

    This post really resonates for me.

    You are right, it takes some guts to let go of old habits. Thanks for your insights.

  4. thanks for your kind words! Glad the post resonates - it is important that this blog is informative and encouraging!

  5. What exactly are you mixing? The term "mix" is as vague as "head" and "chest." Specificity is what is called for. What's the position of the larynx? What is the vibratory pattern of the vocal folds? Where is the tongue? and so forth...

  6. So true Anonymous! Vocal Pedagogy is not an exact science is it? Thus, I believe in finding vocabulary in the studio one on one with each individual voice. All these things can be addressed and more!