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Developing a 'usable' falsetto.

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Nathan
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This might not apply to females as they typically have a pleasant sounding falsetto. This is mostly for us dudes...

We try not to sing in falsetto. It is classically considered a 'wrong' technique. For most of us it sounds awful.

But some guys seem to have amazing falsetto's (or at least, okay-ish ones). I'm talking about guys like Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Prince, Chris Martin (Coldplay)... These guys have a really good falsetto and rely on it as part of their voice.

Great for them. But if you're anything like me (and if you're on here, you probably are) then your falsetto sounds like a cross between Marge Simpson and Mickey Mouse... Neither of whom are heralded for their great singing ability.

And that's horrible! Look, I know most of us want to hit those bitchin' screams like Steven Tyler or Rob Plant or whoever... But c'mon, it'd be wicked to get some use out of our falsetto too! Falsetto is sooo easy (hence why we naturally seem to do it when we start) and it's such a shame that for most of us it is useless.

Basically... I would love to be able to use it. But, I've no idea how!

That is, I do not know how to make it sound good. Is there a way to focus it? Are there exercises to improve (specifically) falsetto? If so, please do share...

Every teacher I have asked about this has told me "Just practice singing in falsetto more and it'll strengthen." - I don't know if this has worked for anyone, but for me, this is absolute bull... When I started singing, I ONLY sang in falsetto... All the time... I didn't know any better. That is, I spent the first 10 months singing ONLY falsetto...

Did it improve?

... No.

Even recently, I've been practicing it... Trying to make it useful... Not happening. It sounds absolutely the same all of the time (that is to say, rubbish).

So, let's clear this up. Can it be improved? Has anybody actually managed to take a bad falsetto and make it good? Or is it a lost cause?

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singing is not the same vocalizing or exercising the vocal instrument.

what you are looking for is to move away from falsetto mode (because that's all it is... a mode) to a rich, powerful head voice. that comes when you can adduct consistently and variably in the head register.

a lot of guys you think are using falsetto are actually using a very well developed head register with support. you cannot support a falsetto tone.

did you see my post about the descending head voice slides?

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Hey Bob,

Just ran a few searches, but cannot seem to find that post. Can you link it?

But I guess, what you're basically confirming, is that falsetto cannot be improved and so it is essentially useless (aside from maybe some tasteful flips occasionally, kinda like the "USE" in the song below)

Thing is, I'm pretty certain this is falsetto (the chorus)

as is the end of the lines on this song e.g. "fake PLAA-AA-stic world..."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKd06s1LNik

and they sound great doing it.

I mean, maybe they're just naturally good at it and I am not... I'm willing to accept that.

I just hear theirs and it sounds cool, you know? They at least sound like the same person, as opposed to mine, which sounds like I stepped out for a few lines and the aforementioned Marge Simpson popped in to sing.

I guess I'll just have to stick to head voice instead. Just a shame because head voice requires so much more energy and isn't really that useful on slow/mellow songs like the coldplay/radiohead ones listed.

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Nathan,

I know exactly where you're coming from... a few years back I had no control over my falsetto at all, but my favourite singers seemed to have a flawless grasp over it; Matt Bellamy, Jeff Buckley, and Clint Boge to name a few. Bellamy in particular inspired me to work on my falsetto, and try to improve it.

Now, don't take what I'm about to say as "beginner's advice" ... what you need to do is relax. I don't mean keeping a nice, open throat so you can belt out high notes. Let go of that mechanism, let your jaw drop by itself, and simply sigh on a note. If you can get to a state of total relaxation, where there is absolutely no tension in your face or neck muscles, your falsetto will become so much easier; trust me on this.

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only you can decide where you take your voice, and mental imagery is often an underplayed, yet highly important element to these sounds. i'm studying that a lot lately.

head voice tones and notes can be colored and varied six ways to sunday once you've built it up a little and strengthened it.

you see by developing your head register, you actually give the voice the ability (in time) to vary from soft and sweet, to screamy and thick and everywhere in between.

let me repeat that, strengthening a register ultimately gives you variability, and adjustability, and finesse.

it's the advanced levels of development that enables this versatility.

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Now, don't take what I'm about to say as "beginner's advice" ... what you need to do is relax. I don't mean keeping a nice, open throat so you can belt out high notes. Let go of that mechanism, let your jaw drop by itself, and simply sigh on a note. If you can get to a state of total relaxation, where there is absolutely no tension in your face or neck muscles, your falsetto will become so much easier; trust me on this.

Totally agree with this. I think CVT calls this Neutral Mode. It's a great mode to develop as it helps with using Mix, Curbing, and other configurations, etc. Especially learning how to get throught your break area without pushing and straining.

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I personally find it much easier and much more pleasing to the ear (with my voice type) to sing in falsetto than in white head voice. In and of itself it is pretty versatile. I don't have to lean into it for it to be versatile. There is resonance in the sound that I have control over without having to generate pressure.

While in falsetto, it is easier to keep the tongue in a relaxed posture, so take advantage of that. Keep the jaw low, vowels vertical, use ample and fast air. You can sing for 10 months without doing any of this, so the mode you were singing in probably wasn't the only problem you were having. Practice shouting "wooh" from E5 or higher and sliding down. Siren back and forth on oo and ee from like B4-F#5 at a comfortable volume. The high end will be pretty loud if it is relaxed. Let me know if this helps? Also, don't practice too long too loud this way. The fast cold air can be bad for you.

Also, I may define falsetto differently than some of the guys on here. For me it is quite a distinct feeling from head voice.

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Totally agree with this. I think CVT calls this Neutral Mode. It's a great mode to develop as it helps with using Mix, Curbing, and other configurations, etc. Especially learning how to get throught your break area without pushing and straining.

Quincy, you're right, this is neutral mode... and the technique I've described is their "loose jaw" approach. It sounds simple, but don't underrate its effectiveness. :)

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Waddup guys, just posted a thread on the review section where I show my awful falsetto.

Good for laughs. Check it out: http://themodernvocalist.punbb-hosting.com/viewtopic.php?pid=36660#p36660

Spectrum, Matt Bellamy has a fantastic falsetto. Like on their version of 'Feelin Good'. It's insane. I've tried relaxing but... Yeah... If anything, that makes it worse.

Bob, I'd love to develop a softer (more pop sounding) headvoice, but it doesn't seem to work. My voice is too heavy I think (or just too awful). Everything sounds rock... Bit annoying. Thoughts on softening up?

srs7593, wish my voice sounded nicer in falsetto. But no. It's certainly easier to do all of the things you mentioned, but that seems to have zero impact on the sound.

Just for kicks, in my last class (I go to that music university, even though they're telling me to consider other options) I tried using falsetto on bits. It was 'Master Blaster' by Stevie. Tried doing one part entirely falsetto... When laughter happening, I opted back to regular belty head voice.

... Definitely not a 'have confidence in it and try' thing like my teacher pleaded then...

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To the discussion if falsetto can be used in metal:

I guess falsetto CAN be used in metal, I can say notes like this, but well, I can only use it as gimmicks and not sing lyrics with that "metal-"falsetto, I tried to make in the clip.

http://rofleren.dk/music/falsettometal.wav

Edit: wow, the first "metaaal" is a D6. Now the journey to sing that note in "headvoice"!

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Hey, Nathan, just re-read the first post.

I would probably differ with on the point that falsetto is not welcome in classical singing. That's where the term came from. In Frisell's system, falsetto is a vital training tool. Now, some may think I am biased because I can do a "usable" falsetto. And maybe mine is more usable because I already have a light voice, so the transition from full tone to falsetto or vice versa is not quite so shocking, as opposed to a bass or baritone going to falsetto.

Years ago, I saw the Turtles at an oldies fest. And they were covering Led Zeppelin song. And when it came to the high parts, they did it in falsetto, which is noticable, as their own voices were "bottom heavy," so to speak.

I think falsetto still has its uses as a stylistic choice, regardless of genre. And there are singers such as Justin Hawkins who sing higher in their full voice than in falsetto. That is, his falsetto is most usable in the 4th octave. And some may think of that as an easy crutch to deal with the passaggio.

I suppose it depends on perspective and what makes a good performance.

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Spectrum, Matt Bellamy has a fantastic falsetto. Like on their version of 'Feelin Good'. It's insane. I've tried relaxing but... Yeah... If anything, that makes it worse.

Yup, that's a good one. :) You should hear the falsetto he pulls out on some of the band's more obscure songs... check this out:

I'll go have a listen to your falsetto clip, though I know it won't be nearly as bad as you think it is... simple vocalist psychology.

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if you ask me all the singers i just heard had well developed head register musculature and sang in head voice....not falsetto.

why do i say that? note longevity...you simply cannot sing notes, held out notes in falsetto mode. there must be complete fold adduction.

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if you ask me all the singers i just heard had well developed head register musculature and sang in head voice....not falsetto.

why do i say that? note longevity...you simply cannot sing notes, held out notes in falsetto mode. there must be complete fold adduction.

Hm, that is not true :o I've always been able to sing easily in falsetto and I can sing pretty long notes in falsetto :o

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I agree that falsetto can be a useful tool for training, but I'm not finding it useful as much more than that. Mine is useless unless training it.

So I'm interested... many people have said my falsetto isn't falsetto and stuff... But it feels so different from headvoice... Headvoice seems to require so much more energy (unless I'm doing that wrong...)

Okay... here is a demonstration. C4-C5, showing the different sort of ways I can do those notes. If anyone wants to diagnose what is happening in each of these, that'd be awesome.

http://www.box.com/s/xqqdjl0x5y34expfrmib

1) Soft as a cloud falsetto

2) Leaned into / reinforced falsetto + out of tune version of let it be (didn't prepare to do that, opps :P)

3) How I normally sing... More belty aggressive

4) As above, with pushed down larynx (not what I do, but it's something I CAN do, though it's probably wrong)

Thoughts?

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rofleran, i invite you to try singing a 15 second long falsetto note of your choice.

nathan, can you do another recording, this time sing descending legato scales from a4 all the way down to your lowest note you can manage in head voice...don't let it go into chest voice at all. no disconnect.

on the vowel "oo"

1. soft and airy (falsetto)

2. soft and connected (head voice)

3. lean into it a bit (head voice)

4. lean into it a lot (head voice)

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Videobob:D

www.rofleren.dk/music/falsetto30sec.mp3

I added some vibrato, because a mix of: it was boring to sing a clean note and it got easier

respectfully, that is not falsetto......i.m.h.o., that is a lightly connected head voice.....(key word "connected").....adduction is present in a very light, but effective vocal fold adduction. because the folds are adducted, additional breath tension and fold resistance to the increased breath tension enables swelling of the tone.

falsetto has little to no consistency of adduction. it is characteristically airy and breathy. there is no air escaping from your example.

and what you are doing takes finesse and balance.

you will find if you practise swellin that sound and doing descending scales for several months, that sound begins to grow thicker and more resonant, and you start to develop a sense of aiming into the head cavity this increased breath tension, and the breath stream starts to drill into your resonators and elogates them (this is just my mental interpretation of what doing these has made me feel)

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respectfully, that is not falsetto......i.m.h.o., that is a lightly connected head voice.....(key word "connected").....adduction is present in a very light, but effective vocal fold adduction. because the folds are adducted, additional breath tension and fold resistance to the increased breath tension enables swelling of the tone.

falsetto has little to no consistency of adduction. it is characteristically airy and breathy. there is no air escaping from your example.

and what you are doing takes finesse and balance.

Hm, weird. When my friend and I began to sing (he began to play piano instead later) we tried to do Singing Success exercises, and Brett Manning often showed examples of falsetto, and ours didn't sound anything like. I guess I've just found it uncomfortable to sing with too much air, that I've automatic put some resistance into it. I guess you're right. Hm, or I don't know. I am CERTAIN that this is my falsetto, but I just prevent the air from my falsetto mode to run wild. What would you call this:

http://rofleren.dk/music/falsettometal.wav Everything but "Noone ever said it would be so hard" is sung in falsetto. I use some kind of compression and lots of vibrato to say those "metaaal".

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all head voice.....some light weight, some were twanged head voice. it's best to remove the word falsetto from your vocabulary, because you will find (as i did) as your head register develops and grows stronger, falsetto production (air escaping phonation) will be less likely a part of your voice.

i am learning to grow my head voice to such a degree that the chest musculature will be able to mate with it, as well as disconnect from it at will (years later, lol!!!!)

nate, i was trying to get you to explore the feminine, opera-ish sounding head voice. you will be amazed how that tone grows and can resonate like crazy when you can direct a strong stream of breath tension spot on into your resonating cavities.

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