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Head voice or falsetto

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sean2520
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I made a post afew weeks back asking several questions, but this one is still bugging me simply because my range is holding me back, I think I sound good in chest voice (when im not straining to go higher).

I can't tell whether a certain register I have is head voice or falsetto, and it's starting to do my head in!

It's as easy to do as my normal voice, I can switch between but it sounds very pure and girly.

I've looked online to do tests to see which it is, all I've seen is hold your hand in front of your mouth and make a note, well the amount of air coming out is a very similar amount to my chest voice. If I really push I can get a whistle like noise and loads of air comes out so that could be falsetto? (in that case my falsetto is useless at the moment.)

Are there any other tests? Ways to tell, when I try to go from chest > this register it feels like my voice box 'flips'.

If it is head voice, and I can improve it to sound like chest, man my range is epic, I so hope it is.

Cheers

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I'm going to reply here for better or worse and say: please post a sample. It's very hard (impossible) to determine whether you sing in falsetto or head voice in just text. For your sake I hope its head voice of course :P

Cheers!

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I made a post afew weeks back asking several questions, but this one is still bugging me simply because my range is holding me back, I think I sound good in chest voice (when im not straining to go higher).

I can't tell whether a certain register I have is head voice or falsetto, and it's starting to do my head in!

It's as easy to do as my normal voice, I can switch between but it sounds very pure and girly.

I've looked online to do tests to see which it is, all I've seen is hold your hand in front of your mouth and make a note, well the amount of air coming out is a very similar amount to my chest voice. If I really push I can get a whistle like noise and loads of air comes out so that could be falsetto? (in that case my falsetto is useless at the moment.)

Are there any other tests? Ways to tell, when I try to go from chest > this register it feels like my voice box 'flips'.

If it is head voice, and I can improve it to sound like chest, man my range is epic, I so hope it is.

Cheers

No one can tell you for sure without hearing it, but here's a couple of tests you can try out:

Make that sound and see if you can get loud. I don't mean that by screaming. Use your support and see if you can add volume. If you can't, and the volume pretty much stays the same despite your attempts, then you're likely in falsetto mode.

Another way to test is to see if you can connect that tone to your lower or higher range as one connected, long note. If you try, and find that you can't connect, and feel like there's nowhere to go or if there's a flip or a break, then you're in falsetto mode.

If you manage to get a very loud, buzzy tone, or if you manage to connect the note to the rest of your range, then there's a good chance you're in head voice.

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No one can tell you for sure without hearing it, but here's a couple of tests you can try out:

Make that sound and see if you can get loud. I don't mean that by screaming. Use your support and see if you can add volume. If you can't, and the volume pretty much stays the same despite your attempts, then you're likely in falsetto mode.

Another way to test is to see if you can connect that tone to your lower or higher range as one connected, long note. If you try, and find that you can't connect, and feel like there's nowhere to go or if there's a flip or a break, then you're in falsetto mode.

If you manage to get a very loud, buzzy tone, or if you manage to connect the note to the rest of your range, then there's a good chance you're in head voice.

Make sure you are adding real power and not just adding twang with mill make it sound a lot louder to you.

It sounds like you probably have the same heavy twang falsetto that I was using. Just like you, I did not feel more air coming out but mine did not involve any chest and was not, in my opinion, a true connected voice. I found ways to bridge with it felt like it was the same mode all the way down my register but there were some tonal and placement changes if I really looked for them. Just like you, I could go extremely high with it and it felt like I might just have some out of this world range that only a few people have, but that is not the case at all.

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Just like you, I could go extremely high with it and it felt like I might just have some out of this world range that only a few people have, but that is not the case at all.

I'm not sure I understand this last line. if for example you can sing good sustained super high notes, say anything higher than E5, then what different does the coordination make?

If you can sing those super high notes and sing them in a convincing way (not falsetto sounding), then how can you say it's not a case of you having an extended well developed upper range/head voice?

This is the same thing being discussed in the "Axl" thread I started.

If he's using full tone, non breathy, connected head voice with twang, it's simply not falsetto. It can't be falsetto according to the definition of what falsetto is.

It's very much possible to sing super high notes in full head voice, and not windy falsetto.

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And I'll also add: If you are able to sing a good strong, full sounding G#5, it doesn't really matter what it's called: Reinforced falsetto, Superglued flageolet , twanged juiced up head voice. Whatever. As long as it sounds awesome, that's all that matters in the end of the day.

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It is because it is not what I believe full voice to be.

This is going to be long but relevant to why I think about this the way I do. I don't want to have any type of placement change or feeling of disconnect in my range. I have a somewhat strange voice because it is very heavy but also very long. That makes the difference in my old head voice (Or what might be falsetto) and chest voice much more noticeable. I could always bring the head voice down or chest voice up to make it somewhat blend but not in the flawless way that I desire. Like I said in the Axl thread, I have been able to imitate his voice since I first started singing but it is not my voice. I can sound exactly like Josh Turner, Bing Crosby, or exactly like Axl, as well as many other artists. I could not match the tone of people like Steve Perry, Freddy Mercury, David Phelps and Howard Jones. The level of coordination and support they had made it impossible for somebody like me, who never even knew what support really was. I tried so many different methods and just recently realized that I was doing EVERYTHING with my larynx. I am very lucky that I did not damage myself badly during this phase and even if I could do some things well, according to others ears, it was not the full capability I wanted out of my voice and probably would have broken down completely eventually.

That being said, somebody else might have a different approach. For example, none of my old notes ever had a breathy quality in them. In fact, I can barely have that quality when trying to. I even know some professional vocalists that were pushing me to try to record and get noticed with the older approach. I am sure it is possible to develop that specific style and sing in one style of music but that is not want I personally wanted to do. I want to have the connected head voice that is still has some chest strong chest qualities within it. When I get to where I have freedom and everything is providing with my support, I might delve into different areas, this time with a sound approach that will not break down.

Again, sorry for the long post.

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I hear you.

I guess it's individual for each voice.

I can sing those "Axl" notes in strong connected head voice, but can't get his tone to save my life, cause I never experimented with distortion and since I don't like that ultra twangy- stuck in the mask tone Axl has.

But here's another thing to consider, you may be doing it right but just need to work on the connection part.

When I started I could hit the super high Axl notes by just imagining the sound was coming out of my eyes or forhead, so I would think of that physical sensation and go for the notes, but then if I tried to take that high pitch and go lower in range while staying connected I couldn't and the whole coordination fell apart.

I can say that by daily work I've managed to connect everything together. The key here is once you remember the physical sensation/placement of where those high notes "sit" in your head, is to then drop more and more vocal weight the higher you go, really allow the voice to become small so to speak, and then adding the weight back on as you go down the scale.

This takes a really focused and dedicated practice to learn and get used to that weight dropping and weight gaining sensation, as it does feel kinda weird at first , but you can really connect everything.

I hope this made sense.

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I guess there are so many different ways you make a note sound.... breathy, squeezed, soft, medium, loud and all the different variables in between. Like everyone else has said it's difficult to say without actually hearing it or having any specific notes to work from. But let's face it, we are all after a chesty/belty quality in the head voice.

You say you can hear a pronounced flip or break so based on this I would be inclined to say it was falsetto. When your voice is in falsetto the tone is breathy, this is because your vocal folds/cords are apart. The trick is keeping them together or connected as you go through your break into your head voice. This can be done through twang (an extreme version of twang is a quack sound like a duck or witches cackle or nya nya nya like a spoilt brat). Try some scales using one of these sounds (make sure it's not too nasal, you should feel buzzy behind the nose, not in the nose). You should find that you can keep 'connected' all the way through your break. Don't push by the way, just feel the resonance (vibrations in your face). Granted, this 'quacky' sound isn't want you want for singing but it's a tool for getting rid of falsetto and keeping your cords closed through the break.

You then can get big, boomy 'chest like' notes in your head voice by having good breath support and a lowered larynx / vowel modification. This is what some refer to as mixed voice but to me it's just head notes that sound like chest notes. This will obviously help to smooth out the registrar transitions/bridge/break and making your voice into 'one voice'. You won't need these 'belt' notes for every song but let's face it. It's what all singers want!!

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But here's another thing to consider, you may be doing it right but just need to work on the connection part.

I can say that by daily work I've managed to connect everything together. The key here is once you remember the physical sensation/placement of where those high notes "sit" in your head, is to then drop more and more vocal weight the higher you go, really allow the voice to become small so to speak, and then adding the weight back on as you go down the scale.

This takes a really focused and dedicated practice to learn and get used to that weight dropping and weight gaining sensation, as it does feel kinda weird at first , but you can really connect everything.

I hope this made sense.

I kept the parts in that were key. Daily work, connecting, and learning to drop weight. And the last part is the hardest. Because it's mental.

So, let me be the tough love guy. For some of you guys that want to sing higher, you are going to have to drop some weight in the voice. To where you think you sound girly and weak. You're not going to get there coordinating the same way you have been used to in speach all of your lives.

And if you can't mentally handle that, then you are not getting there, ain't gonna happen. You're stepping on your own feet. Learn to be a plumber, or something.

And for some, you may feel some changes, but what does it sound like to others? I don't give a hoot what you think because you cannot hear yourself as others hear you and that is a fact, and that flies in the face of your preconceived notions about yourself. Get used to it.

But I admire people with plastic voices, voices that can be made to sound like most anyone. I think you are genetically gifted. Gifted in ways that the singers you copy are not gifted. The singers that Consumingfire mentioned have one thing in common. They did not spend any time trying to sound like anyone and developed their own sound. And if someone wants to stand up and say, well, the copied this guy and that guy for this amount of time, etc. , well, go ahead and prove that. Document it, even with just interviews with the singer or with the family of the singer. Go ahead prove that the great, iconic singers spent all of their time copying other singers rather than developing their own sound and style.

And I agree with Powerofone. If you can sing anything above even C5, who cares if you call it goosenfrabe or love potion #9, as long as the note was on pitch and fit with what you were doing.

And this will also be some tough love and hurt some feelings and encounter great resistance. I would apologize ahead of time but then it would not count as tough love. Tough love is supposed to be where you just tell it like it is, as indelicately as possible, just to prove how forthright and meaningful you are. And that is, all voices are different and not every voice can do the same thing. That is a genetic fact of life, really beyond debate but I expect debate on it, anyway.

I like what Steven Fraser ( I think) once said. Falsetto is a type of phonation, characterized by a lack of strong resonance, where a significant amount of air can be heard and that this effect is most often heard and used in the part of the range that people call "head voice" , i.e., past the 1st passaggio. That is, most often used on notes above anywhere from D4 to G4.

Something else I would like others to consider: as long as we are still using the names, chest voice and head voice, we are still thinking in registers instead of one voice. If you can think of the voice as a cotinuum, you might just change what you are doing in an easier fashion. Then, again, who would want to make it easier?

:lol:

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Quick and easy. I keep hearing people say if you crack or break or there is a tonal shift between point a and point b you must be using falsetto. Bullshavic. until you feel the proper connection and even if you do you may still feel that shift even if you are using proper connected head voice.

One thing that happens... We play around with our "chest voice". With all of the different artists that there are we will sing songs sounding like elvis in one song. sounding like DIO in another. Sounding like Bruce springstein.

We don't say I must be in some other coordination in this song because I sounded like Bruce instead of elvis. They are both Chesty. WE DON'T SPEND THE SAME AMOUNT OF TIME JUST PLAYING WITH DIFFERENT SOUNDS IN A HIGHER PITCH..... Headvoice can have the same amount of differences as our chest voice. If you make sound at an E5 pitch you can sing it eventually. It does take time. and don't be afraid of playing with the sound while you are sustaining it..... Open mouth alittle or close it or switch between vowels to feel and hear the suble differences it can make.

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2 excellent posts ron and MDEW

I'm definitely a subscriber to "One Voice", but "One Voice" is an end result.

Until everyone gets to "One Voice", they have to work on it part by part. That's the only way you can build anything, part by part, bit by bit.

So now, more about head voice:

Of course there's a tonal shift the higher you go into head. Once you're trained, it shouldn't sound "girly" (unless of course you want it to, for stylistic purposes), but it will not sound EXACTLY like chest. How could it? the notes are higher and smaller.

I for one find "head voice" to be much more interesting to work with then good ol' chest voice.

To me it's more flexible, has more colors, and can be shaped and manipulated to sound many different ways.

Nothing wrong with chest voice of course, but we spend so much time "down there" every day, that it's kinda familiar and unexciting territory, why do you think Robert encourages everyone to bridge early? :P

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I always thought that I couldn't sing high notes because when I did it sounded week or girly or cartoony.

I would always sing lower songs for people. I don't even know the words to most songs that are in a higher range.

But guess what.... After all these years of not singing those songs I found out that those sounds that I have refused to do because they didn't sound Full and Beautiful are exactly what I need to train the the higher range.

Go figure....

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Cheers for the great response, I'll try to address everyone that did respond!

@Mivke I will try to upload an audio recording of myself when I get back home on monday, but note that this register sounds very pure and girly, but not breathy - pure.

@DoverOs I would be fine to sing in chest if

1. my range wasnt so limited by it

2. higher notes in chest sound weaker - forced

@ThePowerOfOne

When I try to increase the volume, more air comes out, which makes me inclined to believe it is falsetto - dammit. Also yeah it feels like a flip between chest and this, I thought that maybe because it's so undeveloped that there was a chance the flip could be worked out like so many tutorials talk about, maybe not though.

@ConsumingFire

Yeah man I can totally relate, I can produce sounds in this register that sound like Axl, you know when I goes 'hugh' and 'yeah' well in this register I can add that twang sound to it. Currently I am so gutted because I'm like a baritone with no range, and apparently you can always add notes upwards with practice (yeah I've read all about the 'but its about the tone and the quality' - yeah but Ill cross that bridge when I can sing the damn thing, if you hear me!). I can't find my head voice and I don't know what to do about it if this is falsetto!

I've never used this register to sing, it sounds dumb, especially as I sing rock which has to have abit of grit (chest) in there to sound meaningful, so it could just be extremely undeveloped.

@Gina Ellen Vocalist I've done a ton of research out there before hand, I understand what falsetto is and the biology behind it, when I try and go through the break and connected, I get strangled by my larynx! I can almost hear in my head the note that should be coming out and its like my throat is in the right position, but nothing but breath and a whispering noise comes out, it's so argovating! And I haven't found one solid tutorial out there about keeping a lowered larynx, so I'm going to assume it's what the people who already know how, and are doing it correctly's way of describing it :/

@ronws Yeah I understand that it might take some practice, I never actually do any practice other than singing along because I always have people around me and don't want them to hear. Maybe after I move out of uni I can get down to some solid practice though. Yes I can hit some really high notes in this, but it doesn't fit the part as of yet.

My current range is roughly from G2 to E4, which is a baritone? But it's starting to sound weak when I get to about E4. I thought at the back of my head is maybe I've been using chest and head all along but it's all connected, however I've never had a break, as I sing higher notes it does sound like the noise is more up my throat.

@MDEW I've been singing consistently (about 1-2 hours a day) for the past year now and I've gained very few notes, where as Jared Leto can sing almost as low as I can in some of his songs (or as low) and can go a good 1 or 2 octaves above me. At the rate I am progressing, and as there is no break in my chest voice I feel as though I am missing my head voice!

So if it is falsetto, how do I find head? I've looked everywhere. Cheers for the great response so far though!

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You're talking about your range being from E2 to E4 or there about. But you said with the other voice that sounds girly you would have a killer range. That is the same with every one. we all switch from one "voice" to another around the same notes. Thats why they call it bridging. But there are things that we can do to make the switching point inaudable or less audible.

I'm not a teacher so I cannot tell you how to do this. Just knowing that it is possible helps.

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@geran Cheers for the reply, I'll definitely give some of those ago

@MDEW Yeah if I could make the girly voice sound like my chest voice it would be epic, obviously I've barely used this register so perhaps I can make it into something, apparently you can't bridge falsetto if it is though

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Also a reason why I think I 'haven't found my head voice' is because people say they can add abit of head voice to their chest, mix or whatever, where as the current register I use to sing is just one that seems to go up my throat the higher I go, the larynx with it sadly!

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yeah, MDEW has a point, you have to keep using head voice to get good at it. You also need to understand, range doesn't mean zip(replace with less rude word) if you don't have good tone. I would bet $1000 dollars that your chest voice has too much breath and a smooth onset where the larynx doesn't drop at the proper time; and possibly too much pressure. Chest voice doesn't have anything to do with how your high notes sound, it's how your low notes sound.

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I made a post afew weeks back asking several questions, but this one is still bugging me simply because my range is holding me back, I think I sound good in chest voice (when im not straining to go higher).

I can't tell whether a certain register I have is head voice or falsetto, and it's starting to do my head in!

It's as easy to do as my normal voice, I can switch between but it sounds very pure and girly.

I've looked online to do tests to see which it is, all I've seen is hold your hand in front of your mouth and make a note, well the amount of air coming out is a very similar amount to my chest voice. If I really push I can get a whistle like noise and loads of air comes out so that could be falsetto? (in that case my falsetto is useless at the moment.)

Are there any other tests? Ways to tell, when I try to go from chest > this register it feels like my voice box 'flips'.

If it is head voice, and I can improve it to sound like chest, man my range is epic, I so hope it is.

Cheers

Sean, a couple of things...

First of all, it's probably falsetto. Second of all, even if it's not falsetto and is instead a very weak headvoice configuration, it doesn't matter. You're obviously unsatisfied with the tone and want to make it more powerful, so to do that you're going to need to work on it to get there. And yes you can get there.

The quickest and easiest way to get there, by far, is to take lessons with Rob Lunte or someone else who knows what they're doing. It costs money, sure, but it's an investment. Assuming you have a healthy voice and sing decently in your comfortable range already, a good coach will have you on the path to singing the high notes in the first lesson. If you practice what they tell you, you'll discover a whole new voice within a few weeks. No I don't mean you'll be able to sing like Steve Perry in a week or two. But you will feel a great sense of "holy shit, I think I can really do this".

But if you're going to be a skeptic for a while, or just don't have the cash (totally understandable), the exercises geran suggests are very good.

I would add, though, that on those closed vowels you need to modify them somewhat. If you sing "ee" the way most English speakers speak it, your larynx will rise too high and it will become difficult if not impossible to sing the higher notes. If you search this forum there's dozens of threads on vowel modification that can give you more info about that. Or hell, start your own thread about it. People here love answering questions.

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Definately sounds like Falsetto, from you mentioning more air comes out when you try to get louder. Geran's exercises are good, just work on it & dont expect it to sound clear straight away. Falsetto is great to be able to use stylistically, the main drawback is you cant strengthen the notes to much as mentioned.

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