On the way to expand your vocal range, learning how to sing in mixed voice becomes inevitably. You can hit high notes with your chest voice and you can also sing it in falsetto. But nothing is as powerful and breathtaking as the skill to blend vocal registers. When your listeners can’t really tell if a note was sung in chest or head voice, you know you did a great job in terms of mixing your voice.
This article will describe the theory behind a mix voice and also show you, how you can work it out on your own.
Head vs. chest vs. mixed voice
To keep things simple and practical, I want to outline what the terms head voice, chest voice, mixed voice mean and how you can find out in your own voice.
Chest voice is what we normally know as our speaking voice. If you sing an “Ah” at a low pitch, you are in your chest voice. The Chest voice sounds strong and has its range limits. Depending on your voice type (e.g. tenor, bass, baritone, alt, soprano, mezzo soprano) your pure chest voice ends at E4-G4 for males and A4-C5 for female singers.
Head voice is the light voice that appears when you sing beyond the passage, where your chest voice ends.
Males often notice a break or flip in their voice, when chest voice switches to head voice. You can also hear that when someone is yodeling, where -on purpose- he switches between chest and head voice. Head voice is usually light and weaker than the chest voice, although in order to develop a good mix, it has to be strengthen.
Mixed voice is the register blend of both chest and head voice. Actually it’s some kind of artificial voice, you create through training. Honestly, it can take a little while until you master it, but it’s worth the work.
We’ll soon take a deeper look at it.
Advantages of a good mix
It suggests itself that singing with mixed voice goes along with a lot of advantages.
First and foremost, your vocal range will benefit enormously. Just one comment regarding high notes: They are already there. Every top note you can reach with your head voice, you can also sing with mixed voice. So, don’t worry about that one. Singing with blended registers allows you to climb the scale in a beautiful, full sounded voice. Moreover, you will eventually sing with “one voice”, without any breaks or flips and no changes in sound over your whole range.
Besides range, a mixed voice singing is also a healthy way of singing. You don’t have to push for the notes, you don’t have to hit on your vocal chords. You will master to leverage airflow and optimize resonance.
Signs of a disconnected voice
When we talk about head voice, we ideally mean the connected head voice. You can easily test, if what you deem to be your head voice is connected, when you start at a high pitch and then move down to the bottom, if you notice any break or flip in your voice. If yes, it shows that your “head voice” was not connected. A disconnected head voice is what we know under the term of “falsetto”.
So breaks or flips in your voice are signs of disconnection, typically a problem in male voices. Reason for that is the puberty vocal change, when due to testosterone larynx and vocal chords enlarge and larynx changes position. The voice goes up and down and in order to avoid the voice flips, boys push hard to fix their larynx, enabling them to talk masculine.
While also girls have some kind of voice change in puberty, its not that obvious. Often, female voices switch from chest to a very weak, quiet head voice, rather than flipping.
How to approach mixing chest with head voice
Bear in mind, that a full voice sound always comprises chest voice and head voice.
Full voice = chest voice + head voice
Lower notes have a high chest voice proportion, higher notes a high head voice proportion.
Basically, head voice is nothing but the air that engages the bones in your head to vibrate. You can literally feel it right in your face. So, the task is to let the air pass and resonate. When you stick merely to your chest voice, it won’t happen.
Going higher, you let more and more air into your head to mix with the chest voice. The magic of this is, that still in your highest (full) note you keep a tiny proportion of chest voice. That’s why it sounds full.
First step to approach this technique is to make very light humming exercises. When humming, a lot of air is blown into our head, so we automatically engage the head vibrations. That’s a great exercise to smoothen a break in your voice, when humming in and out of your passagio. It’s critical that you don’t force anything. When your voice breaks, it breaks, That’s okay for now. Just stay light and keep practicing.
In the second step we have to strengthen the head voice, so it can take over at a certain pitch. The “Krah” exercise, which I have described in detail in this article will help you develop a stronger head voice.
The third step will bring everything together. Therefore, we practice octave exercises, where we sing “Ah” at a low note and make an octave jump, let say from C3 to C4. Try mentally to stay in the same position for the C4 as you started the C3. You’ll be surprised how well that works, if you’ve mastered the first and second step.
Let me just tell you one thing: Be patient with yourself.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither did anyone master register blend in one week. Depending on your current level, it can take a while until you have cleaned out your weak spots and breaks. But this will do so much for you and your voice. Keep practicing, but only fresh and relaxed.
Acquiring the ability to sing with a mixed voice, will totally change not only your vocal range but also the sound of your voice. Mixed voice singing will exponentiate your vocal skills and enable you to sing almost anything.
A light and breathy approach is the first step to get rid of any break. A perfect connection of chest and head voice in every note you sing, is the ultimate goal.
What do you think? Are you mixed-up already?