The Secret to a Strong Head Voice – HINT: IT’S NOT FALSETTO!
YOU CAN BUILD YOUR HEAD VOICE
A lot of people hit the break in their voice, the passaggio, and they get discouraged. They think that they can only really sing powerfully in their chest voice, below the break. That is completely incorrect.
Head voice CAN be strengthened.
It’s difficult, but more than possible, with a little hard work.
The first thing that people need to get past is their idea that an airy, weak, “falsetto” sound is the same thing as a properly trained, powerful head voice. Let’s address that now.
FALSETTO IS NOT YOUR HEAD VOICE
What is the difference?
Head voice is just the register you use when you’re producing the sound — you can make more than one sound in your head voice. There are two vocal modes, (two different sounds, two different tools), that you can use when you are up in your head voice register: falsetto and twang.
Falsetto is what everyone thinks of when the term “head voice” comes up. You know the sound: airy, sort of weak, wimpy, usually softer. Faded.
Twang is the sound that everyone wants to get. It is a sure, strong, forward vocal mode — laser focused and full of energy and drive.
Scroll back up to the intro video and listen through.
You can really start to hear the difference toward the end of the video, as Robert demonstrates going back and forth between falsetto and twang. The notes are in the same register, but the vocal modes are entirely different. The physiological setup is unique for each mode. You can hear it.
Falsetto is marked by an open glottis. The opening between the vocal folds is large, producing an airy sound. Students of The Vocalist Studio will use this to get a feel for where tones are placed in the head voice.
Twang, on the other hand, features a lifted larynx, and a narrowed epiglottic funnel. A vocalist using the twang vocal mode is closing the vocal folds — not too much, but just enough to throw the sound into twang.
Quick visual aid:
Have you ever watered a garden using a hose with no nozzle attached? The water dribbles out slowly, in a stream that is constant but not aggressive. If you take your thumb and cover up part of the opening, the stream is compressed and the flow of the water speeds up. Restricting that flow lets you spray someone with the stream!
Falsetto and twang can be thought of in a similar way. Your physiology is set up more like the open, slow-flowing hose when you’re using falsetto. It’s not a bad way to sing… your garden is still getting watered, right? You’re still hitting the notes… technically.
But if you want to really spray someone with your sound — that is, if you want some serious power behind it, it can be useful to narrow down the vocal folds and switch into twang mode.
THE TVS APPROACH
Do you want a fix for airy falsetto-style head tone? Want to dip your toe into training in twang? Check out this vocal training video where Robert discusses vocal onsets and vocal sirens.
If the onset is good, then the vocal exercise that follows will be productive.
Onset training is setting up each note to be in the proper place. There are eight specialized onsets covered in the TVS method covered in The Four Pillars of Singing.
In this video, Robert focuses in on the quack and release onset, built from the “quack” vocal mode. This is a mode that is used to practice resistance training and take airiness out of the sound. Quack is an exaggerated, almost nasally, heavy-in-the-mask, extremely forward sound. This is an onset that will definitely build a very strong head voice.
If the vocal siren is smooth, then the bridging between chest and head voice will be stable.
The vocal siren is a training exercise to challenge vocalists to maintain an onset from note to note. It’s a way to bring strength and continuity to the voice between chest and head voice. This is a fantastic way to bridge over the break.
If you found the vocal training video useful, then you will find Private Lessons with Robert Lunte to be EXTREMELY useful. Sign up for a Skype lesson today!
At the very least, if you haven’t yet grabbed your copy of The Four Pillars of Singing, go ahead and pick one up now. We couldn’t possibly fit the entire book into a blog post. Read it and learn all of the methods that Robert uses to train a strong head voice.