What is ‘Head Voice’ and what is ‘Chest Voice’?

Featured, Vocals

“next time someone asks you to make a ‘Chest Voice’ sound, ask them more specific questions”

What is ‘Head Voice’ and what is ‘Chest Voice’? How can we be more specific when describing these ‘voices’?

When it comes to singing with chest voice and head voice, a lot of students struggle to determine what exactly these terms really mean. This is because ‘Chest Voice’ comes in a great variety of sounds and tones, and one singer can sing chest voice with lots of twang and projection, whereas another singer can sing in chest voice with more thyroid tilt or cry, and lowered larynx, and the result would be vastly different.

It does seem useful though, to think of our voice coming from different parts of our body, and I sometimes use these terms to guide students if they are more used to ‘feeling’ or ‘sensing’ the sound and the vibrations in their body.

‘Chest Voice’ generally refers to something that is heavier, thicker, more solid, and also strong and resonant, with more vibration at the chest area or even in the throat space. I would usually tell students that they need to use thick true vocal folds to achieve this solid sound, and that they will also need some twang in their voice in order to help it be more resonant.

‘Head Voice’ would then refer to something that sounds higher up, thinner, lighter, but yet still solid and also projected when needed. It will be distinctly different from ‘Falsetto’, but that’s a whole new story altogether.

For ‘Head Voice’, I would tell students to use thinner true vocal folds, more thyroid tilt or cry, and twang if needed in order to allow that sound to be projected (because thin folds are, by definition, soft in volume).

And so, if you see how I am describing the 2 types of ‘voices’, you can then see where the problem lies. It is hard for us to tell our students 2 words – ‘Chest Voice’ or ‘Head Voice’ – and expect them to know exactly what sound they should be producing. Because there really are so many ways in which we can vary that sound!

For example, we can nasalize a chest voice sound to make it less strong. Or, we can add twang or brightness to a chest voice sound to make it sound ‘higher’ or more resonant and bright. Or, we can lower the larynx to make it sound more deep and dark in tonality. We can do all these tweaks because we are equipped with the knowledge that comes with knowing our vocal anatomy, and also how the voice works!

And so, the next time someone asks you to make a ‘Chest Voice’ sound, ask them more specific questions, and refine their request in a way that will allow you to produce the sound that they have in mind. Because everyone has a different definition of what ‘Chest Voice’ should sound like.

When we are able to define a voice or a sound in its specific vocal structures and what these structures are doing, then we can be much more specific in knowing what sound we ACTUALLY want.

Find out more by becoming a Smarter Singer today: www.smartersinger.com

Thank you for your kind attention, and have a great day ahead!

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