What Is Falsetto And
How You Should Use It?

Falsetto is a beautiful vocal sound that can captivate an audience. 

However over the years many singers who I’ve worked with have found falsetto confusing. 

Is falsetto the same as head voice? 

Will singing falsetto damage your voice? 

What does falsetto sound like?

These are important questions! 

On this page we will answer these questions. Also, you’ll get everything you need to be able to sing with a beautiful falsetto sound. 

Let’s start with the obvious question:

Falsetto Definition?

The Wikipedia definition for falsetto is the vocal register occupying the frequency range just above the modal voice register and overlapping with it by approximately one octave. 

This may sound a little complicated, so let’s make it simpler. 

Quite simply, falsetto is the highest part of your vocal range. 

Technically it can overlap with lower parts of your range too, but singers usually use it for higher notes. 

The name “falsetto” comes from “false sound”. However over the years many singers have demonstrated there is nothing false about it at all! 

It’s a very usable vocal technique that has a delicate, emotional quality to it.  

What Does Falsetto Voice Sound Like?

Falsetto has a breathy, flute like quality to it. 

It doesn’t have the depth or power that your head voice has, but it makes up for it with it’s beautiful delicate quality. 

Here's a video where I discuss the meaning of falsetto as well as demonstrate how it sounds: 

What Does Singing In Falsetto Mean?

To understand exactly what it is, we must first look at how sound is created.

First of all, if you place your finger gently on your Adam’s apple (the lump that protrudes in the front of your neck), what you are feeling is part of your larynx.

Your larynx is the “voice box” that houses your vocal cords. When air passes through these vocal cords, they come together and vibrate.

This is where your sound is formed.

To get a more in depth explanation about how you create sound, check out this tutorial. 

Your Vocal Chords Are Slightly Apart
When You Sing In Falsetto

Falsetto happens when air passes through your vocal chords and they do not come together.

The vocal folds located above the vocal chords will then vibrate to create the sound. 

Let's take a listen to some songs with singers using falsetto so you can hear what it sounds like. 

Check out this video to hear some male falsetto examples: 

And here are some female falsetto examples: 

Falsetto vs Head Voice

It's easy to get head voice and falsetto confused. This is because they are both your higher vocal registers and they have a similar sound. 

If you'd like to read an in depth discussion, here's a great artist.

Head Voice VS Falsetto.

Let's look at the key difference:

  • When you are singing in "head voice" your vocal chords come together. This produces a sound with more depth and power than falsetto
  • When you sing in falsetto register your vocal chords are slightly apart. This lets more air through which gives you that breathy sound. 

Both head voice and falsetto are important vocal qualities to develop. And they both have their advantages. 

When I'm teaching I always recommend singers to develop falsetto, but to use it sparingly.

This is because overusing it can be stressful on your voice long term. 

I also teach my singers how to get a very similar sound by using their head voice, which is very safe to use as much as you like. 

To learn more about using your head voice, check out this page here.

A Safe Way To Get A Falsetto Like Quality? 

Watch this video below for how to sing falsetto in a way that preserves your voice as well as sounds great!

Falsetto is undeniably beautiful. Unfortunately though, if it's overused it can take it's toll on your voice.

If you use a lot of falsetto, over time your voice will become worse for wear.

There are some big name singers who have suffered this. Mariah Carey for instance has been doing incredible things for a long time, but due to overuse of falsetto her voice is beginning to wear.

How To Sing Falsetto Without Ruining Your Voice?

Obviously falsetto can sound really beautiful, so it would be a shame to lose that quality in the name of preserving your voice!

Fortunately there is an alternative that can give you the same beautiful sound, but with no long term consequences.

You see, when you sing in falsetto your vocal chords are coming apart, which is why you get that airy sound.

Instead of this, you can sing into your upper vocal register and maintain a slight connection with your vocal chords. This is typically known as a "head voice" sound.

By maintaining a small connection you can get a very similar sound to falsetto, however it's a much healthier way to sing.

Click on the video below to watch me demonstrate a falsetto exercise that helps you to hit your higher notes without pushing your voice: 

It's well worth practicing because it gives you the ability to sing falsetto with no consequences whatsoever (in a manner of speaking).

The exercises in the video will also give you a lot of flexibility and skill. They are a little higher in difficulty level (as things tend to be in your upper vocal range), however with a little practice and patience, before long you'll be dazzling audiences with  beautiful high notes.

If you'd like to learn more about developing the upper parts of your vocal range, check out this tutorial here. 

Can You Sing Falsetto With POWER? 

Here's the bottom line. 

Singing with a true falsetto with a lot of power can damage your voice. 

However you can create a similar effect by developing a mix of your head voice and chest voice. This will give you plenty of power in your upper range. And you can do it for hours without any strain! 

Long term this is the best way to go. 

Watch this video below and I will demonstrate: 

The Key Is To Develop A "Mix"

Normally when you're singing in falsetto your vocal chords are slightly apart. This is why you can get that really "airy" quality. And while this is a really beautiful sound, to get more power you need a slightly different approach. 

What you need to be able to do is sing your high notes with your vocal chords staying together. 

As you can see in the video I demonstrate this and you can hear when I do the sound immediately has more depth and power. 

So how do you go about it?

"Release" Into Your High Notes

Releasing into your high notes allows you to take any strain off your voice. Click play on the video below and watch me demonstrate. 

(The video will begin at the correct time for the demonstration) 

As you'll see in the demonstration I'm leaving a little gap before hitting the top note in the exercise. When you do this you're going to find it easier to hit the note without your vocal chords coming apart. 

This is going to give you a "fuller" sound, which is going to be a great platform to hit your higher notes with more power. 

Pull Your High Notes "Down" Allows You To Get A Great Amount Of Vocal Power

The second tip is more of a mental "thinking" tip. 

What you need to do here is when you go up to those higher notes, just "think" to yourself that you're pulling the note down instead of "reaching" up to it. 

When you think that you're pulling your notes down, it really keeps your voice box in the correct place, which is going to keep your vocal chords functioning correctly. 

The trouble with "reaching" up to your high notes (which most singers do) is it can often cause you to force your voice box out of position, which causes a whole slew of problems.

It's All About Practice!

These two tips of "releasing" into your high notes and "pulling your high notes down" can really help you develop power in your upper range.

And it's much safer on your voice than trying to use falsetto with a lot of power. 

So practise and have fun with it!

Before you know you'll be singing with more power and a bigger sound up there. 

This is really how to sing falsetto with lot's of power.

Conclusion

Falsetto is a fantastic way to add stylistic flourishes into your singing. It has a beautiful airy quality that can really connect with your audience. 

To get your falsetto going, sing high into your range and find that place where your tone gets breathy and flute like. This means your vocal chords have come apart slightly and you are in your falsetto register. 

Always remember that if overused, falsetto can be stressful on your vocal chords. 

So if you want to create a "falsetto like" sound for long periods, you can develop a “mixed” voice in the upper parts of your normal vocal range that will sound very similar.

Long term, this is ideal as it will give you that stylistic flexibility, but not at the expense of your voice’s health!

To get an excellent free series of singing videos that take you through exercises to help you achieve this, click the link below.

Click Here To Get The Free Singing Video Series On Falsetto And Other Singing Techniques

Once you’ve learned how to sing up high in a mixed voice, as well as use little pieces of falsetto here and there, you’ll be well on your way to being a very flexible and dynamic singer.

Become this type of singer and you’ll have the audience in the palm of your hands!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do females have falsetto?

Females do have the ability to sing falsetto. Before 1950 it was believed that only male singers were able to sing in falsetto. This was because male singers have a more noticeable change in timbre when they switch to falsetto. 

However it’s now generally accepted that females are able to sing in falsetto. Here are some great demonstrations of females singing falsetto:   

What are the falsetto ranges? 

The falsetto range normally begins around an octave below the top of your modal or normal range. It then extends above your normal range up to the highest note you're able to sing. 

Is it bad to sing in falsetto?

It is not bad to sing in falsetto, however overuse can potentially wear out your voice. This is because you need to push through more air to create the sound - which can be stressful for the vocal chords. 

The ideal way to use falsetto is to tastefully blend in a little of it. But to primarily rely on your head voice or mixed voice for the majority of your higher notes. 

How do you sing in falsetto? 

You sing in falsetto by creating a breathy sound where your vocal chords are not connected. The air passes through the vocal chords and then your vocal folds (located above the chords) vibrate to create the sound. 

Is falsetto higher than head voice? 

While you can sing high notes in both your head voice as well as falsetto, the definition of falsetto states that it is the vocal register above your normal or “modal voice”. 

So by the traditional definition falsetto is higher than head voice. In reality however, many singers are able to sing in head voice as high as they can in falsetto. 

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About The Author

Roger Burnley - Vocal CoachRoger Burnley - Vocal Coach

Roger Burnley is a vocal coach located in Hollywood, California. He has been teaching singers for over 30 years and singing for even longer than that. 

Notable past and present clients include Macy Gray, Brandy, Ray J, The Beastie Boys, James Torme, Taylor Lautner, Nona Gaye, and many more.

His clients have collectively sold more than 30 million albums, with several reaching Platinum and Gold status. 

Roger has been featured on VH1, TV Guide Channel, TV One,
and MTV appearing as a vocal expert.

About The Author

Roger Burnley - Vocal CoachRoger Burnley - Vocal Coach

Roger Burnley is a vocal coach located in Hollywood, California. He has been teaching singers for over 30 years and singing for even longer than that. 

Notable past and present clients include Macy Gray, Brandy, Ray J, The Beastie Boys, James Torme, Taylor Lautner, Nona Gaye, and many more.

His clients have collectively sold more than 30 million albums, with several reaching Platinum and Gold status. 

Roger has been featured on VH1, TV Guide Channel, TV One,
and MTV appearing as a vocal expert.

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