Have you ever wondered the difference between singing in your head voice vs your mixed voice?
These are two different tonal qualities your voice can produce. And they are both very valuable to have as a singer!
Your mixed voice is that voice that can go quite high in your range. And it has that really powerful, full sounding quality to it.
If you're singing rock or pop, your mixed voice is particularly useful.
On the other hand, your head voice can go a little higher, but isn't quite as powerful. It has a sweeter, rounder sound to it.
Let's look at how you can use both of these voice registers, or qualities...
We'll start with Head Voice.
So what is your head voice?
Your head voice is the vocal register up the top of your vocal range.
If you make a high pitched, "Oooooo" sound like an Owl, you will be using your head voice.
Sometimes Head Voice can be mistaken for Falsetto, which is understandable because they do sound similar.
The difference is that in your Head Voice your vocal chords are still connected, whereas in Falsetto your chords have come slightly apart.
So Head Voice has a slightly thicker sound, while Falsetto has a more airy quality to it.
To discover your head voice, let's do an exercise. This is a simple trill that will allow you to experience your head voice.
Let's do some arpeggios with the trill, going up a semitone each time. You can follow along with me in the video at 1:11. (Press play on the video below)
And here's an audio file so you can practice along.
A big key to finding your head voice is to not push your voice as you get higher.
Instead, you need to "let go" into the higher notes.
If you are straining to get to your higher notes, you're basically forcing your chest voice upwards. This means there's no head voice coming through.
But if you let go before the higher notes, and the head voice starts to come in.
Another tip to help you to "let go" into the higher notes is to think to yourself that you're singing down into the notes.
The thinking down will help prevent you from pushing up.
Let go, and think “going down.” Once you get this, you'll find that you'll be able to find your head voice and get that sweet, round tone quality on your higher notes.
Now let's look at our Mixed voice and how you can discover a more powerful, full sound on your higher notes.
Everyone wants that mixed voice. It makes sense, because all popular music is sung pretty much in that mixed voice.
What does “mixed voice” mean, exactly?
A mixed voice means that you're combining your natural voice—which we think of more as your chest voice, because when we speak we're going to be speaking in the lowest part of our sound, typically, and that's usually considered part of our chest voice—and then as we start going higher into the higher parts of our range, we go into what's considered our head voice.
Or it can go into a falsetto, a disconnected, not connected sound that goes up much higher. But then there's that place in the middle.
How do we bring the head voice and the chest voice together, to find that mixed voice? It is all about vocal posture.
If I'm not moving my larynx around too much, if I'm not changing my position, then my vocal cords have the freedom and control to be able to adjust to bring the head voice and chest voice together.
They bring the head voice down and the chest voice up. That's the way I want you to think of it. You'll understand as you do this next exercise.
Let’s do some arpeggios. We’ll use a long “A” sound. I’m going to start off on A, and go up by semitones. You can follow along at 1:40. (Press play on the video below)
And here is the audio file so you can practice along.
When you get to the top of the arpeggio, don't push. Just bring your head voice down.
Let go of that highest note. I want you to be very conscious of that; it’s important. You’re not building up any tension or pressure. So your larynx stays in place.
If you listen carefully you'll be able to hear that I'm up in my head voice, but I'm bringing in the chest voice.
So I have a mixture.
So play around with this exercise. Have fun with it, and be patient with yourself as you're developing it.
To be the best singer you can be, it's good to have the ability to get into either your Head Voice or your Mixed Voice depending on the situation.
For a pop or rock or more modern sound you'll often want to sing with a mixed voice, so you get the sweetness of your voice as well as the power from your chest voice.
For something a little gentler though, your head voice might be just the ticket!
So practice both exercises on on this page and experiment with both parts of your voice. Before you know it you'll be able to smoothly switch from head voice to mixed voice, and vice versa.