How To Sing Powerful Notes In Your Mixed Voice

by C. R. Dick
(Oregon)

How can you sing with a pop sound through the passagio and not break into a classical operatic sound?

From The Editor

This is a wonderful question, and arguably one of the more important parts of your voice to develop.

What your looking for here is commonly referred to as "mixed" voice or "the mix".

What this means is you're singing in a similar coordination to when you're in head voice (with your vocal cords "zipped up" or "shortened"), but your resonance is split...

... Half in the mouth and half in the head.

Ok, let me back up and explain for a second. As what I just said was getting a little technical!

First, here's what I mean by singing on a zipped up vocal cord.

When you sing up through your range, you'll get to the point where the full length of your vocal cord cannot vibrate fast enough to get the notes as you get higher.

So in order to get the higher notes, it needs to make an adjustment.

What happens is it "shortens" in length. Just think about this as if you were playing a guitar.

When you "fret" the strings, you're making them shorter. This causes them to vibrate faster, and therefore hit a higher note.

It's the same with a piano. The higher the note, the shorter the string (if you look inside the piano).

So when you're in your mixed voice or your head voice, you're vocal cords will have shortened and you'll be singing on a smaller length of vocal cord.

When I'm talking about the resonance, I'm meaning where your sound is vibrating.

So when you're in your head voice, most of your sound is vibrating up the top of your head.

To get into mixed voice you need a slightly different positioning when it comes to the resonance.

You need to have some of your sound vibrating in your mouth, as well as some in your head.

The key is to find this balance without your vocal cords breaking apart (going into falsetto) or "pushing" your vocal cords to get the note using the full length of the cords.

So how do you do this?

Well there are certain singing exercises that make this transition possible.

I must mention though, finding your mix is one of the more difficult parts of singing.

But it's also one of the most worthwhile skills to develop, as in your mixed voice you can sing wonderful high notes that are powerful and sweet in tone quality.

One of the exercises that many singers first discover their mix in is the "lip roll".

This is because this exercise takes the strain off your voice, and allows you to move up through your vocal registers very smoothly.

If you practice this exercise you'll be able to gently experiment with "leaning into" your notes and moving some of the head resonance into your mouth.

On the video section of this website you'll find a video demonstration of the lip roll exercise, as well as many more that will help you discover your mix.

Good luck!

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Sep 14, 2016
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I second Jen
by: Anonymous

you have confused the function of the TA and CT; as you go higher your folds are lengthened, not shortened, especially when using mixed or head. Now if you are employing your chest voice, or TA muscle there will be some thickening and shortening that will contribute to a higher pitch. But for the most part the opposite of what you stated in the article is true.

Aug 24, 2016
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Vocal folds Lengthen at higher pitches
by: Jen

Hi, thank you for the article! I wanted to make a comment regarding the shortening of the vocal folds when going higher. This is simply not true...the vocal folds lengthen as a singer goes to higher pitches- the voice functions less like a piano and more like a rubber band, that when stretched, creates a higher pitch. Would you be able to explain more what you mean by the this?

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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 the voice 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 the voice 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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