Head Voice

Head Voice
Flickr: Vincent van der Heijden

Often mistaken for falsetto, your head voice instead takes advantage of the natural resonance area inside your head that produces a full, weighty tone. When done properly it doesn’t sound forced or overly fake, but instead adds depth to your vocals when you sing at the higher registers. Understanding the anatomy behind it and learning to use it effortlessly expands your singing repertoire and broadens your vocal horizons.

Finding Your Head Voice
Typical singing comes from the chest and diaphragm. A raised larynx indicates that you are using your chest, diaphragm or slipping into a falsetto. A simple exercise performed in front of a mirror can help you overcome this difficulty so you can find your true head voice.

  1. Stand in front of a mirror. Sing a few lines from the diaphragm or chest and locate your larynx moving in your throat. If you can not see your larynx, apply gentle pressure to your throat as you sing until you feel it moving with each note.
  2. Raise your voice, an octave at a time, until you hit the higher registers. Chances are, once you reach the extent of your natural range, your larynx will continue to rise and you will slip into a falsetto.
  3. Continue to sing above your natural range, but consciously attempt to without allowing your larynx to rise. With practice your larynx will remain in one place and you will begin to naturally sing with a head voice instead of in falsetto.

The Anatomy Behind the Voice
High notes and the falsetto range put stress on your larynx because your chest and throat muscles tighten. This results in a light, airy sound that doesn’t lend the power necessary to many rock, metal and pop songs. A head voice gets its power from the resonance in the pharynx, which is the passage that connects your nasal passages to your larynx. When done properly the power and strength behind your head voice comes from the resonance in this passageway and not from stress caused by a rising larynx.

Open Your Throat
If your chest still feels tight or you can’t get your larynx to stop rising, work on opening your throat before attempting to use your head voice. Often a closed throat prevents full use of your vocal chords and control of larynx, so singing comes from the chest instead. Start each practice session with a simple throat opening exercise. Simply sing the word “yow” moving up down the notes in the lower register. Sing lightly at first, don’t force it, until you feel your throat begin to open. Once relaxed you can increase the power behind your voice and begin moving higher up the register before moving on a to a head voice exercise.

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