Whether you’re an aspiring professional singer or just someone who loves to sing in the shower, it is important that you make an effort to sound good. Most untrained singers sing without giving so much thought on technicalities. This is very different from professional artists. You would often hear technical terms circulating musical circles that you might not be familiar with yet.
In this article, we’ll focus on introducing you to the differences between chest voice vs head voice, as well as the other vocal registers.
Chest Voice vs Head Voice
When we say chest or head voice, we don’t mean that the sound comes from either the chest or the head. Rather, the sound is a product of the vocal cord vibrations called sympathetic vibrations. These vibrations are then intensified inside your pharynx and mouth.
The chest and the head are where you experience the sensation every time you sing. This is the result of the vibrations coming from the vocal folds. You will feel the vibrations depending on which voice register you are using for a particular part of the song.
Let us take a closer look at each voice registers to understand them better.
What Is Chest Voice?
The chest voice is the full and low register produced by your vocal cords. It sounds warmer to the ears without cracks or breaks. This voice is usually felt in your chest cavity. It is also the same tone and range that we normally use when we are speaking.
You have to exert the right amount of power and airflow for this voice register to produce a vibrant and full sound. The chest voice is considered as the basis of a well-developed singing voice. If your chest register is weak, your voice will sound powerless.
What Is Head Voice?
The head voice or your upper register is the one at play when you start singing higher notes. This is also when you feel the vibrating sensation in your head. Your upper range is generally produced by your head voice as you develop the correct vocal techniques. Initially, the head voice doesn't sound as natural as the lower register. Hence, developing your head voice is vital if you want to reach high notes without putting too much tension on your vocal cords.
The head voice is that sharp and bright tone from your vocal cords without the breathiness found in falsetto. It is every singer’s weapon when it comes to adding extra octaves to their vocal range and reaching higher notes.
Other Vocal Registers
A vocal register is the scope of tones in your voice coming from various vibration patterns as produced by your vocal cords. The vocal folds vibrate in different ways, depending on the kind of register used at a particular time.
Below are the other most distinct vocal registers created by the vocal folds, aside from the ones previously discussed.
This register is the typical kind used in singing and speaking. A well-trained artist can produce sounds coming from two different octaves in modal voice. As the tone rises, the vocal folds are stretched with increasing tension, which creates thinner edges but can produce a beautiful sound of impressive variety.
This register produces a shallow frequency when it comes to singing. This frequency is not normally found in modal voice. Vocal fry is not commonly used in singing except for male groups that require four different tones in the musical arrangement. The vocal cords are relaxed and stretched with small openings in between as it produces the low-frequency sound.
This register is typically found on top of the modal voice, sometimes overlapping it by one octave and is sometimes called the false voice. It has a flute-like sound but with limited tone quality and dynamic variations, which is more associated with male singers. The thinner edges of the vocal cords interact, producing a high and breathy sound that makes it hard for the singer to switch to another register without noticing the break smoothly.
This register is also known as the bell or flute and is the highest kind known to the female voice since it can produce a tone that is similar to a whistle. The singer only uses a few of her vocal cords in the whistle register as she produces a bird-like or high-pitched squeaky sound.
Full Voice Singing Benefits
If you want to perform in front of an audience, it is beneficial to sing in your full voice, showcasing the power of your voice in each note.
Here are some other reasons why it is better to perform using your full voice.
Training Your Vocal Cords
If you continuously sing weakly, you will lose the range and power of your voice after some time. This is because your vocal cords will get used to the way you are producing a sound. Since vocal cords are also muscles, they will become weak if they will not get the proper exercise they need to become stronger.
It does not necessarily mean that you have to be loud and all-powerful while using your full voice. However, it will help you become a versatile performer if you can control your vocals better.
Beautiful Tone Quality
When your vocal cords are tightly drawn to each other while singing high notes, it can produce a better tone quality as the sound and flavor of your voice are all present and complete. You can still use falsetto in singing but only as an added flavor to a song and not for the entire performance, especially for pop songs.
Vocal Power and Penetration
Some singers disregard the significance of allowing their full voice to be heard on top of the music and letting their audience listen to them better, especially when using a microphone. They tend to control the amount of sound their voice creates, thinking that the microphone can magnify its tone instead of letting the power of their vocals reach their audience.
Great Audience Experience
If your goal is to be a great performer adored by your audience, then you have to showcase your full voice, allowing them to hear the power and intensity it offers. Your audience knows and feels your performance and can tell if you are holding back your voice and not singing with full power. In addition, your audience will not enjoy hearing a poor performance with weak vocals.
1. How do I make my head voice sound like a chest voice?
In between the head and chest voices is another voice register called mix or middle voice. This is where you can make the head voice sound like a chest voice by blending them through the mastery of the proper breathing technique. Once you learn to seamlessly blend and transition from the chest voice to the head voice is when you have found your mixed voice. It may not sound as full and vibrant as the chest voice at first, but through constant practice, you will be able to produce a more substantial head voice that sounds like your chest register.
2. Does vocal range include head voice?
Your vocal range is the extent of notes that your voice can produce from the lowest to the highest. If you hit the right notes in a song using your head voice, you can say that it is within your vocal range.
3. How can I get a full voice?
A full voice is sometimes called a chest voice, and when a singer sings in full voice, it means that she is belting the high notes. Belting literally means singing high and loud through the chest voice or through the diaphragm. The best way to achieve having a full voice is through constant practice, but not to the extent that you put your voice under a lot of pressure. You can sing in your full voice by engaging your diaphragm instead of using your chest voice, which can strain your voice and cause discomfort.
4. What does chest voice feel like?
When you use your chest voice in singing or speaking, you will feel the vibrations or sensations from your chest, thus its name. Utilizing your chest voice should always feel comfortable and natural without any feeling of discomfort.
5. Should my chest vibrate when I sing?
It is quite normal to feel vibrations on your chest when you are using your chest register. The sensation that you feel on your chest is the vibrations made by the vocal cords as you speak or sing at low frequency.
Understanding your voice, which involves knowing the difference between chest voice vs head voice and how to use each one efficiently, can make a big difference in your singing. You can easily reach the maximum potential of your voice by ensuring that you are hitting the right note at a comfortable range without pushing your limit.
Every singer has a distinct vocal range and singing style. What you need to do is to ensure that you can produce warm tones that are full and rich, whatever voice register you wish to use.
If you are a beginner and just starting to take action in improving your talent, you can try some vocal exercises that will help you develop effective vocal techniques.