Your voice has two main registers: Chest voice and head voice. You are probably quite familiar with your chest voice already, as it is the voice that most people use when they speak, but what about your head voice?
In this blog post you will learn what head voice is, the common ways that great singers use head voice, and of course head voice exercises. You might even start practicing your first song with head voice at the end of this post. Let’s get started on geeking out!
What is Head Voice?
Your head voice, also known as the M2 register, has a lighter sound quality than the register of the chest voice. This is because only the edges of the vocal folds vibrate when we sing in a pure head voice as opposed to the chest voice where the entire body of each vocal fold vibrate. This lighter vibration of the edges of the vocal folds (also know as the ligaments) happens when the vocal folds are stretched tightly to produce high pitches.
You have probably experienced the head voice before when trying to sing a high powerful note but instead breaking into your head voice. By learning to use the head voice you can actually manage that break and even learn to sing high powerful notes by mixing your chest voice and head voice together. The first step in learning to do that is learning to use your head voice.
Songs with Head Voice
Many contemporary singers use head voice in their songs to create dynamic contrast and capture the listener emotionally. They also mix their head voice and chest voice in order to sing “effortlessly” throughout their range. I added quotations around the word effortlessly here because while it might sound effortless, mixing the registers require lots of practice for most of us.
We will tackle mixing your registers in a later blog post and focus on learning to use head voice today. Click the links below to hear songs with head voice.
Adele – Hello ( a little in the chorus and loads in the bridge)
Ingrid Michaelson – Everybody (in the chorus)
Sarah Brightman – Scarborough Fair (the whole song!)
Timbaland – Apologize ft. OneRepublic (in the chorus)
Sam Smith – Writing’s On The Wall (both in the verse and chorus)
The Benefits of Training Head Voice
Most students experience a great increase in their vocal range once they find their head voice. It makes it makes the high notes less scary and allows you to start adding contrast to your songs. You are also able to begin training the mixed voice once you can use your head voice.
Other vocal techniques can be mixed into the head voice such as twang (a powerful and insisting sound) and breathiness (a vulnerable and intimate sound). You will also be able to practice yodelling once you know how to use your head voice as a yodel is a quick switch from chest voice.
Exercises that will Help You Find Your Head Voice
- Hoot like an Owl: To find that light sound in your voice try imitating the sound of an owl several times.
- Speak to a baby: You know the voice I’m talking about here. It’s that, silly but can’t help it ’cause they are so cute, voice that you use when talking to a baby. Don’t be shy just try it out!
- Imitate a siren: Yep, that is your head voice. Make the high pitched sound of a siren “woo-oo-oo” or “we-oo-we-oo”
- Break into your head voice: Glide from a low not and keep ascending in pitch until your voice “breaks” into the register of your head voice. One there, take a minute to play around with little melodies and glides in this voice.
Exercises to Strengthen your Head Voice
- Head voice slides: Sing a note in your head voice, glide up to a note that is slightly higher note, and return back to your starting note. Keep the sound consistent through out your slide. (EE and OO vowels are great for this exercise)
- Switching between chest and head voice: Sing a note in your head voice (any vowel) and then sing a not in your head voice. Switch back and forward in this manner until your are able to make the switch easily.
- Switch between vowels in your head voice: Sing the OO vowel like in the word “Moon” and then switch to the EE vowel like in the word “See”. Start on a relatively low note in your head voice and move up by half steps every time you mastered the switch between the two vowels.
You can also sing along with this short exercise to train your head voice:
For more exercise videos follow this link:Vocal Exercise Videos
Now that you have found your head voice why not try to sing one of the songs in the previous list? Once you become used to the sound of the head voice you will start to discover that it is quite common for contemporary singers to sprinkle it into their songs.
Personally, I find the head voice a ton of fun and love the challenge in switching between the two registers. Let me know what song you chose to sing and how it want. As always bring your questions of you have and I’d love a chance to geek out on them.
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