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There are a lot of ideas about falsetto and head voice out there, and I know it can be not very clear. So if you’re confused about it, keep on reading because I will tell you exactly what’s the difference between head voice and falsetto, and how to use them to make your songs better.
When we talk about head voice and falsetto, we are talking about a voice register that is generally above our chest voice.
(See demonstrations in the video!)
At the level of voice production, the difference is that the vocal cords close in a different way in falsetto and in head voice.
When you’re singing in your head voice, you are engaging the vocal cords in a different way. The TA muscle is engaged, as well as the CT muscle, and there is a full closure of the vocal cords. As a result, you get a ‘cleaner’ sound. In falsetto, the vocal cords don’t fully come together and as a result, you hear a more ‘breathy’ sound.
Well, it depends. In terms of vocal health, well, we could say that singing in head voice (with good technique) is a little bit more healthy. But in terms of aesthetics, it depends on your taste and the taste of your listeners! It is your choice. Ideally, when you are a trained singer you want to be able to choose your sound to better suit the songs you are singing. Sometimes a falsetto sound will be more appropriate, and sometimes other sounds will be better suited to the effects you want to get in the listener.
But as a trained singer, you should be able to choose your options to support the communication and interpretation, and not because it is the only option you have available or the easier one.
Something to realize here is that when you sing in your falsetto range, your volume is going to be a little bit lower. Don’t try to force it because if you try to force a falsetto, you’re going to be sending a lot of pressure to vocal cords that are not fully closing and you will damage your voice (and you will still not get more volume!)
So to give you a practical example, a really good use of falsetto happens in the song Everytime sung by Britney Spears. In the first part of the song, there is quite a bit of falsetto happening and it really suits what she is trying to say in the song.
One way that you can switch from falsetto to head voice, to give your voice a workout and to train the different possibilities that your voice has, is to change the way you organize your book tract. For example, for a falsetto, you can probably find it by relaxing your lips a bit when you are singing those higher sounds (again, not super healthy so don’t do it for too long). If you sing the same notes or phrases but this time you engage your lips and let your jaw open more in an ‘available’ manner (without forcing), you will probably be switching to a fuller voice. You can see me demonstrating that in the video.
In the singing world, you’re going to hear a lot that falsetto is not something you want. And yes, you don’t want to train it in your ‘vocal technique’ area. You can reserve it for your stylistic practice, or for your song practice, but definitely not to vocalize!
Even when you practice it as a vocal stylistic element or in songs, don’t try it for too long because it will weaken your voice. And if you do use it, make sure that you train it in the ‘healthiest’ possible way! If you are stuck you can book a lesson with me. Also, make sure you properly warm up your voice and cool down your voice, as well as maintain general health, to make the most of your practice and keep your voice healthy.
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