Do you feel power in your chest voice, but tightness and a lack of agility as you sing higher?
Do you feel freedom and flexibility in your head voice, but lack that power and resonance you get in chest voice?
“Split” your voice and you can combine the freedom of head voice with the depth of chest voice.
Here’s what I mean by splitting your voice.
Imagine a glowing ball about the size of a golf ball or cue ball. Now imagine this glowing ball is your voice. (Did you see The Little Mermaid, where the evil witch took Ariel’s voice out of her throat and it was this little blue glowing ball? Just like that.)
First, chest voice. In reality, you don’t have two different voices, but it can feel like that sometimes so we use this terminology for convenience. Chest voice is the range most of us – except maybe Great-Aunt Ethel – use when speaking. It feels like it comes from the body, the chest, sometimes even the belly, like in a deep belly laugh. When you sing in chest voice, that glowing ball feels like it is in your body – your belly or your lower chest.
Now, head voice (again, it’s the same voice, but it can feel different). Head voice is a higher register of pitches. Guys, it’s the voice you use when you try to talk like a girl. For some girls, especially sopranos, it can be a more powerful register than the chest voice. Regardless, head voice feels like it “lives in” or “comes from” the head. It may not feel like it resonates much, if at all, in the body. When you sing in a light head voice, that glowing ball feels like lives in your throat or your head.
To split your voice, imagine taking that glowing ball and allowing it to double and separate. Part of it goes up to your head, and part of it moves down into your body. Got it? Take a moment, close your eyes and actually imagine this happening.
OK, now take a mid-range song and sing it three different ways:
- Imagine the glowing ball in your head
- Imagine the glowing ball in your belly
- Imagine the glowing ball split between both places
Below are some audio samples of me doing this exercise.
- In the first track, you’ll hear a lack of power and body in the voice, but plenty of ease.
- In the second track, you’ll hear more power, but some tension creeping in because this is a bit high for me to sing in an unmixed chest voice.
- In the third track, you’ll hear that tension disappear but the voice retains more body and depth than it had in the first track.
I admit this is one of the more unusual vocal technique tips. What’s really happening here? I believe that all that is going on with this exercise is that the concept of splitting your voice simply wraps up two different concepts into one visualization, which is much easier to work on than two ideas at the same time:
1) Involve your body in creating your voice, not just your head.
2) Retain the freedom of head voice while still involving your body.
(c) 2010 Adrienne Osborn