There is a lot of confusion regarding head voice vs chest voice. What are those and how do they differ? What about falsetto? Is that the same as head voice?
In this article, we’re going to explain the differences between head voice vs chest voice, and even falsetto. We’re going to define them in simple terms and give you clear examples of what they sound like. With time, you’ll be able to not only understand them but also discern when to use which. Without further ado here is the head voice vs chest voice explained.
It’s all one thing
Chest voice and head voice are simply different places in your vocal range. However, your vocal range is just one thing, part of your one voice. This may sound contradictory but it is much more helpful to see it this way as opposed to two or even three separate entities.
For instance, a car has different gears, but they are all part of the same mechanism. You cannot drive fast in first gear and you cannot start to drive in fifth gear.
Chest voice is also what you use when you speak, in other words, your “normal voice”. It goes from your low range to about your middle range. When trained, your chest voice will sound full and resonant. As a matter of fact, if you put your hand on your chest and sing, you will feel how it resonates. Naturally, with appropriate training your chest voice (and head voice for that matter), will reach its potential and all of its qualities will be further revealed.
In simple terms, head voice is what you will use once you get past the comfortable range of your speaking voice. In other words, the head voice is what you hear when singers are on their higher register.
Now there is a lot of confusion when it comes to head voice and falsetto. Although falsetto is indeed head voice, head voice is not necessarily falsetto. You read that right. You can sing in a full head voice, with resonance in your upper register. Some singers that have great head voice include Celine Dion, Sting, and Aretha Franklin. They can all go high with control, full resonance and punch. This is also referred to as “mixed voice” or “middle voice”.
Still, struggling? Try hearing the difference:
Are you wondering what in the world is falsetto then? Well… Falsetto is simply head voice but with a breathy tone. It is that higher register that can sound vulnerable but can be truly beautiful when controlled and trained. For instance, Adam Levine from Maroon 5 is known for his falsetto. The chorus of their song Sugar has vocals in falsetto almost the entire time. In other words, middle voice and falsetto are two different ways to approach the higher range of singing.
The break is a misunderstood part of a singer’s range. It is those few notes that separate chest voice from head voice. This makes the break a somewhat tricky part of your range, as you will have to figure how to hit those notes confidently. Trained singers usually refer to the break as Passaggio. Just like everything else in music, the break requires focused practice. Try our very own Roadie Coach to be your guide along the way and help you with your singing practice.
When it comes to understanding head vs chest voice, the first step is to realize that they are part of a singer’s voice. A good performer typically has a good grasp on both. In the case of head voice, great singers can use their mixed voice or their falsetto at will. In any case, you can improve your chops as a singer by understanding how the voice works and practicing. Remember to have fun!