Thread: Falsetto?
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Old 2008-02-14, 14:15
JaimeVendera JaimeVendera is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 6
Falsetto and headvoice are NOT the same thing! Here is an article from my book raise Your Voice 2nd Edition on the subject-

Useful Tip: Simplifying Vocal Terminology
Full voice, falsetto, head voice, mixed voice… What is the difference? This question comes up a lot. So let me give you my interpretation of each classification, because teachers of varying methods will describe each tonal quality in different terms. To me, full voice is simply full voice, or your real voice. Falsetto is your false voice, or the sound used by singers like Prince and the Bee Gees.

Chest voice and head voice are both, in my opinion, just classifications of full voice—chest voice referring to the tone below the break (when resonance is felt in the chest) and head voice being up above the break (when the resonance is mainly felt in the head). Some teachers refer to head voice as a lighter voice that is a blend of full voice and falsetto. I find this term used in this manner a lot with teachers who mainly work strictly with pop and country artists.

(So in other words, head voice is your real full voice in the higher register whereas falsetto is that light breathy tone like Prince, The Bee Gees or Justin Hawkins from the Darkness)

I use the term mid-voice for the area right above the break that lasts for generally five to seven notes, or until you feel the resonance up in the head, or your head voice. One of my favorite vocal coaches, Roger Love, describes this area in range as the “middle voice”, but I believe he is referring to a blend of falsetto and full voice as opposed to full voice.

Many teachers, such as Roger, will show students how to “blend” the tones of falsetto and full voice to create a mixture of the two. Hence, terms like mixed voice and middle voice were created. In fact, one of the main exercises in this book, the Transcending Tone exercise, will show you how to take your voice from falsetto, through a blend and into your full voice, regardless of the pitch.

Bottom line: Don’t get too caught up on the terminology. Develop your voice to its fullest potential and use whatever tonality sounds the coolest to you.


Many vocal teachers classify singers by the typical break point. Depending upon which pitch your voice begins to break, you could be branded a bass, baritone, tenor, alto, or a soprano. Although I find this classification to at times put limitations on singers, I still feel the need to present the basic categorizations of these registers. Vocal classification is simply a way to categorize the range of an individual singer, usually applying emphasis to the highest note of one’s range. The following description will show the typical range and typical break point of each voice type.

The number beside each note represents the pitch of the note relative to the notes on a piano. C4, or Middle C, represents the fourth C note on a piano. C5, or Tenor C, represents the fifth C note on a piano. C6, or Soprano C, represents the sixth C note on a piano. Each individual note is numbered by the octave it represents until the next octave is reached. For example:

C4, C#4, D4, D#4, E4, F4, F#4, G4, G#4, A4, A#4, B4, C5…C6



These are all just very basic classification guidelines. We could get very technical and discuss the falsetto range, multiple break points, vocal fry, and whistle register, or differences between lyric tenor, countertenor or sopranist (an adult male who sings alto or soprano parts), mezzo-soprano, coloratura soprano and more, but these guidelines are all that you need for this book. I have also found in my teaching that a lot of baritones and tenors seem to have the same break point. The main difference being that tenors carry the sound easily higher in the beginning and the tonality is lighter. I personally believe vocal classification to be unjust. This point of view can place serious mental limitations upon a singer.

If you are to be put into a vocal class, you should be classified by your lowest note, not your highest, because it is easy to extend your upper range, but your lower range is mostly dependent on the length and thickness of your vocal cords.

Your lowest notes are produced when the vocal cords are as short and thick as possible. A man’s vocal cords are typically longer and thicker than a woman’s, resulting in a lower speaking voice. This is due to the fact that the vibrating space between the vocal cords (glottis) is larger.

The physical rule is that the smaller the vibrating space between the vocal cords, the higher the pitch. As far as high notes are concerned, the sky is the limit. Both men and women can sing soprano notes and beyond in full voice if they are willing to put in the time and effort that vocal training requires. Hopefully you won’t let yourself get caught up in the vocal classification trap because, as mentioned previously, your upper range can easily be extended through proper voice training and vocal exercises.

During my experiences in college, before I began voice training, I was classified as a bass/baritone because I could sing in the bass range and my voice cracked on an E4 (below tenor C). I felt trapped, with no hope for change. For some time, I allowed vocal classification to put limitations on me as a singer. Now I just laugh it off because I can sing many notes in the soprano range as clear as a bell, as well as low bass notes too. The next time someone talks about your break point, just laugh it off and realize that the break point is not a limitation but a minor hindrance that, as you will see in the next few chapters, can be overcome with patience, perseverance, and practice.

Useful Tip: Multiple Break Points?
Through years of teaching I have found that most singers seem to experience several break points: the initial break point that we have been discussing and what is commonly referred to as a second break, roughly six to seven notes higher than the first break. Again, it is just a coordination and strength issue; and each break should no longer be considered a break, but simply a switching of gears, so to speak. The first break is a switching of gears from chest to mid-voice and the second break is a switching of gears at the point of your mid-voice to your head voice.

Hope this helped

Jaime Vendera
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