Singing Better

Falsetto

 

It is good to work on the falsetto register to understand and gain control of the muscles that control this change in register.  Even if you don’t intend to use the falsetto register in your normal singing, it is quite helpful to work on the falsetto a bit.  So let’s talk about developing the falsetto.


FALSETTO IN WOMEN

By the way, women essentially have a falsetto register as well as men even though it is seldom called that.  If you don’t think women have a falsetto, how come women can yodel?  But in women, the break between the modal and falsetto register is not as pronounced.  Part of the reason women don’t have as much register problem as men aside from the less drastic break, is that women are more willing to accept the falsetto (or high register) and thus integrate it into their full range easier.  Also, women do not have to go thru the (basically) octave change that boys/men do at puberty so they develop more security in their voice - not having to deal with this disruptive octave change.   In this discussion we will mainly be thinking in terms of men’s voices but the same basic principles also apply to women.


DEVELOPING THE FALSETTO

How do we go about developing the falsetto? 

You need to understand that the lower part of the falsetto is harder to control than the higher pitches.  So don’t try to work it as an extension of the modal range, but instead, start at a higher pitch and work down.  Your first attempt at falsetto will probably cause a drastic break between the modal and falsetto registers.  That’s fine!  So work at whatever comes out and work down. 


Later you need to stretch your upper falsetto range. 


In addition, you should work on dynamic contrast in the falsetto.  It’s not easy to hurt your voice in falsetto by singing too loudly.  However, be a bit careful with the extreme highest notes. 


HURTING YOUR VOICE

A word about hurting your voice.  Remember you are developing muscles even though many of them are small muscles.  You’ve probably heard the slogan, “No pain, no gain” and though that is true it is also true that you can overdo it.  In forcing the voice to do more than you usually do, (and that’s the only way to develop) you need to be careful and sensitive as to how tired your voice is becoming.  A little bit of stretch is fine but then stop and let the muscles rest and recuperate.  Learn to feel how much tension there is in your voice box.  Force some tension to extend yourself but don’t overdo it or you’ll tend to break down the muscles.  Too much tension for too long a period puts toxins in your system.  Athletes understand this and that is why they give the muscles a rest to recuperate after a strenuous effort.  So too is it with singers.


FINDING YOUR FALSETTO

Some men feel that they don’t have any falsetto register.  They really do, but because of seldom use, it may be very undeveloped.  At most pitches it should come out very easily and lightly.  Don’t tense your vocal cords. Relax, think a high pitch and blow out air until a pitch comes.  It should come out very easily though initially you may want to reject the sound.  Don’t!  Instead, Experiment! 

If you still have trouble getting into your falsetto, here are some ways of finding it: 

    Squeal and then sustain that squeal pitch. 

    With much energy say “Whee”, sliding up high. 

    Yawn and then blow out a note with the stronger breath. 

    Try to yodel a couple of notes.    

    For further suggestions, see another of my Topics called: 

         “Inaccurate Singing - Children & Adults”. 

Once you get up there, as we said above, work down from the higher notes.


Work on the falsetto a bit to extend the range of your falsetto both down and up with a solid sound.  The G above Middle C on the piano is a good starting point, but any notes that comes out is fine.  The lower notes will need particular control so don’t try to start with them.  Try to develop a falsetto range of at least an octave.


Once the falsetto has been reasonably developed it’s time to work on mixing the two registers, in what is sometimes known as sotto voce” or “half voice” or “head voice”.  This is the soft high area of the modal register. 



                                   I would love to hear from you. 

                          I appreciate any comments or suggestions.

                                   tednorton@roadrunner.com