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Q: Falsetto ( Answered,   5 Comments )
Subject: Falsetto
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Music
Asked by: musicredtrail-ga
List Price: $55.00
Posted: 17 Feb 2006 05:19 PST
Expires: 19 Mar 2006 05:19 PST
Question ID: 446889
My question is actually consisted of two parts:

1) How do you recognize a more complex falsetto?

I mean I can tell falsetto in r'n'b/pop songs and many other different
styles, but I can't put my finger on falsetto in metal songs for
example. I mean it really sounds like a head voice, so how can you
tell if a certain part is sung in falsetto? Like is there a certain
way of telling, I've noticed that there's an 'uh' sound at the end of
each falsetto part in metal songs that I know are falsetto. Is this a
proper way of recognizing it?

2) How can I accomplish reinforced falsetto? or give my falsetto more
resonance? how to mix it with the head voice. Also I would like to
know how does using head voice feel? I want to know when I'm into head
voice or falsetto (I know how falsetto feels, but sometimes I get more
resonance and I just get confused).

Subject: Re: Falsetto
Answered By: guillermo-ga on 28 Feb 2006 23:53 PST
Hello Musicreditrail-ga,

As someone who tries to sing, I felt really appealed by your question.
The doubts about falsetto and its relation to head voice are very
frequent among singers -- even some coaches. Many directly think that
falsetto and head voice are two names for the same technique -- which
is not so, and you are aware of that, simplifying our approach to the

So, how to tell the difference between them?

Having done an extended search on the web, I think that this passage
posted in English at the French website L'Atelier du Chanteur
) by Lloyd W. Hanson, DMA; Professor of Voice at the Pedagogy School
of Performing Arts at Northern Arizona University, covers all the
aspects you want to clarify as posted in your question:

"The modern definition of falsetto is a voice production in which the
vocalis muscles (for simplicity's sake the thyro-arytenoids) are
inactive and lengthened greatly by the action of the crico-thyroid
muscles which are at their nearly maximum contraction. The sound is
produced by the air blowing over the very thin edges of the
thyro-arytenoids and the pitch is controlled mostly by a regulation of
the breath flow. If, at any time, the thyro-arytenoids began to resist
this extreme lengthening of themselves and provide some resistance to
the action of the cryco-thyroids, the vocal mechanism begins to move
into head voice.

"The sound of the falsetto voice is weak in overtones and produces no
singer's formant. This is because the very thin edges of the
lengthened vocal folds, which do not display any tension in opposition
to the stretching action of the thyro-arytenoids, are easily blown
open by the breath and offers little resistance to the breath flow.

"The sound of the head voice, however, is richer in overtones and has
the potential to produce a substantial singer's formant. In other
words, it has a 'ring'. This is caused by the increased tension of the
thyro-arytenoids which creates a 'tighter' and more substantial edge
to the vocal folds which, in turn, resists the flow of breath and
builds a more noticeable pressure below the vocal folds (subglottal
pressure). The male singer can easily sense this difference in breath
pressure between the true head voice and the falsetto.

"It is possible to move gracefully between the falsetto and the head
voice. If the male singer can gradually increase the activity of the
thyro-arytenoids in resistance to the stretching action of the
crico-thyroids the tone will change from the flute-like quality of the
falsetto to the ringing sound of the head voice and the singer will
also experience the increase in subglottal pressure. It is a bit of
vocal gymnastics that not all singers can achieve. It is also an
ability that is not necessary. This change from falsetto to head voice
(or, for that matter, from head voice to falsetto) is not the heart of
the mezza-voce or sotto-voce sound. These latter techniques have much
to do with a change in the resonance spaces for the singer. In other
words, mezza-voce and sotto-voce are more involved with changes in
resonance of the voice than they are with phonational changes of the

"The vowels have a strong effect on the transition from chest voice to
head voice. The point at which the male singer enters into a 'call' or
'shouting' voice as he ascends the scale on the [a] vowel is usually
considered to be the lowest or first point of his passaggio or bridge
into head voice [primo passaggio]. The singer may be able to extend
this 'call' voice about another fourth upward at which point he will
usually switch into falsetto (if he is an untrained singer) or head
voice (if properly trained) and this is his topmost or second point of
his passaggio or bridge into head voice [secondo passaggio]. The
difference between these two register activity points is known as the
'zona di passaggio'. However, if the same exercise is attempted in the
[i] vowel the male singer will move into 'call' voice and change into
head voice about a minor (or major) third lower. This is the effect of
the vowel on the register change."

Additionally, you may want to listen so a few samples which are
recorded at the John Henny Vocal Studio website, one of them specific
to compare head voice and falsetto:

I hope this answer meets what you were expecting. Otherwise please let
me know by requesting clarification and we'll surely work it out.
Thanks for your question.


Subject: Re: Falsetto
From: myoarin-ga on 01 Mar 2006 04:02 PST
Very interesting, Guillermo.  I had been wondering what would appear
after the question was locked so long.  Have to try that in the shower
Subject: Re: Falsetto
From: magnesium-ga on 01 Mar 2006 11:59 PST
This is one of the most interesting questions & answers I have seen on
GA. Very well done, Guillermo.
Subject: Re: Falsetto
From: guillermo-ga on 01 Mar 2006 15:40 PST
Thanks Myoarin and Magnesium for the comments.

Myoarin, I'm glad to have contributed to make your shower-singing more
educated -- maybe your family will be glad to ;)
Subject: Re: Falsetto
From: myoarin-ga on 01 Mar 2006 16:44 PST
I rather doubt that they will be.  Luckily, on Thursdays my wife is at
her Italian course when I come home from tennis.  Now, if I only had
the tune to "Gasolina"...
Subject: Re: Falsetto
From: myoarin-ga on 01 Mar 2006 17:01 PST
Oh, Musicredtail-ga, I perhaps shouldn't have posted an "aside"
comment to your question before you returned.  Please don't let the
light banter distract from the quality and pertinence of the answer to
your question.
Since you asked about the possible significance of the "uh" sound at
the end of phrases, from my little exposure to voice training in a
choir, I have learned that extraneous sounds at the start or end of a
sung phrase are a not uncommon idiosyncracy of untrained singers (but
not necessary or desirable in formal singing).
Regards, Myoarin

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