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Nice comments by Mylio and if you do a search, you will find lots of ideas

January 3 2008 at 10:00 AM

TS  (Login Toreadorssong)
NFCS Member

Response to Cultivating the mixed voice (mixing head in)

Understand the situation. From the info you give, you are coming from a bottom heavy production. For someone who sang baritone for 20 years and now singing dramatic tenor, I feel your pain.

Whatever you do, don't seek some quick fix. In the words of Beverly Sills: "There are no short cuts to any place worth going."

The issues are basically three-fold:

1) The at rest fold length must become a tad longer. That means more stretching, less thickening. One way to get rid of thickness is by practicing at softer dynamics. It is easier to get to the top with a lighter approach. Lower volume decreases subglottic pressure and reduce vocalis activity. With less vocalis activity, the folds can stretch more easily and higher pitches easier.

2)The resonance adjustment across the passaggio can be called "mixed" because in this range (roughly between C#4 and G4, depending on vowel) you have to balance between two formants. Ex: C#4 is the balancing point for the [i] vowel. The second formant (let's say head voice for a more traditional language) becomes "dominant". This means you start to feel the head resonance more than the chest, but the chest is still influencing the tone. So it is important for the larynx not to rise here. If it does the first formant will rise and the chest voice will fight for dominance. The same thing occurs for the [a] vowel around F4.

3) Breathing in the passaggio becomes a very important issue. While you might be able to get away with less good breathing in the chest range, the formant and muscular balance necessary for the passaggio requires careful balance in breathing. If you have a good intake of breath, your job is basically to keep that expansion wherever there are ribs. All bony areas of the torso must remain expanded, then allow the soft part of the torso to do what it wants. Your body is programed to respond to your breath needs just by desire. The need to push and pull is a sign that something is already off at the laryngeal level.

Now as to exercises, you want exercises that influence balance between head and chest. From A natural do a five-note scale up and down on the [e-E] vowel spectrum. Take it up by half-steps. The [i-e-E] vowel spectrum is very friendly to the passaggio. But you must be flexible with the vowels. Instead of thinking of a single vowel, thank of a range of vowels and move between them. Ex: ABC#DEDC#BA --> EEeeEeeEE; CDEFGFEDC --> EeEeIeEeE.

This sounds a little pedantic, but it is one way to become aware of the difference between head-dominant (F2) resonance and chest-dominant F1 resonant. The two scales above help to move easily into the head-dominance sensation providing the phonation is not heavy. So it's important to sing a well-supported mp or mf max. If you are dealing with a heavy voice, you should avoid f singing in this exercise. Eventually, you'll find that forte does not have to be heavy. Once you start to feel how the resonance sensation feels like, you will start modifying vowels appropriately to get into the top voice. Once the passaggio is free and smooth, the top notes become a lot easier.

This may take some time depending on how heavy your voice is.

Any kind of exercise that encourages light mechanism is good. Sometimes we confuse a light head voice for falsetto because it feels easy. If you can crescendo it a little it is probably head voice. So do light head voice messa di voce (crescendo diminuendo). Go as far as the voice will allow without tension building up. It will grow in time.

One could write a book just about this issue.


Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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