When starting out it is very common for singers to have questions about the difference between falsetto and head voice. Both techniques cover the high register of the human voice and can be easily confused. This article will go over the difference between falsetto and head voice and clear up any confusion you may have!
What Range Do Falsetto and Head Voice Cover?
Both falsetto and head voice refer to notes sung above the passaggio (main bridge, transition) of the voice. These notes constitute the extended range and are higher in pitch than the speaking (chest) voice.
What Is Falsetto?
Falsetto is characterized by an airy and light tone. Falsetto translates to “false voice” and can be experienced by simply speaking in a cartoonishly high register. A hallmark of falsetto is that it feels relatively easy to create. This is because there is no connection of the vocal cords in falsetto, hence the airy texture.
When singing above your passaggio, see if you can crescendo on a note. If you cannot get much louder without your note falling apart, you are in falsetto, not head voice.
To be clear, falsetto is NOT a bad vocal technique! It has its uses and is very popular as a colouring method in popular music.
What is Head Voice?
Head voice is characterized by a connected and controlled tone in the higher registers. Unlike falsetto, head voice is a purer tone and can be very dynamic. With head voice, a singer can crescendo and decrescendo. They can also create “mixed” tones that combine different amounts of chest and head resonance.
Head voice can be harder for singers to discover and in general takes more training to master than falsetto.
When Should A Singer Use Falsetto?
Falsetto should be thought of as a colour texture. There are very few singers who use falsetto as their primary vocal sound, however there are exceptions.
Falsetto is a great way to add intimacy and sensitivity to a specific lyric. The light and breathy texture can create the experience of singing directly into the listeners ear.
Instead of belting out a higher note by default, give it a try in falsetto and see how it changes the feeling of the song!
When Should A Singer Use Head Voice?
Head Voice can be thought of as the primary connection type for approaching super high notes in popular music. Since it is a connected sound, the fullness of a head voice tone depends on how much or how little chest resonance and volume are added.
Once singers are comfortable in their head voice they should try to experiment with how much head and chest resonance they are using. Certain songs can benefit from a chestier head voice, where as others will come to life with a light and pure head tone.
Can A Singer Improve Their Falsetto?
Like all vocal techniques, falsetto is about finding a balance. Though a disconnected sound, the tone of a singer’s falsetto can still be shaped by placement and airflow.
Singers should attempt to explore their placement and resonance in their falsetto in order to find what sounds they prefer in their own voice.
Can A Singer Improve Their Head Voice?
Improving head voice is one of the greatest things a popular music singer can do for their technique! A stronger are more connected head voice will allow for extended range and more in depth tone colouring.
The trick to gaining strength in head voice is all about connection and experience! Exercises that focus on connecting the vocal cords above the break without pulling up chest voice work wonders.
Falsetto and head voice both have their merits and place in a singers vocal tool kit. If you are serious about improving both of these techniques contact to us to work with one of Toronto’s best vocal coaches! Together, you will be able to create a vocal growth plan that is tailored to your specific voice.