Updated: Oct 31
Bridging the Gap Between Your Lower and Higher Notes
Singing is an art form that transcends language and culture, captivating audiences with its unique blend of beauty and emotion. Everyone with a voice and the inclination is able to sing - and able to sing well. So why do some of us find it difficult and others find it much easier? Working as, and with, a professional singer for more than twenty years, I have found that where most people tend to get stuck is in the belief that they can’t sing high or low notes. And I have learned that, for most people, this is simply not true. I this article I will lift the curtain on why you may be struggling to free the true beauty of your voice and how you can improve your singing with a few simple tweaks.
Think of your vocal range as a spectrum, chest and head registers on opposite ends. We have four voice registers: fry, which sounds like a creaking door. The chest register, which is where our speaking voice sits, for most of us. Head register is the ‘sing’, ‘choir-like’ sound and whistle/falsetto is right at the top - the very high notes. What identifies the different registers is not only the sound, but also the physiological make up of the vocal cords when vocalising in each register. In fry, your vocal cords are loose and ‘rattle’ irregularly. In the other registers your vocal cords pulsate more regularly and change in thickness. Your vocal range is the variety of lower, middle and high pitches that you can sing easily. Rather than being physically low or high, those names relate to the frequencies of the pitch. When you imagine the notes to sit on the same level and stretch out side to side, instead of low to high, you will be less likely to ‘reach’ for the sounds at the extreme ends of the spectrum.
Watch how the vocal cords work in this video
This, along with the changes in resonance and where the sounds are made, are what create the different sounds in our singing voice. When we get to grips with how our voice work it’s much easier for us to work with our voice, rather than trying to force it to do something it wasn’t designed to do. In this article I will explain how you can blend your registers to create a smoother tone and a strong, powerful singing voice.
For the purposes of this article, we will stick to the blending of the chest and head voices, which is where register blending typically begins. Picture your vocal range as a gradient in your body, where your lower pitches reside in your chest register and your higher pitches reside in your head. Using imagery like this will hep you to grasp the concepts and develop a seamless blend between your vocal registers.
Follow this video for more understanding of the four vocal registers and resonance:
Resonance is the heart of great singing, and understanding how it works can be transformative to your progress as a singer.
Resonance can be understood as the different places where sound is made inside our bodies. When you think of your entire body as an instrument, much like a guitar, you can understand how the different parts of your body work together to create the beautiful sounds - and the less beautiful sounds - that we hear when we sing. Put simply, your voice echoes in the various ‘chambers’ in your body, vibrating at different speeds, to literally create music!
Listen to Your Voice
In music, listening is even more important than playing or singing. When you listen to your voice you can literally tune in to what it’s doing and how the sounds are being made. When you also lock in with the physical feeling of producing sound, you can become one with your voice and start to make magic.
When in chest voice, you will hear lower notes and feel the sound resonates from your chest area. As you transition to head voice, the frequencies increase and the resonance shifts upwards, vibrating in your head and face. You can train your ears to discern these nuances relatively quickly and associate the feelings with the sounds you are creating.
Establish and Maintain Vocal Control
Vocal control is the key to seamlessly transitioning between registers. This involves fine-tuning your pitch, volume, and timbre.
Picture a control panel with sliders for pitch, volume, and timbre. In chest voice, you can adjust the pitch slider lower and the volume higher. When you venture into head voice, raise the pitch slider, slightly lower the volume and reduce the amount of air you use to produce the sound. This will help to maintain vocal control and avoid vocal cracks and breaks. When you practise this regularly you will find that you willl develop a smoother, more pleasant sounding vocal tone.
Energy over Effort
The biggest mistake that most people make when they sing is that they put far too much effort into singing. Many of us believe that pushing and forcing sound is the key to powerful singing, but in fact, the opposite is true. Bring energy into your singing by holding an ‘inner’ smile. Remember how much you love singing and convey the message in the lyrics through your emotional connection to the story.
Practice, Patience, and Perseverance
In your journey to a stronger singing voice, remember that practice is your greatest ally. Consider your practice sessions as your stairway to mastery. With each step, you gain a deeper understanding of your voice, resonances, and controls.
Practice is just like a physical workout. Just as athletes hone their bodies, you're honing your instrument. Feel the progress in your muscles, in the way your energy flows with ease.
Your voice is a canvas, and each session adds a new stroke of colour and depth to your instrument. Your development as a singer to blend is a masterpiece in the making.
Ultimately, blending your vocal registers is not just a technical feat; it's a transformation of your voice into a mesmerising, versatile, and expressive instrument. Your unique voice becomes your signature, captivating your audience and taking them on a journey of emotion and sound. So listen, feel and enjoy your voice and let its beauty shine.
Ready to let your voice soar? Follow this tutorial to start blending your head and chest registers and open up your voice: