All the great artists we appreciate turn to falsetto singing now and then, and they are certainly masters of it. But how hard is it to sing in falsetto without straining, and what are the best steps on how to sing falsetto?
When you hear talented singers sing falsetto, it sounds like they do it effortlessly, but it is not so simple. In fact, singing falsetto properly requires lots of practice.
However, once you understand your voice and voice range, vocal folds and learn how your body produces that voice and high notes, you will be ready to learn how to sing, practice, and brush up on your falsetto skills.
While mastering to sing in falsetto might not be easy, like every other skill, it will get simpler after a certain amount of vocal exercises.
What Is Falsetto Singing?
Falsetto is a musical term that refers to the mode of singing in high notes. These notes are beyond the normal voice register; that’s why it’s called falsetto, literally meaning ‘artificial voice,’ coming from the Italian word ‘falso’ or false. But is it always a good thing to sing in falsetto?
No, singing in falsetto isn’t always good because it sometimes happens when the singer’s voice breaks while trying to reach high notes.
When that happens, the voice loses its power to sing high notes, and vocal cords fall apart. However, anyone should hear a difference between good and bad falsetto, and here we will talk about a falsetto that you can create and control.
So How Does a Proper Falsetto Sound?
A proper falsetto voice produces a full, sultry, and hollow sound, and it gives singing a rather airy and breathy texture. Perhaps it is best to imagine some singers using falsetto voices, such as Michael Jackson, Jonsi Birgisson, or Thom Yorke.
Even though it is commonly considered that falsetto includes only male voices, the term also refers to female falsetto singing. It is because it is often confused with a “head voice.”
Falsetto vs Head Voice
Although falsetto voice and head voice have often been used interchangeably, they are nowadays considered two different singing modes. However, they refer to different singing styles, the same notes in the voice’s upper registers.
The head voice is a way of singing at a high voice level, and in doing so, mild vibrations and ringing in the head might occur, hence the name “head voice.” Thin vocal folds create the head voice. Nevertheless, head voice is fuller, stronger, and more coordinated than falsetto.
Falsetto voice is a thinner sound and is strictly in the ‘head’ and only uses the thin, leading edges of the vocal folds to vibrate.
Head voice can be defined as a mix of chest voice and head voice, which is generally a stronger sound than falsetto. The head voice, if done right, comes out as soft and unstrained.
Using head voice, you can feel the vibrations physically with your hand. It goes through your throat, mouth and ends up as the vibration of the cords you feel, hence the head voice.
Falsetto voice demonstrates how a contraction of the muscles in the neck and chest helps to expand or contract the vocal cords, resulting in high-pitched or low-pitched notes.
So are falsetto and head voice different? Yes, they are two completely different things. Furthermore, it might seem easier to turn to falsetto when trying to sing a higher note, but it is not simple.
Reaching a proper pitch requires skill and practice, but some vocal exercises can make the process of mastering the sound easier.
How to Sing Falsetto Properly
Before starting to sing falsetto exercises, it is important to understand your vocal range and voice type.
You can really sing tone only if you hit the proper pitch naturally and without cracking and to find your vocal range, you should first find your lowest and highest note.
The highest and lowest notes can easily be found by hitting the middle C on the keyboard (or your mobile app) and moving down until you hit the note; you can only sing with a “breathy” voice.
Once you translate your vocal range into a voice type (and become a soprano, tenor, or else), you can approach necessary exercises prepared and confident. On the other hand, it is possible to stretch your range, but more on that later on.
Find Your Falsetto
After finding your vocal range, you should find your falsetto, or rather understand where it’s positioned in your vocal register. Firstly, you should start playing with high-pitched voices and try to reach a high note.
What also helps is trying to imitate certain people (singers or actresses) or even cartoon characters. That way, you can see how your voice acts in different roles and how far it can go. You should also use the “ee” or “oo” sound while practicing.
Why Does the Voice Change in Falsetto?
When practicing falsetto, your voice will sound different and much more “airy.” Because of the vocal cords – they are basically a pair of rubber-like tissues in the larynx (voice box) and are controlled by two main muscle groups: external and internal muscles.
When you’re in falsetto, vocal cords aren’t completely closed, allowing air to go through them.
To better understand what happens with your vocal cords when you sing falsetto, you can imagine a stringed instrument. When you pull strings tighter and thinner, you will get a higher-pitched sound. It’s the same with vocal cords, so if you pull vocal cords thinner, they will create a falsetto voice.
So how does falsetto actually work? First of all, you need to begin to practice your voice to be completely relaxed. If you put too much pressure or don’t have your muscles relaxed enough, it will simply not work.
So stand up straight, take a few deep breaths, and think about how your arms, shoulders, jaw, and stomach are slowly getting lighter.
As in any singing practice, adequate breathing technique is crucial. If you can control the air which you inhale, you will be able to use it better. It is also useful to learn how to control your diaphragm, so you can feel the air in your lungs and use it in your singing however it suits you.
As previously explained, vocal cords control the way your voice comes out, so mastering its movements is important to reach the wanted pitch and for exercises to have the best result.
What happens next?
Start by singing few higher notes in your vocal range. If your voice goes straight to falsetto, you should stop – now focus on that first note, after which you switched to falsetto and try to sing it in your usual head voice. Be patient, and don’t strain yourself.
Now you should move to the note before that one, so the one that you can sing in your normal voice smoothly. Sing that note in a falsetto, and practice it; it will give you an idea of how your proper falsetto sounds.
Now you can move up your range, do the same thing, and practice the falsetto on the note you normally wouldn’t have to. That way, you will be able to switch to falsetto willingly.
After you try these steps, you can continue with practicing while concentrating on high notes. The more you practice singing them, the more you will be in control of your vocal cords.
Also, try to be creative – impersonate Minnie Mouse, make the concert audience’s “woo!” sound, or pretend you are in the Lord of The Rings soundtrack choir. With time, you will find your own authentic falsetto voice and become in full control of it.
Falsetto Tips and Tricks
With proper and continuous exercises, you can master anything, and falsetto singing is no different. However, there are some tips and tricks that will make you the master of the craft a little bit quicker:
1) As previously mentioned, it is essential to relax before starting singing, but you should also keep your lungs expanded and maintain your posture while singing. Also, try to be mindful of your larynx – try to keep it down.
2) While you practice, you should do it quietly at first. After feeling more confident, you can work on increasing the volume little by little while singing.
3) When in falsetto, try to feel the tone in your sinuses and forehead. Visualize the tone moving upwards and forward, and let it flow freely out of your body.
4) In the beginning, don’t bother with vibrato. Even most talented and skilled professionals don’t easily combine falsetto and vibrato, so you should leave it later when you feel more confident.
What if it Doesn’t Work?
If you start to sing and the voice sounds bad and squeaky during the exercise, don’t worry. Stop for a minute, close your eyes, and start relaxing your body again. Open your head, keep the air flowing, and start again.
If your voice suddenly cracks, that is also completely normal. If you’re playing with your vocal range like that, it will most likely eventually happen. Once you get a grip on how your vocal cords act, it will be much easier.
If you think you sound weak, that is also to be expected. After all, it is falsetto; the name itself suggests that it is not your natural singing voice, and it might seem weaker than your chest voice, but perhaps you need to get used to it or begin to like that style of singing.
If anything of the above happens, be persistent and keep practicing. Singing is a craft, it is a skill, and even if you are lucky to have a natural talent, you need to practice to learn how to be in control of your own voice and tune with your own body.
Once you feel more comfortable with your falsetto and your voice is not cracking so often anymore, you should move forward and start to strengthen it. At first, your falsetto might sound quiet or weak, and that is alright. However, you can make it stronger and louder.
It would be best if you tried putting your soft palate up like in a yawn and shaping your mouth in a circle. Standing in front of a mirror while doing it might help. Also, let your voice flow, remember all the tips and tricks about controlling the air, and let it go while keeping your chin up.
What is also very important is to be conscious of what kind of exercise suits you. Take breaks; if it becomes too much, take your own time. With persistent practicing, you will maintain strength in your upper register, become more flexible with your voice, and improve your falsetto.
Can Falsetto Be Bad For Your Voice?
Since the falsetto register is a part of your natural voice, nothing bad can happen if you do it properly, even though it goes out of your vocal range. However, you have to be mindful of your singing exercises, educate yourself, and not push it too hard.
Like in any kind of singing, the overuse of voice can lead to chronic voice fatigue and consequently damage vocal cords. Therefore, practice the falsetto singing safely and in shorter periods of time.
Like any other skill, falsetto singing can be mastered with lots of patience, practice, and persistence. Once you get to know your voice type and vocal range, you will be able to practice more easily, and if you first educate yourself, you will understand what is happening in your body while you’re singing.
Once you know how falsetto really works, you will control the air in your lungs and use your body in your favor. With time, the amazing body memory that we all have will enable you to be creative with your singing and to enjoy it truly.
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