- Head voice
Head voice is a term used within vocal music. The use of this term varies widely within vocal pedagogical circles and there is currently no one consistent opinion among vocal music professionals in regards to this term. Head voice can be used in relation to the following:
* A particular part of the
vocal rangeor type of vocal register
vocal resonanceareacite book
title= The Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults
publisher= Genovex Music Group
The first recorded mention of the term head voice was around the 13th century, when it was distinguished from the throat and the chest voice (pectoris, guttoris, capitis -- at this time it is likely head voice referred to the
falsetto register) by the writers Johannes de Garlandia and Jerome of Moravia.The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians. Edited by Stanley Sadie, Volume 6. Edmund to Fryklund. ISBN 1-56159-174-2, Copyright Macmillan 1980.] The term was later adopted within bel canto, the Italian opera singing method, where it was identified as the highest of three vocal registers: the chest, passagio and head registers. This approach is still taught by some vocal pedagogists today.cite book
title= Bel Canto: A History of Vocal Pedagogy
publisher= University of Toronto Press
However as knowledge of human physiology has increased over the past two hundred years, so has the understanding of the physical process of singing and vocal production. As a result, many vocal pedagogists have redefined or even abandoned the use of the term head voice. In particular, the use of the term head register has become controversial since
vocal registrationis more commonly seen today as a product of laryngealfunction. For this reason, many vocal pedagogists argue that it is meaningless to speak of registers being produced in the head. The vibratory sensations which are felt in the head are resonance phenomena and should be described in terms related to vocal resonance, not to registers. These vocal pedagogists prefer the term "head voice" over the term "head register". These vocal pedagogists also hold that many of the problems which people identify as register problems are really problems of resonance adjustment. This helps to explain the controversy over this terminology. Also, the term head register is not used within speech pathologyand is not one of the four main vocal registers identified by speech pathologists.The following is an overview of the two predominant views on head voice within vocal pedagogy.
Differing views on head voice
Head voice and vocal registration
One prevailing practice within vocal pedagogy is to divide both men and women's voices into three registers. Men's voices are divided into "
chest register", "head register", and " falsetto register" and woman's voices into " chest register", " middle register", and " head register"."Such pedagogists teach that the head register is a vocaltechnique used in singing to describe the resonance of singing something feeling to the singer as if it is occurring in their head. It's mentioned in the Speech Level Singingmethod used in some singing. According to an early 20th century book written by David Clippinger, all voices have a head register, whether bass or soprano.cite book|last=Clippinger|first=David A.|coauthors=|title=The Head Voice and Other Problems:Practical Talks on Singing|publisher=Oliver Ditson Company|date=1917|pages= Page 12|month=|isbn = [http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/19493 at Project Gutenberg] ]
In Clippinger's 1917 book, it is stated that
maleand females switch registers at the same absolute pitches. Clippinger also states that at about E flat or E above middle C the tenor passes from what is usually called open to covered tone, but which might better be called from chest to head voice. At the same absolute pitches the alto or soprano passes from the chest to the middle register. According to Clippinger there is every reason to believe that the change in the mechanism for male voices into head register is the same as that which occurs in the female voice as it goes into the middle register at the same pitches.cite book|last=Clippinger|first=David A.|coauthors=|title=The Head Voice and Other Problems:Practical Talks on Singing|publisher= Oliver Ditson Company|date=1917|pages=Page 24|month=|isbn =]
The contemporary vocal pedagogy
instructorBill Martin seconds the view that the change from chest voice to head voice occurs at around E4 in all voices, including the bass, but Martin states in the coloratura soprano it is more likely to occur at F4. [cite book | last = Martin| first = Bill| coauthors = | title = Pro Secrets Of Heavy Rock Singing| publisher = Sanctuary Publishing| date = 2002| pages = Page 10| month = | id = ISBN 1-86074-437-0] A recent book by a former teacher at Oberlin College Conservatory of Musicand a vocal pedagogy teacher, Richard Miller; states that in the "tenore lyrico" the higher part of the singing voice above the secondo passaggioat G4 extending upwards is referred to as "full voice in head," or "voce piena in testa", effectively stating the head register begins at G4 in the "tenore lyrico," not at E4.cite book|last=Miller|first=Richard|coauthors=|title=Training Tenor Voices|publisher=Schirmer|date=1993|pages=Pages 3, 4 & 6|month=March|isbn =978-0028713977] According to Singing For Dummies, the bass changes from chest voice into middle voice around A3 or Amusic|flat3 below Middle C and changes into his head voice around D4 or Cmusic|sharp4 above Middle C. [cite web| url = http://www.dummies.com/WileyCDA/DummiesArticle/id-2014.html| title = Identifying the Fab Four of Singing Voices | accessdaymonth = 18th February| accessmonthday = | accessyear =2007 | author = Pamelia S. Phillips| publisher = Wiley Publishing| quote = "Bass" is the lowest of the voice types...]
According to Martin, in the head register that is above the chest register some of the bottom end leaves the voice, but it's still a voice capable of much power. [cite book | last = Martin| first = Bill| coauthors = | title = Pro Secrets Of Heavy Rock Singing| publisher = Sanctuary Publishing| date = 2002| pages = Page 11| month = | id = ISBN 1-86074-437-0]
According to Clippinger, often explanations for the physiological mechanisms behind the head voice alter from voice teacher to voice teacher. This is because, according to Clippinger: "In discussing the head voice it is the purpose to avoid as much as possible the mechanical construction of the instrument".cite book|last=Clippinger|first=David A.|coauthors=|title=The Head Voice and Other Problems:Practical Talks on Singing|publisher=
Oliver Ditson Company|date=1917|pages=Page 14|month=|isbn =]
However, not all vocal pedagogists agree with this view. In 1993 Thomas Appell published the book "Can You Sing a HIGH C Without Straining?" [Appell, Can You Sing a HIGH C Without Straining?: Understanding the Break, page 14] which refuted the theory that all singers switch registers at the same absolute pitch. Appell defined chest voice as resonance below the vocal folds and head voice as resonance above the vocal folds. He also recorded examples of male and female singers changing from chest voice to head voice at different pitches in an attempt to prove that the transition pitch is a function of the intensity of the vocal tone and is not absolute. At higher vocal cord tension (intensity of singing) Appell shows that the pitch at which a singer transitions from chest to head voice will be higher. At lower vocal cord tension (intensity of singing) Appell shows that the pitch at which a singer transitions from chest to head voice will be lower.
Head voice and vocal resonation
This view believes that since all registers originate in laryngeal function, it is meaningless to speak of registers being produced in the head. The vibratory sensations which are felt in the head are resonance phenomena and should be described in terms related to resonance, not to registers. These vocal pedagogists prefer the term "head voice" over the term register and divide the human voice into four registers: the
vocal fry register, the modal register, the falsetto register, and the whistle register. This view is more consistent with modern understandings of human physiology and in keeping with stroboscope videos of laryngeal function during vocal phonation.Tarneaud says, "during singing, the vibration of the vocal foldsimpresses periodic shakes on the laryngealcartilage which transmits them to the bones in the thoraxvia the laryngeal depressors, and to the bony structures in the head via the laryngeal elevators. Singers feel these shakes in the form of thoracic and facial vibrations". These internal phonatory sensations produced by laryngeal vibrations are called "resonance" by singers and teachers of singing. [cite journal
title= Study of larynx and of voice by stroboscopy
journal= Clinque (Paris)
pages= 337–341] There are seven parts of the human body that act as resonators and of those seven the three most effective resonators that help amplify and create the most pleasing sounds are all located in the head: the pharynx, the oral cavity, and the nasal cavity.For more information see
vocal resonationand vocal registration.
Ancient Vocal Method
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