Difference Between Chest Voice And Head Voice

The biggest problem among singers isn’t being able to hit those higher notes, hold a note for longer, or deliver more volume. It is something much more complicated and tricky: blending or “bridging” their chest voice and head voice. So what is the difference between chest voice and head voice?

Head Voice vs Chest Voice

The head and the chest are the two most common resonating areas. Try placing your hand on the top part of your chest (your sternum, or breastbone) and singing a note from the lower end of your range. Can you feel a slight vibration? Now, try singing in a high pitch. Where is the vibration now? It should feel as if the vibration is in your eyes, nose, even your forehead.

This is because your chest voice and head voice are actually in different registers. When you produce sounds that resonate in the top of your chest or throat, your vocal cords vibrate along their full length, produce long sound waves of a low pitch. When you produce sounds that resonate in your head, the ends of the vocal cords close off until only one-third their length is free to open and close. As a result they move much more rapidly, producing short sound waves of a high pitch.

You also have a middle voice. This is when about half the length of your vocal cords is free to vibrate. The best singers can move seamlessly between their chest voice, middle voice, and head voice. When you can do this, your voice is said to be connected.

You can think of the range from head voice to chest voice in this way.

  1. twang
  2. opera
  3. sob
  4. belt
  5. speaking

The top represents the strongest head voice, while the bottom of the list, your speaking voice, is almost entirely a chest voice. Some think of the middle voice as somewhere between #3 and #4—an excited and forceful sob, or a softer belt. Notice that the “type” of voice does not have a direct relationship to how high or low you are singing. You can sing the exact same pitch with your chest or your head voice. However, each type of voice adds a different quality to your singing.

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