To most people, falsetto and head voice are just one and the same thing. However, in contemporary music, the two could be entirely two different things.
The head voice is achieved when the singer sings with an open throat and a lower larynx. Falsetto voice, on the other hand, is achieved when the vocal folds are stretched to their maximum.
When you are singing falsetto there is no natural vibration. Your throat should be closed and your larynx up. At this point, it is very possible to hit very high notes compared to the head voice.
Funnily enough, there is a difference when it comes to gender when singing falsetto. A woman can sing falsetto but it may not be as noticeable as when a man does sings falsetto - this is due to the natural ways in which our voices are shaped by testosterone and estrogen.
We can categorize these differences into the following points:
1. A head-voice has a natural vibrato which lacks in falsetto.
2. The head voice is richer and darker compared to falsetto.
3. The falsetto is achieved when the throat is closed and the larynx is up. Head voice is achieved when the throat is open and the larynx is down.
4. Falsetto can reach higher notes compared to the notes which can be reached singing the head voice.
How Do We Achieve Falsetto?
1. Practice doing sirens from your highest top register
The falsetto register is found at the highest point of your range. It can be achieved by experimenting with the highest pitched sirens you can achieve. Try mimicking the sirens of the police car or ambulance. Do the sirens from the top of the register and not to the top of the register.
2. Use your 'little boy voice'
Can you try talking like a three-year-old boy? Do you notice the difference? If that fails then try talking like a woman. The result is an airy voice and a breathy tone. That is probably your falsetto.
3. Keep it quiet
After you have found your falsetto don’t push it too much. Chances are, you may not be able to do it anyway. Ensure that you don’t use your throat either.
4. Sing on
By singing on I suggest you sing either eee’ or ooo’ - with falsetto aahh’ or aayy’ may not be attainable. Slide from the top to the bottom. Listen to the changes in the timbre of your voice.
If you notice that it’s getting really light at the top and you experience fewer vibrations internally, then you have found your falsetto.
How Do We Achieve Head Voice?
Understanding how to achieve a great head voice goes hand in hand with knowing your voice intuitively.
Head voice can be achieved when the following five areas have been explored:
What is resonance? Resonance is where you sing in a way where your voice doesn’t seem to come from your throat. This can be achieved when the singer seems like they have placed their voice around the eye area.
This can be achieved by pretending that you are wearing goggles. Go ahead and pretend that your voice is coming from the goggles in front of your face and directing your voice to the wall opposite.
So it seems like whatever you are singing, you are redirecting it to that wall. A very good way to achieve that is to hum through the song. You feel the buzz in your nose, once you feel that forward traveling sound go ahead and sing the words in the space after you hum it through.
2 Strong, Solid Support
A lot of emphasis needs to be put on the bigger and stronger muscles in the body. The tiny muscles in the throat should not be relied on to achieve head voice. Maximize the support of your diaphragm muscles. Doing this helps expand your rib cage which is essential in offering the skeletal support. Skeletal support is very necessary for singing.
How can this be achieved? Start by placing your hands on your rib cage. Make sure that your hands aren’t placed too low. Now, take in a good breath. Expand to directions in which you have placed your hands. Now, let go slowly and repeat this over and over again.
Note: This is also a great warm up exercise for all singing exercises!
This allows the diaphragm to draw down and press the abdominal muscles. This gives your voice the required support and power it requires to achieve head voice and takes the pressure off your throat.
3. Chest Mix
When a good, strong chest voice and head voice are combined, the result is a perfect and a well-balanced voice. You need to develop a strong chest and a strong head voice.
The chest voice should never be pulled out. Doing this may result in a very painful situation which is not sustainable. The strain is too much and definitely gets flat.
For this reason, get a mix. At this juncture start incorporating your highest calling voice into your singing.
4. Developing a Powerful Head Voice
This is the most crucial part. Unfortunately, many singers want to omit this and go straight to belting out high volume notes. Many want to overlook the tedious work of learning to achieve the head voice.
Right before you even start a singing program, it is crucial to first work on your head voice. This can be achieved by starting practicing scales and isolating your head voice. So if you an opera singer employ your best opera voice. This will facilitate openness and the freedom to go high. The head voice should never be discounted or taken for granted.
5. Open Throat
The head voice requires plenty of space. For this reason, you need to have an open throat. When you breathe in, you need to develop the habit of opening your throat as much as you can.
It’s a simultaneous action where both actions should happen at the same time. As you practice breathing in, try to think of the sensation experienced you get when you sneeze or get surprised. This helps to open up your throat and help you achieve your head voice.
The difference between falsetto voice and head voice is very minimal and most people might overlook it. However, if you plan on becoming a professional musician, knowing how to differentiate the two is very important.
Falsetto can be achieved by singing with your throat closed and your larynx up. On the other hand, you can sing the head voice when your throat is open and your larynx is down.
The falsetto lacks a natural vibration which is evident in the head voice.
James is an ex-writer for Music Grotto who focused the majority of his writing on the musical skill development content on the publication. His 20+ year career as a singing and vocal coach provided insightful content for the website, and his continued thirst for development in guitar and piano playing helped create some excellent skill development content for the publication.