Laryngeal Registers - Modes

Laryngeal registers are those that result from a different use of the phonation muscles, especially the TA. These laryngeal registers are better termed modes. Mode 1 is commonly referred to as "chest voice" and is the dominant mode for men and women belters. Mode 2 is commonly referred to as "falsetto" for men and "head voice" for women, and it is the dominant mode for classical trained women and male countertenors. The distinction is the degree of engagement of the TA muscle. Mode 1 is engaged, and therefore heavier with greater depth of closure, and Mode 2 is largely disengaged, and therefore lighter with a shallower depth of closure. Both modes can be used more or less robustly creating what some call "mix." Generally singers experience a variety of chest-dominant-mix: essentially a lighter, stretchier (literally stretching the vocal folds with the action of the CT) use of Mode 1. Or, a variety of head-dominant-mix: essentially a fully connected (fully adducted glottis), resonant use of Mode 2. Occasionally, singers will be unsure of which side of the mode fence they are singing in, but when tested, one can usually make a judgement as to whether the mix was chest or head dominant. Terminology makes the situation more complicated. Generally when classically trained men refer to the their "head voice" they are indicating a Mode 1 chest-dominant-mix. When classically trained women refer to their "head voice" they are indicating a Mode 2 head-dominant-mix. Both modes are possible for both men and women and both can be used in a healthy manner. All singers should be able to distinguish between these qualities of voice and navigate the transition between them. Developing a good mix in your dominant mode is a central facet of voice training in almost any genre.

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