The “Carrie Underwood” / “Kelly Clarkson” type of voice

I wanted to talk about this type of voice, because the configuration to get it isn’t what most people think.

When I have a student trying to sing in this style, I quite often hear a lot pf chest register being yelled at a high pitch that usually sounds dull, painful and, to say the least, quite unpleasant.

It isn’t uncommon for singers to try and duplicate this type of sound with their chest voice…it is however, the wrong approach.

Instead, the singer needs the practise “twang” in the head register. (Try quacking like a duck, or sounding nasty like a witch). You should be able to do this easily without any constriction or tightening in the throat. What usually happens is the head voice is not able to twang easily, and the student will over-compensate with throat muscles. Sometimes the singer will “flip” into falcetto mode.

Both Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood have a superb ability to twang in their head register. This gives the listener the illusion of a powerful chest register volume, when in fact, they are not using much chest register at all. They are, in fact, in a middle voice/head register configuration with a lot of twang.

Secondly, the vocal cords are under a great deal of breath pressure. In other words, the singer is able to hold back a lot of breath without flipping to falcetto.  This ability allows for great mouth and head resonance and again gives the listener the illusion of great power and volume.

Two singers that come to mind that do sing too high in their chest register at times are Adele and Christine Aguilera. Even though they both sing very differently, they both sing very loud and very high in their low register. Christine Aguilera has only had trouble with this as she has gotten older. Her ability to sing in a loud chest, middle and head voice mode through her entire range when she was younger made her a superstar.  She is still a superb singer, but as she gets older her cords have probably thickened from singing so hard in her chest register. Thick folds can make it hard for a singer to ascend into their head register and keep control of their voice.

Do you have any questions or comments? Please leave them here.


OK, now squeeeezzzzee…

Well, no, not really. Don’t squeezzzeee. That’s taboo for a singing teacher to say. You never squeeze….or do you?

In a previous blog I talked about finding your head voice. Have you found it yet? If not, try again with a light sigh…in your high voice…If you still are not sure if that’s your high voice then try talking like a little small …. ? something …. with a slight nasty or nasally rise to your voice. Keep it light. You should feel it in your nose and under your eyes. Keep it higher than your speaking voice. Even you guys with the big deep heavy voices should be able to find this light, higher, slightly airy voice.

This is your head voice, and yes for some it’s not actually going to be your head voice, it’s going to be your falsetto voice. It’s a start, but a true head voice is achieved with the vocal cords staying together…and with inexperienced singers this can be difficult because they may have never experienced this sensation before. They have only ever achieved falcetto which means the vocal cords are blowing apart too far when singing high notes. This is not an ideal way to sing high but it is a great effect and many professional singers use it. Falcetto uses a lot more air than your head voice, and your range is limited. A true head voice will just keep going higher and higher and higher as the vocal cords zip up.

So how do you get that falcetto voice to be your head voice. Well, it takes practise and persistence. Try this…..visualize that you are squeezing or sandwiching your high voice. This should help with the breath pressure that is required to keep the vocal cords from blowing apart. Try this at a low to moderate volume. Having any luck yet? Are you  noticing any difference? Now here is the problem…when I said “squeeze” I didn’t mean squeeze anything else. You cannot use any throat muscles to help achieve your head voice. You must stay totally relaxed throughout the neck and shoulder area. Remember to start light and do it every day. Go around making high light humming sounds and try to increase the pressure a little at a time. If you are uncomfortable in any way at your throat then you are doing it wrong. It’s a process. The vocal cords are not use to making these sounds. It takes time…….and of course, now the trick is to connect your head voice up with your chest voice to create the “beautiful mix!”

Please leave a comment or question. I’d love to hear from you! Susan