Mix it

I much prefer to hear a singing voice that is unique and interesting, to a voice that has been trained to sound the same as other “trained” voices.

If your plan is singing in a band, or karaoke, or even musical theatre, then beware what “kind” of voice training you get.

Radio-friendly voices today are “in the mix”.  Audiences love to hear a chest voice that meets the head voice in wild and crazy ways. There are so many textures and co-ordinations possible, it’s mind boggling. Find your best “coordination” and “mix it!”

Justin Bieber? Taylor Swift? Who really has the voice?

Hi everyone,

I was speaking with the mother of a student yesterday, and the subject of Justin Bieber’s voice came up. She was going on about how he couldn’t sing well, and how annoying it was to listen to.

I didn’t interrupt her but let her finish and go on with her day. However, here is what I was thinking at the time.

Let’s face it, everyone’s interpretation of who is a good singer is going to be different. For example, most singing coaches in the classical world might not consider anyone singing on contemporary radio to be a good singer. Technique can be a crucial indicator to singing coaches, but not even a consideration to the general public.

I want to share with you what I classify as a good singer.

A good singer is someone who can sing in their mix, or in their head voice, or in their chest voice as they choose. And a good singer is someone who can make me, the listener, believe them when they’re singing.

If someone isn’t able to sing in their mix (which is the middle voice of chest and head voice combined), then straight away I don’t believe them. In general, my ears cannot enjoy a voice that is strictly in chest voice, or only head voice. I prefer the sound of using the entire registration.

Justin Bieber does that just fine. No, I don’t want to buy his CD’s, but my daughter certainly does!  I can relate to what this mother might be feeling as she listens to the same songs over and over and over. However, from a technical point of view, Justin Bieber is a very talented singer and will only get better and stronger as he goes through puberty.

On the other hand, I can think of many voices on the radio who can’t sing well in their mix. Let’s take Taylor Swift for instance. She has definitely made her mark in the world of song writing, but she is bad news for all those young girl singers out there trying to copy her. It’s these young girls who buy her CD’s! They love her stories about heartbreak and boys.  But, the bad news for these singers is that her songs are easy to imitate. By that I mean, these young girls don’t have to sing in their mix. They can sing any of her songs in their chest voice alone. This is extremely detrimental for young singing voices.

I imagine you will start to notice Taylor Swift’s range increase in the next album or two as she learns how to mix her voice better with the help of Brett Manning. He is, as I understand it, one of her vocal coaches. As her middle voice strengths she will be able to sing higher notes, but most likely this will present in her songs as a chest belt. This is typical of many singers in contemporary radio music. That happens to be the type of voice that music producers love to record, because they sell lots of CD’s!

I can think of some great singers who can belt well in their mix. Celine Dion is, of course, the master. And, let’s not forget Kelly Clarkson, and Adam Lambert. Oh my, how we love to listen to the mixed belt!

Style of music is a definite indicator as to the type of voice you may be listening to. Let’s take the beautifully-controlled and balanced voice of Barbra Streisand. Wow, is all I can say. This is “mixing heaven” to me, lol.

And, what about the voice and style of Leanne Rimes. Why do we love her so much? Well, she has a unique voice that is not only well balanced in the mix, but she can also do this fabulous flip (yodel) between her chest and head voice. This yodel is sooooooo smooth that it has really become her signature, and it really sets her apart from most other singers.

Well, that’s it for today. I want to thank the mom I spoke with yesterday for inspiring me to blog on this topic today. I welcome your comments. Bye for now. Susan

What does it mean to “Get In the Mix”?

When we talk, we are using our chest voice. If you put your hand on your chest and talk, you can feel the sound vibrations. The higher in pitch you go (try talking like a whiny baby), you should feel the vibrations leave your chest and resonate in your nose, eye and top of your head area. I get amazed sometimes when I meet people who can’t find their head voice because they’ve  never tried to find it before, and they don’t know the feeling or how to get it. Then when they finally do use their head voice, it is usually very airy and weak at first because the vocal cords have never produced these sounds before. Getting to know your “head voice” and exercising it is a good good first step to getting in the mix.

The mixed voice is simply that…a mix of chest voice and head voice. Some singers will have more chest voice  in the mix, while others may have more head voice in the mix. You may find these variances in the style of music they are singing. Belt singers like Celion Dion, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Striesand,  Adam Lambert, for instance have a strong chest mix that they can produce and carry up through their bridges. Classical singers are most likely to have a stronger head voice in the mix allowing for a more even, balanced sound.

Regardless of your preference of style, exercising the chest, mix and head voice in the proper way is crucial to developing a strong healthy voice.

In musical theatre, singing and acting go hand in hand…

So you want to go into musical theatre. You’ve studied voice and music in university and now you are ready to work……….Ahhhh, too bad you didn’t taking some acting classes too. The director is looking for the whole package……….well, unless you just want to be in the chorus.

The director not only wants you to read some lines, but he wants you to belt a song…..that’s it……..show us your best belt.  Do you know how to do it? If you studied classical voice then you’re in trouble. You don’t learn how to belt with classical training.

A good belt is when your chest voice can carry up into “the mix” through your second bridge and beyond. Notice I said “the mix”. That means there is head voice in there too, however it’s just not predominant. Without the head voice you end up with this sound that is quite unpleasant. It is strained, dark and sounds like you’re yelling.

Belting is something that can be learned. Classical training is not going to strengthen your belt. Try speech level singing. Learn how to get into “the mix” and strengthen your chest register up through your 2nd bridge.