What Are Vocal Registers?

What Are Vocal RegistersIf you’ve signed up for voice lessons in Houston, you’re learning tons of new techniques and terminology to help you harness your talent into a more professional way of singing. But, all these new lessons can be overwhelming, which can lead to confusion as you try to practice and commit these things to memory. In addition to providing voice lessons in Houston, Lessons in Your Home also has a breadth of musical knowledge that we want to use to help you become the best singer you can be. Today we’re diving into the concept of vocal registers.

Understanding Vocal Registers

The idea of vocal registers can be a little confusing, even for those already enrolled in voice lessons in Houston. The reality is that the concept of a ‘register’ includes many aspects of the human voice. Most simply, a vocal register is a range of tones produced in the human voice by a particular vibratory pattern of the vocal folds. There are different vocal registers because the vocal folds are able to create several different vibratory patterns. Each of these patterns created by the vocal folds happens within a particular range of pitches, and each pattern produces certain characteristic sounds. Some have described vocal registration as how the human voice changes as it moves through its pitch range. For example, a well-trained and skilled singer may move through their range smoothly, so much so that you are unaware of changes in their register.

Different Types of Vocal Registers

Most scientists and trained singers agree that the vocal cords are capable of producing at least four distinct vibratory patterns. However, not every singer can produce all four distinct patterns. Some of these patterns are typically unachievable by women (they’re too low), and some patterns are unachievable by men (they’re too high). Let’s explore the four vocal registers more in-depth.

1. Modal/Chest

This is the first vocal register. The modal voice is known as a natural or normal voice. It’s also sometimes referred to as the chest register. This is because it refers to a person’s natural disposition. It is the typical register a person uses for speaking and singing. The majority of a person’s singing and speaking are done in this register. When used, this register produces full, warm, and rich sounds.

2. Falsetto/Head

The falsetto register exists right above the modal voice register and actually overlaps the modal register by an octave. The differences in modal and falsetto voice lie in how much the vocal cords are involved and in what way. Falsetto is produced using only parts of the vocal cord, limiting its tone quality and variation. By contrast, modal voice utilizes the whole of the vocal chord, giving it more breadth and depth. The sounds produced by this register can sound stretched but are still strong and rich.

3. Vocal Fry

This register is acknowledged in lower-voiced male singers and is not accessible for female singers. It is the lowest vocal register and not used often in singing, except in certain types of music such as male quartets. This register can achieve pitches of a very low frequency, not accessible by the modal register. This register can sound low, almost creaky or popping.

4. Whistle

This register is the highest register of the human voice, accessible by higher-voiced female singers. Like the vocal fry register for males, the whistle register in females is not used frequently. Both the vocal fry and the whistle registers are sometimes considered extensions of the modal (chest) and falsetto (head) registers. Like its name, sounds produced with this register sound whistle-like, very bright and sharp. Mariah Carey and Ariana Grande are famous for their ability to utilize the whistle register.
Many Houston voice teachers will advocate for a two-register singing method, wherein the modal and falsetto registers are used most often. In this method, these registers are often made to overlap, thus creating what some people refer to as a middle register, or a blended/mixed register.
As you continue to learn and develop your skills as a singer, you can challenge yourself to see if you’re able to hit three different vocal registers. If you’re interested in taking voice lessons, contact us today! Our teachers come right to your home for every lesson, plus we offer virtual music lessons, too. Our online music lessons are taught by local music teachers with live lessons tailored to your child!

What Are Vocal Registers

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