Let’s unpack chest voice today.
Although there are many technical definitions of what chest voice actually is, it is most widely known and understood as our normal speaking and/or singing voice. For our purposes, chest voice is the range in which we feel completely comfortable singing and speaking. It is marked by the majority of the resonance being located in the chest. There are more specific definitions than these, but the general outcomes are still the same.
I find that chest voice receives much less attention than it actually deserves. In fact, chest voice should deserves just as much attention as any other area of our voice. Why? Simply because we most often sing in our chest voice. Therefore I find it quite necessary that we engage and train our chest voice just as much as (if not more than) our head voice and mixed voice.
Somehow we get this faulty idea that since we speak and sing in our chest voice all the time, we are in no need of training it. Wrong! Your chest voice may be stronger than your head voice or mixed voice, but that does not necessarily mean it has been properly trained. And here’s why.
Even though we speak and sing in chest voice often, we never truly train our vocal cords to function in the proper manner. Since our vocal cords are not trained in the proper manner, they do not give the proper control over chest voice. It now makes sense why people could sing in chest voice for years and still be incredibly pitchy and inconsistent. They are relying on everything except proper vocal cord function. Even though their chest is strong, it still remains untrained.
So how do we train our chest voice?
1) We must first get to the root of the issue. An inconsistent chest voice is only a symptom of the real problem: improper function of the vocal cords. Vocal cord closure is an absolute necessity for properly functioning vocal cords. Getting the vocal cords to come together correctly is the first step in creating a smooth, rich and controlled chest voice. The proper amount of vocal cord closure implies proper breath support as well. Breath support is also key for developing your chest voice. Breath support is not the focus but rather a supplementary element of vocal cord closure. When you fill your diaphragm with the proper amount of air and control it correctly with cord closure, you have the ability to produce that rich and controlled sound.
Here is what I would do in order to start training your chest voice.
I would practice the exercises “mum” and “buh” on octave scales, repeating the “mum” or “buh” 4 times at the top and holding out that note. If I were to write it out, it be like this:
mum-mum-mum-mum mum mum muuuuuuuuuuuuum-mum-mum-mum
buh-buh-buh-buh buh buh buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh-buh-buh-buh
As you ascend up the scale, focus on controlling the notes as you sing them.
You can also work on developing your chest voice by humming a particular note in your chest voice and holding it out for 10 seconds. Go to the next note higher, hum it and hold it out for 10 seconds. Focus on controlling the sound you are making. As you begin to gain control, increase the amount of time you spend holding out the note. This will help regulate your breath and develop your chest voice.
So what are the benefits of having a solid chest voice? Here are 2 tangible benefits:
1) excellent control over your vocals
2) a launching pad for adding energy into your mix
Like I said earlier, vocal cord closure is quite important to developing that rich sound in your chest voice. Grasping that concept and implementing it into your singing will do wonders for your voice!
As always, sing on my friends!