The mix voice is elusive to say the least. I have been bombarded with questions lately about explaining the mix voice in more detail, so I figured I would just write a post and hopefully answer all those questions at the same time.
The mix voice is essentially a blend between chest voice and head voice. The mix voice has the energy of chest voice while maintaining the light weight of head voice. It is developed at the point where the singer crosses his first bridge (or passaggio). The larynx begins to shift towards more of a C shape when you begin to sing in the mix, incorporating the pharyngeal sound as well (the pharyngeal sound is “nnggg”…or you can just think of the Bee Gee’s). The pharyngeal resonator acts as a connector between chest voice and head voice and holds the mix together to some extent. It is very important that all three resonators (chest, pharyngeal and head) are well developed when singing in the mix voice. If one of the resonators lacks training and/or precision, the mix voice falters.
Sounds like the mix voice is complicated, doesn’t it? Technically, yes – it is quite unique. But mechanically, it is no worse than learning how to play guitar for the first time. (Ok, I realize for some that may have been a nightmare..for others a breeze…but just stick with me for now.) I chose the analogy of playing the guitar for the first time because it is quite relevant for learning how to sing in the mix voice. At first, it is quite tough and can be very frustrating, but the more you practice playing it, the better you get at it. The sames goes for the mix voice.
Speaking in general terms (each person is different), the area when the mix begins to form (or should begin to form) are as follows:
male: Eflat4 to F#4
female: F#4 to A4
Like I said, these are general specifications. Some people begin to mix before the specified notes, others afterward. In general, my mix voice starts around E4 (first bridge) with my next bridge coming right around G4/Aflat4. I have a friend, though, who doesn’t starting mixing until G4 (it must be nice to not have any vocal weight all!). In some instances, I may start mixing as early as middle C depending on the nature of the song. Like I said before, it varies from singer to singer.
The mix voice takes time to develop. I would be telling you a lie if I said I had it nailed down. In reality, I am still working through my own issues with the mix voice. However, I know that it is getting stronger and clearer with every day that I practice in it.
Do you have have any more questions about the mix voice that you would like answered? Ask them here – I’d love to help!
Photo Credits: flo and me (flickr)