We’ve only gone and done it.
We’ve tackled the big one.
Have you any idea how much grief there is on the internet about registers and what they are/mean/sound like?
From the 1840s when Garcia put forward his ideas about vocal registers to the “free and frank exchange” at the CoMeT conferences in the 1970s, voice scientists and singing teachers have disagreed about what registers are and how they sound.
But we have girded our loins and waded into the fray.
Registers – what’s in a name? is the fifth podcast in Series 2 of This Is A Voice, and we’re covering a LOT
- M1 and M2 – what the M words actually mean
- The difference between M1 and chest voice
- The only way to find out where the mechanisms change (according to the research)
- Why mixing is not about the vocal folds!
With live demonstrations of M1 and M2 singing from both Gillyanne and Jeremy
Check the full audio podcast here https://link.chtbl.com/WdsYl77b?sid=ThisIsAVoice
or on our dedicated Podcast webpage https://thisisavoice.buzzsprout.com
And decide whether you agree with us or not…
The original article by Jeremy is here https://vocalprocess.co.uk/modal-falsetto-everything-between/
The Vocal Process Learning Lounge is now live: 500+ of our voice training videos for less than the price of a singing lesson
We’ll be releasing our streaming Popup Workshops on M1/M2 and Teaching Other Genders shortly
This is a Voice podcast Series 2 Episode 5 – Registers, what’s in a name?
This is in a way, why we’re so interested in the names that people call things and what’s going on underneath them. What are the vocal folds themselves doing?
Gillyanne Kayes 0:09
Interesting. I mean, I think there are, there are some huge cultural changes going on, aren’t there in terms of, I’m just going to use the word gender as in terms of gender expectations of voices and people’s biological sex, and how they want to use their voices that changing and I think that will inform how we think about register mechanisms in the future, in the same way that I think research into contemporary commercial music has informed our understanding of registers simply because the early research into registers was all predicated on the male voice. And we know that the male voice This is a biological male sex is not the norm in… oh crikey. Crikey, did I say that? It’s not the norm in terms of the lifecycle of the voice because of the exponential change during puberty,
let’s just unpack that for a moment because we are going to get comments on that
Gillyanne Kayes 1:08
I dug myself the biggest hole, I think I know how to get out of it. Because I love the way that colleagues across the pond, talk about voices being testosterone influenced or not.
Yeah, I like that, too.
Gillyanne Kayes 1:22
So that’s the big change. Anyway, that is a completely other conversation. And it’s also one of our pop ups coming up, isn’t it?
I want to say and this is in a way this, hopefully
Gillyanne Kayes 1:32
Shall we go and hide now?
No, no, this will also underline what Gillyanne has said, which is if there is no testosterone influence, then the child voice and the female adult voice are actually very close together. In terms of range in terms of where the register mechanisms change. They’re very, very close together. And they might not be close together in timbre, but they are close together in range and mechanism issues.
Gillyanne Kayes 1:56
It’s a much more linear progress of growth.
Yes. Whereas the male voice, the testosterone led voice, the moment testosterone hits, there are all sorts of changes that are exponentially bigger. And therefore, the range changes and the register issues change.
This is a voice, a podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher
Hello and welcome to this is voice podcast Series Two Episode Five: Registers, what’s in a name now? We were actually going going to call it WTF Registers? but we didn’t think that would pass the censors. So registers Gillyanne this is a popular topic, isn’t it?
Gillyanne Kayes 2:51
Yes, it is. And it’s often a contentious topic.
Gillyanne Kayes 2:54
I’ve got a cofv, a confession to make everybody
You’ve got a covfefe to make?
Gillyanne Kayes 2:59
A covfefe to make – a covfefe. No, now look, let’s not get political. Okay?
We’re about to talk registers. We can’t help it.
Gillyanne Kayes 3:06
Yeah, that’s absolutely true. Back in 2019, at the last Pan European Voice Conference, I was a panellist member, doing a masterclass, followed by some conversation between the panellists as to why they did, why they do what they do. You don’t need any more info than that. I talked about how important it was for singers to find their personal comfort zone. And that in my practice, working mostly with musical theatre singers, and contemporary commercial music singers, many of whom are female, that I found it essential that they understand how to move between register mechanisms, and to handover smoothly and where they want to, and that I felt this was an essential part practice. There was one lovely lady in the audience, clearly a singer and singing teacher, and I think it was her very first Voice Science Conference. And she opined that registers were unnecessary and that she’d had historically she’d had a very bad experience in her own training.
She was a she was a little vocal on that. She shouted.
Gillyanne Kayes 4:16
She was a little vocal on that. Yes. And in due course, as I kind of continued to say why I felt it was important, there was a shout out from the audience. “I disagree.” Now, here we come to the confession moment, because I forgot that I have a voice science hat on I put on my singing teacher hat, and I folded my arms and I said, Well, I’ve been teaching singing for over 40 years, and I find… which wasn’t a very scientific answer, because what I could have said was, what exactly is it that I’ve said that you disagree with and why? But being a good colleague, we met at coffee had a hug and a chat. And talked about why her experiences as a CCM singer, being trained with a classical – in a classical background had led her to this place. And it was very useful. It was quite salutary for me actually, in a lot of ways. And to understand why registers are so contentious because sometimes there are kind of register police around. I can remember going to voice conferences and watching a paper where someone was talking about register violation. And I remember being furious. That was one of my first voice conferences, actually.
Did you shout?
Gillyanne Kayes 5:40
Yeah, well, no, I didn’t shout. But I said, What is this violation, you know, the violation is in the ear of the beholder. This is an aesthetic. So that’s why we’re talking about it today. Plus, we recently did our second or third, M1 and M2 popup workshop. And Jeremy’s had a very interesting response to one of his articles. So we’re gonna go there next
In 2019, I put an article on the Vocal Process website called Modal, Falsetto and Everything In Between. And this is basically on the misunderstandings between M1 and M2 or modal and falsetto. And it included two Mythbusters. And I want to read the mythbuster. out which Well, basically, the mythbuster was the myth is that you can mix modes, and you can’t. That was basically my answer, which is you can’t get your vocal folds to vibrate in two entirely different ways at the same time, well not if you want to have a career, or a voice at the end of the day. So I got a very interesting question that came up. It was a sort of question/statement from Kirk Hansen, which only came in a couple of days ago. And he said, I’m guessing that creak which is M0, is the same as what is often called fry. If not, the rest of this won’t make sense. Mythbuster #1 says you can’t vibrate in more than one mode at a time. discussions of bass singing, sometimes speak of chest fry, and a different thing, fried chest, the names make it sound like each of these combined modes in some way. Perhaps they refer to different ways in which you can switch very quickly from one mode to another. Just a guess on my part, obviously, I’ll be grateful for any information you can provide on how these relate to the discussion in this post, if at all. Thanks for your help. And I thought this was such a great question. And also, by the way, I had never up to that day heard of fried chest. So I went on YouTube and looked at what people were talking fried chest. And I just made me think of bacon eggs. But there you go.
Gillyanne Kayes 7:38
He went wandering around YouTube, I have to say, cos I think it is a very interesting question, Kirk. And we’re very grateful for it. I had a little reread this morning of some of the papers that I’ve got in my library on vocal registers, because it was something I initially set out to research in my doctorate, but I didn’t in the end. And it looks as though there was a report of there being 107 different names back in 1964.
Well I mean on the webinar that we did, on this topic, we found 57 names for the area between f4 and f5 in female voice.
Gillyanne Kayes 8:16
So this is one of the reasons because we we give labels to an acoustic output, don’t we?
Well, yes, because I want to go there. I want to read my answer out because I hope this is clear for people. And I said, Hi, Kirk, that’s such an interesting question. First, I’m going to say that the names people give sounds vary, and they don’t reflect what the vocal folds are doing. So one man’s fried chest is another man’s Strohbass. Think of the M’s (M0, M1, M2 and M3) as the movement type of the vocal folds themselves before you add the resonates resonance spaces above. And think of the names chest head falsetto mixed chest-fry and so on, as being the sound that comes out after you add the resonating spaces, so you still can’t mix M’s, but you could do M0 with a different resonating space to produce a different version and creating a “chest resonance” in inverted commas. above an M0 vibration will impact the vibration subtly because of back pressure, changes in downflow. But it won’t actually move the M0 into M1. nor will it have one vocal folds vibrating and M0 and another an M1. It’s why even equating M0 with fry or creak or M1 with chest or modal is dodgy because fry is the final outcome rather than the vocal folds action. The art is to hear through and underneath the resonance to what the vocal folds themselves are doing. And I felt really quite quite strongly and quite clear about this, which is when we talk about the M numbers, M0, M1, M2 and M3. We’re talking about how the vocal folds themselves behave. And this is before the sound comes out. This is right vocal folds level before the resonating spaces really get into play. Now that is a very simplified version, because the resonating spaces do get into play because of downflow upflow downflow. And therefore they will have some effect on the vocal folds. But if you like, if you’re in M1, changing the resonating space will make the vocal folds behave in a very slightly different way, but they will still be in an M1 vibration.
Gillyanne Kayes 8:44
As far as we know the impact of the resonating chambers. We know it’s not a linear event in our voice as far as we know, it doesn’t change the vibratory mechanism.
Well if you think about how the vibrator mechanism itself is made, in M0 everything is very slack, it’s very loose, and the airflow is very low. If you think about an M1, then you have all the letters vibrating and they’re vibrating quite evenly. The thing about an M0 is that is a different vibrational pattern to M1.
Gillyanne Kayes 10:56
I’m just gonna Yeah, I think you’ve clarified what I said, because of course, it does change the vibration, but it doesn’t change it into a different mechanism.
Nope. Let me let me just let me just go into this because this is quite an interesting one. And it is very, it’s quite fiddly, I want you to think of an M1 vibration, which is basically a bottom to top vibration, where if you were put to put your hands together, the little fingers would meet first, and then the rest of the hand would roll up to me and then the bottom little fingers would come apart, but the top fingers would stay together and then the whole thing moves apart. And it’s a real rolling action. And that’s the definitive view of M1 action. What is interesting is for instance, we have just done an SOVT course. And we’re about to do one in a couple of days time when you start to use. So vt techniques, whether they’re passive or active, they will change very slightly the way for instance, that the top of the vocal folds stays together, it might stay together longer, it might stay together with less pressure, it might square up a bit more. But nevertheless, the whole vocal folds is still doing that rolling action. So you’re still in an M1 vibration, it’s just that the SOVT stuff has caused it to maybe stay together a little longer, maybe just to ease off the pressure underneath it. So you don’t need as much sub glottal pressure to make it move, it will rebalance very slightly, but it won’t change the vibration. If you want to change the vibration to go from M1 to M2, or in vernacular modal to falsetto, then what you’re going to do is you’re going to release the muscle that’s inside the vocal folds. SOVT will still affect the vocal folds, but they won’t affect the vibration, they will change the vibration mode, what changes the vibration mode in this case is releasing the muscle inside the vocal folds. I’m hoping all of that makes sense. It’s like SOVT is above and has some effect. But the mode itself is caused by the vocal folds.
Gillyanne Kayes 12:58
Sounds reasonable to me, I think you’ve explained it well. So where do we go from here, I’m going to talk a little bit more history actually to explain how the term mechanism came about. Garcia the second I think was one of the first people to comment on registers because he observed different register mechanisms on the laryngeal scope. And he started off with to register theory. But marquese, who was one of the most famous singing teachers around at that time, was very upset at the idea of to register theory and insisted that women had a third register, which is often referred to as the middle register. And I can tell you that there’s a whole mass of research, looking for the hole in the middle, as Harry hollein described it, which is kind of one of the reasons why we don’t talk about the mix. Interestingly, from Garcia, there’s been I think there’s been a timeline, you can look at research papers in the 1970s that confirmed this idea that if we think of registers as being a laryngeal event, it makes life easier. And then if we go forward into the 80s, and up into the early 2000s, we look at the French research from Roubeau, Henrich and Castellengo, where they’ve done extensive study with quite large subject groups on Register mechanisms, and it’s from them that we get the M word, because the great thing about the M1, M2, M0, which would be fry, and M3, which is whistle, is that, you know, we don’t have some of these labels that are very confusing. We’re just talking about what’s happening at the level of the vocal folds as Jeremy’s explained, and that’s why we use this in our training. And I have to say, I find it’s just so useful. Every teacher that we work with, finds it incredibly really helpful,
I think where the confusion lies is not in the in the mechanisms themselves, because that’s fairly straightforward. I think the confusion is actually allocating names to the sounds that come out. So And in a way, this is exactly what I was talking about in the reply to the article and also in the article itself. And we will put the article link up in the show notes underneath.
Gillyanne Kayes 15:22
And people do get very upset about this because they get very attached to our certain acoustic labels, perceptual things that they associate with registers. And I think as a trainer of trainers, you have to be quite sensitive to that.
It was even even to the point where, because people misunderstand how those mechanisms are caused, then they can have actually mislabel a whole load of things. So the whole business about a breathy sound, which is really fascinating, breathy sound is used a lot in various guises in all sorts of music, like 90% of the world music has breathy sound in it somewhere, one of the very few genres that doesn’t have it very often at all, is classical music. It’s very rare that you will do a breathy sound, you might do a leaky sound, but because of the genre in which you’re required to sing acoustically, so you’re you’re essentially you have to project breathy sandstone project that well, but they’re wonderful a microphone. So anyway, that was a digression. If you think that breathiness is caused by the vocal folds coming apart, that’s fine. What’s interesting is that you can have breathy M1 and a breathy M2. So therefore, immediately you’ve got well how do I label that
Gillyanne Kayes 16:44
and that’s this very nice research on that just getting back into my science had by Christian Herbst, this helps where he looked at what he called ABducted. So that means slightly apart vocal folds and adducted versions of mechanisms one and mechanism two,
if you haven’t come across those words, I always think of adducted has been adding the vocal folds together and therefore they’re they’re together and clean sound. And abducted means that they they move apart and therefore this breathy assess take away so you can have up to him in his research he did adducted chest which is a clear chest sound, abducted chest which is a breathy chest sound adducted falsetto, which is a breathy falsetto, sorry, adducted is a clear falsetto. And abducted is a breathy falsetto,
Gillyanne Kayes 17:30
get your abbs and adds right!
Gillyanne Kayes 17:33
So why are we banging on about this and in particular about mechanisms one and two. Because if you think about the pitch range of most musical writing, and I know that’s a massive generalisation if we’re thinking across genres, even in the Western Hemisphere, but if we think about that, mostly, what we’re going to be singing in is mechanism one and mechanism two. And we know there’s, you know, a whole community of singers who produce fabulous whistle and obviously, there’s a community of low bass singers who was sing a lot in vocal fry or pulse or we call it creak, don’t we?
Gillyanne Kayes 18:12
Fried chest, bless. you know that they’re not that most of the stuff that we’re singing is going to be in mechanism one and mechanism two. And that’s why we run this particular pop up workshop. There’s one thing I’d like to say as well about you know, the labels of chest and head and falsetto, which again is you know, could cause we could get so much kickback from this.
Oh, let’s do let’s do a podcast just on chest head and falsetto. That would be not fun at all.
Gillyanne Kayes 18:45
Let’s not, let’s not interestingly, I’m just gonna read this out. This is from the Roubeau et al paper. Roubeau I should say. Mechanism one, and they’ve got some labels here that are commonly use modal, normal, chest heavy, thick, voix mixte but only in the male voice. Mixed (male voice), voce finta (male voice), head, operatic (male voice). Mechanism 2 falsetto, head (women’s voices), loft, light, thin, voix mixte (women) mixed (women) Most of that I’m on board with
some I’m not.
Gillyanne Kayes 19:30
I think that some there’s another paper that I think was produced later that they talked about. They were looking for the hole in the middle, the voix mixte and they concluded that it could either be done on a mechanism one or mechanism two.
I’ll go with that
Gillyanne Kayes 19:44
Which is how we go along with it. I’m taking a paper away from Jeremy now, because he’s just going to find something he disagrees.
I am, I mean, the implication of that, which is really interesting is that women’s head voice is based on an M2 which I sort of agree with. But there is also in contemporary commercial singing, people do a light M1 and either think of it as a head voice or, or a falsetto, or a chest voice or something. And this is again, where the labels start to get problematic. Because the reason that we put labels on things is simply because we want to differentiate, and people go, Oh, that’s heavy, that’s my chest voice. But interestingly, when they do a finer chest voice, they go, Well, that doesn’t actually feel the same or even sound the same, it’s lighter, it’s not as dark, it’s not as heavy. Therefore, I’ve got to give it a different name. Yeah. And this is, I think, where it gets really interesting. And it’s actually what I said in the end of my reply, is that you can train your ears to hear pretty much what the vocal folds are doing underneath the outcome. All of these names are about outcome,
Gillyanne Kayes 20:52
sometimes in order to find out and again, this is something that we do a lot, and we train our teachers to, to do, excuse me, with the individual singer, in other words, the singer in the room in front of you. Sometimes your need to contrast and compare, you don’t always know which mechanism they’re in until you’ve heard them do the other mechanism. Now, I really liked the research from the French team, because they said the only way to really find out where the mechanisms change is to get people to do glissandi. They’re not revealed because singers are very good at disguising register changes because many of us trained to do that. It’s not easy to spot them when a singer is singing a song because there are all kinds of acoustic things that we can do to disguise the mechanism changes. So now I’m going back to why I think M1 and M2 are so important, because it’s about how we navigate our vocal pitch range, isn’t it? Yeah. If you have a song of a range of a 10th, if you’re a woman. And if you’re a musical theatre singer, or a contemporary commercial music singer, in that 10th, you may well have to navigate or register change, you might not. And that depends, you might
let’s talk about key as well, because key is also vital in this one, if you’re a musical theatre singer, and you have a song range of attendance, and you could do G3, which is G below middle C to B4, and you would stay in M1 the whole time without really blinking. If you were a classical singer, and you had a song that covered a tenth, and it was G3 to B4, well, first of all, you’d be considered a contralto, because Sopranos hardly ever go to G3. And secondly even going to B4 you would be unlikely to take your chest voice all the way up to B4. Whereas in contemporary commercial and musical theatre singing, that’s completely expected. So immediately you’re looking at a genre. And here you’re looking at genre expectations. If If a female opera singer took their chest voice up to B natural 4, a 7th above middle C, it would be considered crude, there would be something wrong with it, they you know, they don’t have the technique. And in fact, it’s not that it’s that the expectation of the sound is not what the audience want to hear, you know, this is very much a genre thing.
Gillyanne Kayes 23:23
Well, the musical writing simply doesn’t allow for that, you know, the kind of flow sound that’s needed, and the legato, etc, etc. makes it very difficult for a female voice to navigate that if she’s singing in her mechanism, one, by which we mean a version of chest voice,
I’m gonna say that there are going to become it’s going Agnes Baltsa took hers up to Zed. And I’m going, Yeah, there are always exceptions to the rule. But interestingly, you look at the exceptions, and you go, there are exceptions. Therefore the rule is, and you look back at the rule and go, the vast majority of people do this. And that’s an expectation and genre.
Gillyanne Kayes 24:00
I like that you’ve talked so much about genre here, because I think what it is, you know, in terms of how do we navigate our vocal pitch range. And it’s the way that we’re doing it suitable for the music, musical culture that we belong to, or the musical culture that we aspire to. That’s really what it’s all about. That’s why we need to think about otherwise, we wouldn’t even talk about mixing.
Shall we talk about mixing? Is this mixing with a capital M?
Gillyanne Kayes 24:32
Well, let me put it this way. And it’s another story. Do you remember going to ICVT in 2017? And that was the first time that we met Dr. Treneice Robinson,
Gillyanne Kayes 24:44
And she was presenting some of the outcomes of her PhD. And the way that she worked to train gospel singers
Very good it was, hi Treneice.
Gillyanne Kayes 24:53
Almost the first thing that came out of her mouth was listen every time we open our mouth to sing we are mixing
Gillyanne Kayes 25:01
That was a moment when I shouted in the audience “Preach!”. And you know, I think that’s true, it is really important because I think we perceive mix, I think we feel it as an mix. And I’m going to say this as a singer and a singing teacher, we feel like we’re mixing something. So we get that sensory feedback that it feels in between, let’s say, we feel our chest voice has been more heavy. And head voice or falsetto as being more light, we feel there’s something going on in between, and we call that mixing. And then acoustically, maybe somebody can’t hear the difference between your mechanism one and mechanism two, or they can’t hear that hand over because it’s so smooth. And then people talk about that as being a mix. And I think another thing that happens because of the use of the word mix, particularly if it has a capital M, is that sometimes it’s purported to be safer, and that you must learn to mix instead of using your mechanism one. And that’s actually to do with how much pressure and volume you use with your mechanism one, I’m going to quote another colleague, actually, Jeanie Lovetri. Jeanie, hello, I love the way that you work on this particular topic. And the way that you teach people to navigate between M1 and M2, you wrote a long time ago about just as a female can sing very loudly in her head voice, she can also sing very softly in her chest voice, she does not have to do it loud. And I think that’s one of the reasons why people say, well, that must be a mix. Jeremy, do you want to do some demos of singing in a quieter mechanism one? It just might be interesting for people to hear.
Okay, let me to do, I’ll do a five-note scale. And I’m probably move around in pitch as well because there’s quite a lot to show. When you when you’re talking about this subject. Let me do [Ah] that. That’ll do. Okay, so if we go that something slightly more classical, slightly darker. [Ah] I can tell you what that feels like. It feels like the top note flies off somewhere. Now that’s right on my gear change. Okay. If I take away some of that darkness and some of the sort of “down” feel [Ah – Ah] it sort of feels slightly like it’s more in the same place. If I take off even more, [Ah], feels identical. Now, I’m gonna back off the volume a little bit. [Ah] much gentler, I am still in M1, but there are some women who would hear that and say that I was in falsetto.
Gillyanne Kayes 28:12
We find that happens quite a lot in our teaching, don’t we? That that the final one would be identified as a head voice.
Now let me go up a little.
Gillyanne Kayes 28:21
Can I just say, because you did acoustic changes? Yes. And you also did our pressure flow changes?
I did. But I didn’t do any register changes. I didn’t do any mode change
Gillyanne Kayes 28:35
No mechanism change took place.
All in M1. All in M1. Okay. So let me go up a little. [Ah] now this is interesting, because that’s all in M1 too, sorry, that’s all in M1 as well. Ooh look I just did a mix. This is really interesting. Because that feels very light. I’m now well above my primary gear change. That’s an F, my primary gear changes around C#/D. So I’m well above that. But because of what I’m doing, I know this is a register violation if you like, because
Gillyanne Kayes 29:11
How very dare you!
Yeah. Because I’m going above, if I if I don’t do anything, and I do I actually allow the register change to happen. [Ah] That’s what happens. Actually, even that one coming down. I still made it happen higher up, hang on. [Ah]. That’s better. So you can hear that that is a very, very distinct shift from M1 to M2 and back again.
Gillyanne Kayes 29:42
That’s got a lovely yodel flip . Two yodel flips, in fact,
Yeah. And if I slow that down, you’ll hear that the yodel goes in different directions depending on what direction I’m going in. [Ah] I love doing that exercise, but I can disguise it. So I could do the one I started with, which is to go to take the M1 up higher, more easily less breath pressure. I’m hardly doing anything else. Really. I’m just backing off the pressure a bit. [Ah]. All M1. And now if I do the opposite, which is to go into M2, but disguise it a bit better. [Ah] I was in M2 for three of those notes.
Gillyanne Kayes 30:37
And I’m sitting next to him. And I couldn’t really hear it. But he could feel it.
Yeah, absolutely. Definitely.
Gillyanne Kayes 30:45
So if you’re listening to this, it would be really interesting to know who heard it?
Gillyanne Kayes 30:51[Sings] “God help the outcasts, hungry from birth”
Now, just before we tell you what that is, do you hear M1 or M2? Do you hear head voice? Do you hear chest voice? Do you hear falsetto? Do you? I mean, what label would you put on that? Because I know what label I put on it.
Gillyanne Kayes 31:12
Do you want me to say?
Gillyanne Kayes 31:14
That’s mechanism one
Mechanism one. Yep.
Gillyanne Kayes 31:18
That’s my “quiet” chest voice.
Yes That’s mechanism one on B flat 4. Yeah. Do you want to do mechanism two?
Gillyanne Kayes 31:24
I’ll have a go. Okay. You may need to do some cutting and pasting here. [Sings] “God help the outcasts, hungry from birth”
That is all mechanism two. And Gillyanne is very good at taking a clearer, stronger sound right down to C4
Gillyanne Kayes 31:48
And one of the giveaways for me is that because it’s slightly looser, and there’s less resistance at vocal folds level, some of you will have noticed that I had to take a breath in the middle. So in fact, if I chose to sing that phrase, in my mechanism two, I would probably need to take in a larger volume of air so that I could control that flow a bit better, if I wanted to do it in one breath.
Can you switch between the two at some point and make it match?
Unknown Speaker 32:23[Sings] “God help the outcasts, hungry from birth”
Gillyanne Kayes 32:30
Was it good enough?
It was superb, thank you. Yes.
We didn’t rehearse this.
No, not at all. This is really interesting. Because Did you hear where Gillyanne moved from the mechanism two to the mechanism one? It was actually between the two phrases
Gillyanne Kayes 32:45
It was. We will let them respond to that
“God help the outcasts” So she’s on F4. there and she does F4 in M2 and then F4 in M1.
Gillyanne Kayes 32:54
Yeah. On hungry.
Gillyanne Kayes 32:57
Cool. Well, that was putting our heads above the parapet.
Yeah, absolutely. So what’s really interesting about mixing is that mixing first of all can be done on either an M1 or an M2. And mixing really is acoustic, it’s resonance, plus possibly breath pressure. But what it isn’t, is vocal folds.
Gillyanne Kayes 33:19
And when we’re talking about breath pressure, we mean sub glottal pressure, and the level of resistance,
I think it’s also super glottal pressure. So you’ve got down flow as well. And one of the things that we’ve been talking about is, in a way, this is why classical operatic female singers say that you can’t take chest voice high because it will be damaging. And the thing is that given enough, we’ve said this somewhere else, given the vocal setup, the resonance shape, and the breath pressure, and the backflow, and the downflow. Given all of that setup, in order to take your M1 and make it really powerful for operatic singing, you definitely do not want to hold that shape. And that breath pressure when you’re taking M1 higher, this it just won’t work. It will overload you really, really quickly
Gillyanne Kayes 34:07
Because the sub glottal pressure is going up already, isn’t it?
Yeah. So yes, they’re right in if they want, if they want to sing in with their resonance spaces, and with their vocal setups, in an M1 that goes higher, that is not good for them. But the interesting thing is commercial contemporary commercial singers and musical theatre singers, gospel singers, in folk singers, all of these people don’t use that particular resonating shape. To take an M1 higher, they changed the shape. And again, that was one of the things that really led me to “mixing is not about the vocal folds. Mixing is about the resonating spaces and the breath pressure.” Yeah.
Gillyanne Kayes 34:45
And you know, when people talk to us about mixing, we always say, What are you mixing with? What? Can you do it unmixed first and can you do it mixed? And that’s actually quite a useful way to find out what your student is doing and what someone’s talking about. I just want to clarify Um, because we’ve talked a lot about backflow and back pressure, we have aerodynamic back pressure. And we also have acoustic downstream effects, don’t we? Because the sound is actually moving back and forth, the sound wave is moving back and forth in the vocal tract. And that can be enormously helpful in helping us to disguise registers. So we acknowledge that register shifts are acoustic as well as mechanical events.
Yes, I’m going to make a rather sweeping statement. But this is my experience over the last few years, when, up until about three or four years ago, when men were talking about mixing, if they even talked about it at all, they were talking about a finer M1, a finer modal to take that up higher, but still stay in M1. When women talk about mixing, they are usually talking about mixing on an M2 downwards. And so the the scale, if you like is to match the power of your M1 going up with your M2 coming down. And really, that’s that bit in the middle that I think was referred to in the 19th century, or even very late 18th 19th. It was the beginning of the 19th when people were talking about the middle register. Whenever I hear classical singers talking about the middle register female classical singers, they are doing M2 and bringing the head voice downwards and wanting power there. And it’s this middle area between let’s say, E4 and Bb4, somewhere around there
Gillyanne Kayes 36:37
Even up as far as as C5,
No, hang on, hang on, things have changed. Things have changed.
Gillyanne Kayes 36:43
No, hence in classical singing, yeah, the zona di passaggio.
Gillyanne Kayes 36:49
Now what Jeremy was going to there is that what what’s been not so much discovered, but because of the practice of particularly contemporary commercial music singing, we know that that middle area, if you like, can go right the way up to C5, D5, sometimes even Eb5 in the female voice. So it’s still a mechanism one
Gillyanne Kayes 37:13
Yeah, that’s what you’re gonna say wasn’t it?
Well it is, but also the men have changed. This is really interesting, because I’ve had a new influx of students now who are going through who have just been through training in colleges, and now they’re talking about their mix as being a falsetto as being an M2 mix. And they want power in the M2. And this is new, as far as I’m concerned with the people I’m working with. So this is very interesting that the I think the female influences has gone on to the male people now. And then there is another subset, which is rock. And so many of the rock men are singing in a really strong, powered bright M2 and making it sound like M1. So there’s a whole area of this is in a way, why we’re so interested in the names that people call things and what’s going on underneath them. What are the vocal folds themselves doing?
Gillyanne Kayes 38:07
Interesting. I mean, I think there there are some huge cultural changes going on, aren’t there in terms of, I’m just going to use the word gender as in terms of gender expectations of voices and people’s biological sex, and how they want to use their voices that changing and I think that will inform how we think about register mechanisms in the future, in the same way that I think research into contemporary commercial music has informed our understanding of registers simply because the early research into registers was all predicated on the male voice. And we know that the male voice This is a biological male sex is not the norm in Oh, Crikey. Crikey, did I say that? It’s not the norm in terms of the lifecycle of the voice because of the exponential change. During puberty,
let’s just unpack that for a moment because we’re gonna get comments on that
Gillyanne Kayes 39:07
I dug myself the biggest hole, I think I know how to get out of it.
Gillyanne Kayes 39:11
Because I love the way that colleagues across the pond, talk about voices being testosterone influenced or not.
Yeah, I like that, too.
Gillyanne Kayes 39:20
So that’s the big change. Anyway, that is a completely other conversation. And it’s also one of our popups coming up, isn’t it?
What I want to say and this is in a way this, hopefully
Shall we go and hide now?
No no no, this will also underline what Gillyanne has said, which is if there is no testosterone influence, then the child voice and the female adult voice are actually very close together. In terms of range in terms of where the register mechanisms change. They’re very close together. They might not be close together in timbre, but they are close together in range and mechanism issues.
Gillyanne Kayes 39:54
It’s a much more linear progress of growth.
Yes, whereas the male voice testosterone led voice, the moment testosterone hits, there are all sorts of changes that are exponentially bigger. And therefore, the range changes and the register issues change.
Gillyanne Kayes 40:15
Well, I kind of want to conclude with something that I’ve really liked, which I read on Instagram the other day, and it was a quote from an interview with Elizabeth Ann Benson, who’s the author of Training Contemporary Commercial Singers.
Gillyanne Kayes 40:30
Yes, published by Compton, to which I contributed, amongst many other voice trainers. Some really nice work there Elizabeth and well done for navigating all the challenges of an edited book. My understanding from what you said in the interview was, do we really want to common terminology? Or do we just want to be right? Thank you for that
Gillyanne Kayes 40:59
Because I think the important thing is that if we’re going to talk about names and labels for register experiences, we as teachers need to be prepared to be multi lexical. I do think certainly in our practice, we feel that we benefit from the understanding of what register mechanisms are. But in our practice as teachers, we will use lots of different labels according to what our students think and feel
Working with the person in the room.
Gillyanne Kayes 41:28
So in conclusion, next mechanism, the mechanism, the mechanism one and mechanism to that, that you know that the definition of registers as a laryngeal mechanical event for us is very useful. But remember to change your mind is human. And who knows where we’ll be? How we’ll be thinking of that in 10 years time.
There’s something there’s something I wanted to add to that.
Gillyanne Kayes 41:56
That was my conclusion.
That was your conclusion. I know. But there’s still something I want to add, because I think it’s important. We live in a world of comparison that if you like, the entire world is built on comparison. So you have black/white, right/wrong, light/dark, you know, daylight/nighttime, there are there are comparisons there. And I think the most important thing is whatever language somebody uses, it’s, if they want to make them definitive, I immediately go, so what’s the opposite of it? So what’s the different version of it? So can you show me or sing me or tell me why that one is your label and not this one, because this one is different. And if you understand about comparison, and putting things side by side, you go, Oh, I see how that similar or I see how that’s different. And in our world, we go, I see why you’re saying, and I’m still listening underneath and going, that’s an M1 vibration, or that’s an M2 vibration. And we do this on the M1 M2 Workshop. So if you want to call it that, we’re fine with that. We’ll call it that along with you in your session. We know what’s going on underneath. And we know therefore that you must be doing some particular shaping or breath pressure or sound production that is making that thing come out that you’re calling that name.
Gillyanne Kayes 43:16
I think that’s really important. It’s simply no good being, you know, label police, not when you’re teaching, because your job is to work with a singer in the room
Singer in the room.
Gillyanne Kayes 43:28
Are we done on this topic?
Well, we’re done for the moment, I suspect…
Gillyanne Kayes 43:32
We could be very, very done.
I suspect that we might have some comments. So if we do have comments, two things that you can do one is just let us know. You can email us email@example.com or preferably you can send us a an audio message on Speakpipe.com/VocalProcess.
Gillyanne Kayes 43:51
Yeah, send us your AMAs because wasn’t it great that we had that question?
Yes, from Kirk
Gillyanne Kayes 43:57
From the article. That really was the thing that sparked us off to do this particular podcast.
Yes. If you think we haven’t covered anything, send us a speakpipe and we will do it on the next podcast. If we don’t get enough of your comments. We won’t do it on the next podcast. We’ll do something else instead. Right,
Gillyanne Kayes 44:16
I think we’re done
I think we’re done. Thank you very much for listening.
Gillyanne Kayes 44:18
This is a voice. A podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher.