Chest voice is essential for singing and speaking, but some people have never used it -says Justin Stoney.
In singing, Chest Voice (or chest register) is the vocal coordination characterized by thicker, shorter vocal folds which vibrate with a high closed quotient.
Well try this: Say, “HELLO!” – because Chest Voice is nothing more than your speaking voice.
Now that’s easier to understand!
Easier to understand, yes, but not for those women who have perhaps never used it.
You see, there are some people (almost always women, rarely men) who don’t speak in their Chest Voice, and therefore find it very difficult to produce the stronger singing qualities such as Belting.
We asked Justin Stoney of New York Vocal Coaching to explain how he helps these singers to find their Chest Voice:
We recently produced a Belting trilogy on the New York Vocal Coaching YouTube channel to help singers learn to Belt, and I dedicated the entire first episode to Chest Voice. I did this because, although many people assume Chest Voice is a given, that is actually not true for everyone.
I have worked with women who have simply never been in their Chest Voice. Often, it is because their culture has taught them to speak very lightly.
We generally call Chest Voice our “speaking register,” but if you’ve been speaking in a light, higher voice all the time, you are really not using your Chest Voice when you speak. You are likely using Head-Dominant Mix (See article: “Learn To Belt By Understanding Vocal Registers”).
Chest Voice can be your biggest breakthrough
I was just in Sweden teaching some vocal master classes. Many of the women there had been taught to be quiet and reserved, and not to speak out. Almost none of them had ever experienced what Chest Voice feels like.
In the beginning, these individuals would resist, saying, “You want me to do WHAT? Oh, but it sounds so ugly! I never would dare!”
Then, after discovering their Chest Voice they’d be elated! They’d say, “Wow! My voice is so strong; I never knew it could be like that!”
For them, finding their Chest Voice was the biggest breakthrough they’d ever had in their singing.
Sound ugly to find your Chest Voice
To help singers find their Chest Voice, I have them make a strong, yell-y ugly, call-in-the-distance, stage speaking voice.
It’s a lot of calling out “Hey!” or “Yo!” Or calling to a friend across the street, “You over there!” or, “Taxi!!”
We try to get the voice used to the shout function initially, which embodies the intensity of the Chest Voice.
In contexts like these, my job requires a lot of charm! I have to convince people to make a horrible noise and then also convince them it actually sounds good.
Chest Voice is necessary for singers
The Chest Voice is the first “gear” of your singing voice. If you don’t have that first gear coordinated, then you don’t have your “strength” coordinated.
For example, how are you going to find a Chest Dominant Mix if Chest Voice isn’t working?
A lot of this work can be quite psychological, because it often requires going against what one has been conditioned to do.
Chest Voice helps professional speaking too
My team of voice experts* works with speech training as well.
We frequently get female clients who work in the corporate setting. They come to us because they don’t like the way their voices come across. They don’t think that they command authority, respect, or are being taken seriously.
They often feel that their voices are too girly, too “nasal”.
Usually, the problem these women are experiencing, is they are lacking that true Chest Voice sound. Just like with the singers, we help them unlock their Chest Voice, and find the speaking voice that is most advantageous for their work life.
* NYVC’s sister company, New York Speech Coaching, specializes in speaking voice enhancement.
My Reaction to This Week's Singing Competition Entry
Isaack Joackim - Yesu mkombozi
Isaack sings with a smooth and beautiful tone. He is highly skilled within his style and his piano skills are also a great touch. He does a lovely job of moving between lighter breathier textures and a solider and stronger Mix coordination. Also, his riffs and runs are quite crisp and well executed as a whole. There are some small pitch problems throughout the performance. They are not egregious enough to spoil the overall performance, but they are definitely something to watch in the future. It sounds like the piece just needs a little more polish and a little more practice time – both with the piano and with the voice. If the pitch and musical issues can be tightened up, then Isaack will continue to have success as an artist who knows how to embody the emotion and authenticity of his style!
Justin Stoney is an internationally recognized Vocal Coach, and is the Founder of New York Vocal Coaching. As one of the leading Voice Teachers in today’s industry, Justin has worked with thousands of singers, including students from over 60 countries, Celebrity Recording Artists, Tony Nominees, and anyone seeking to “Make A Joyful Noise!”