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By Selena, 25/10/2021, Category:Singing with freedom and creativity, Unlock your vocal potential
So what exactly are vocal registers? Well, first and foremost, they're a function of the vocal folds. The vocal folds create the pitch of your voice. There are two flaps of tissues stretched across your larynx or voice box, and they open and close (vibrate) hundreds of times per second to produce sound.
As you can see, there's a difference in these registers / mechanisms between: A) the regularity of vibration;
B) the thickness of the vocal folds contact with each other;
C) the frequency of vibration or speed; and
D) How much connection they make.
So, M0 corresponds to what's commonly known as vocal fry or creak. The vocal folds vibrate with low speed and low pitch. They have a lot of contact, and they meet irregularly.
M1 corresponds to what we generally call chest voice. The vocal folds vibrate with fairly low frequency or speed, but faster than M0. They have a fairly meaty or thick contact, and they touch regularly.
M2 corresponds to what we normally think of as head voice. The vocal folds are vibrating faster, regularly, and they meet with thinner edges.
M3 corresponds to what is known as whistle voice. This is extremely high pitched. It's super fast, thin, the vocal cords meet regularly and contact is barely made. Below, is an audio demonstration of each of these registers. I demonstrate vocal fry, chest and head voice.
Mariah Carey here will demonstrate Whistle voice.
So how do we achieve these distinct registers, how are they generated? Well, there's a lot to it. but one thing we can say for sure. It's a lot to do with how the vocal cords vibrate. Have a look at this diagram, this shows the vocal folds from the side in cross section. They're made of five layers of different kinds of tissue, but they function as two layers, the body and the cover. The top three layers together are known as the cover, and the inner two layers are together known as the body.
Different parts of the vocal folds can vibrate separately or together, and this forms a major part of what distinguishes and creates vocal registers. In M0, both the body and cover are loose.
In M1, both the body and cover are vibrating.
In M2 only the cover vibrates.
In M3, only the very inner edges of the vocal folds are vibrating, that's the cover, they're very thin and stretched and they don't close completely. So what is the main problem with vocal registers?
Sorry if those terms sound jargon-y to you. They may sound technical, but they are all just tools you can learn, and which you probably already have some control of.
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