Some people like to say that only males can sing falsetto. Others like to say that only women are capable of singing falsetto. Which side is right and which is wrong? Technically speaking, anyone is capable of falsetto singing, so both of these myths are untrue. To understand why both women and men are capable, we must first take a deep dive into what falsetto singing really means for your vocal cords.
The term falsetto is referring to the vocal register occupying the frequency range just above your modal voice register and overlapping with it by approximately one octave. Does that sound a bit confusing? I thought so too when I first did my research deep dive.
The term falsetto in music refers to a type of vocal phonation that enables the singer to sing notes beyond the vocal range of the normal (modal) voice. This vocal phonation usually comes out higher, breathy, and more relaxed than notes hit with your normal voice. In the modal register, the vocal folds connect with each other completely during each vibration, closing the gap between them fully. In a falsetto voice, the vocal folds are seen to be blown apart.
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Before research done by scientists in the 1950s and 1960s, it was widely believed that only males were able to sing falsetto. This may be because males have a more obvious tonal switch to falsetto singing than women do. Even now that it has been proven that women have a falsetto register, the issue of female falsetto is still being met with debates in the music teacher world.
On the opposite end, a common more modern myth going around the music world is that only women have a falsetto voice, or that men should not use this voice style because of its so-called feminine qualities. There is nothing wrong with either sex singing with this voice as long as they do it healthily.
Many people like to interchange the words falsetto and head voice, but there is a difference between the two. Some people who claim women can't sing falsetto say that they instead have head voice singing, but women can do both. To put it simply, falsetto singing is just head voice singing with a more airy approach to the notes. A full approach to note using your head voice is more powerful than falsetto and still less powerful than using your chest voice.
People who are even less familiar with musical terms often confuse soprano singing with falsetto singing. While falsetto singing often falls in the range of a soprano, remember that falsetto is all about the breathy approach to these notes that use your vocal cords completely different than with your normal voice. Sopranos are capable of singing falsetto, but so are altos, tenors, and basses as well. As an example, for a low bass singer, their falsetto may more often fall in the alto range instead of the soprano range.
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Falsetto singing isn't often found in a genre like classical music. Think of all the songs you'd imagine a whisper singing style on. Opera songs in particular use full chest voice, head voice, and sometimes a mixed voice. But you'll rarely hear falsetto. Pop music on the other hand often has a whispery style of singing often paired with notes higher than the singer's range. This is especially true of male pop singers like Justin Beiber or Bruno Mars who often sing falsetto.
My favorite song I like to think of when it comes to singing falsetto is literally titled "Falsetto" by The Dream. Throughout this song, he often sings in his falsetto voice and is describing a female who is hitting high notes during a passionate moment. See, the Dream knows that women can sing falsetto!
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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