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Chest voice is a term used within vocal music. The use of this term varies widely within vocal pedagogical circles and there is currently no one consistent opinion among vocal music professionals in regards to this term. Chest voice can be used in relation to the following:

History[edit]

The first recorded mention of the term chest voice was around the 13th century, when it was distinguished from the throat and the head voice (pectoris, guttoris, capitis -- at this time it is likely head voice referred to the falsetto register) by the writers Johannes de Garlandia and Jerome of Moravia.[2] The term was later redefined during the bel canto period when it was identified as the lowest of three vocal registers: the chest, passaggio and head registers. This approach is still taught by some vocal pedagogists today.[3]

However as knowledge of human physiology has increased over the past two hundred years, so has the understanding of the physical process of singing and vocal production. As a result, many vocal pedagogists have redefined or even abandoned the use of the term chest voice.[3] In particular, the use of the term chest register has become controversial since vocal registration is more commonly seen today as a product of laryngeal function that is unrelated to the physiology of the chest and lungs. For this reason, many vocal pedagogists argue that it is meaningless to speak of registers being produced in the chest. The vibratory sensations which are felt in these areas are resonance phenomena and should be described in terms related to vocal resonance, not to registers. These vocal pedagogists prefer the term "chest voice" over the term "chest register". These vocal pedagogists also hold that many of the problems which people identify as register problems are really problems of resonance adjustment. This helps to explain the controversy over this terminology. Also, the term chest register is not used within speech pathology and is not one of the four main vocal registers identified by speech pathologists. For the purposes of this article, the term "chest voice" is adopted as it is less controversial.[1]

The contemporary use of the term chest voice often refers to a specific kind of vocal coloration or vocal timbre. In classical singing, its use is limited entirely to the lower part of the modal register or normal voice. Chest timbre can add a wonderful array of sounds to a singers vocal interpretive palette. The introduction of chest timbre is common to singers trained in the historic Italian school, but largely shunned among singers who have emerged from the Nordic/Germanic tradition. Such approval or disapproval is largely an aesthetic decision.[4] However, the use of overly strong chest voice in the higher registers in an attempt to hit higher notes in the chest can lead to forcing. Forcing can lead consequently to vocal deterioration.[5]

Physiological process[edit]

As the opinions on what exactly chest voice is vary greatly, there is no one consensus on the physiological production of chest voice. However there is a developing body of scientific knowledge regarding the production of various definitions of chest voice:

Bel canto understanding[edit]

Vocal fold, scheme
Glottal cycle, chest voice

This view understands chest voice as the vocal register used within normal speech. It was discovered via stroboscope that during ordinary phonation, or speaking in a man the vocal folds contact with each other completely during each vibration closing the gap between them fully, if just for a small length of time. This closure cuts off the escaping air. When the air pressure in the trachea rises as a result of this closure, the folds are blown apart, while the vocal processes of the arytenoid cartilages remain in apposition. This creates an oval shaped gap between the folds and some air escapes, lowering the pressure inside the trachea. Rhythmic repetition of this movement a certain number of times a second creates a pitched note. This is how the chest voice is created.[2]

Vocal resonance understanding[edit]

This view believes that the chest voice is a product not of vocal registration but vocal resonation. Opinions within this understanding vary. Although some pedagogists believe the chest is an effective resonator, most agree that chest voice actually resonates in the head while creating vibratory sensations in the chest. Tarneaud says,

"during singing, the vibration of the vocal folds impresses periodic shakes on the laryngeal cartilage which transmits them to the bones in the thorax via the laryngeal depressors, and to the bony structures in the head via the laryngeal elevators. Singers feel these shakes in the form of thoracic and facial vibrations".

These internal phonatory sensations produced by laryngeal vibrations are called "resonance" by singers and teachers of singing.[6]

During singing in the lower register, the larynx is lowered since the muscles which connect it to the rib cage are tensed whereas the muscles above the larynx are not tensed. Consequently, a large proportion of the vibratory energy is transmitted to the thoracic area, giving singers the impression that their voice is resonating in the chest. This impression however is false. The chest by virtue of its design and location can make no significant contribution to the resonance system of the voice. The chest is on the wrong side of the vocal folds and there is nothing in the design of the lungs that could serve to reflect sound waves back toward the larynx.[1]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c McKinney, James (1994). The Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults. Genovex Music Group. ISBN 978-1-56593-940-0. 
  2. ^ a b The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians. Edited by Stanley Sadie, Volume 6. Edmund to Fryklund. ISBN 1-56159-174-2, Copyright Macmillan 1980.
  3. ^ a b Stark, James (2003). Bel Canto: A History of Vocal Pedagogy. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-8614-3. 
  4. ^ Miller, Richard (2004). Solutions for Singers. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-516005-5. 
  5. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of Opera. John Warrack and Ewan West, ISBN 0-19-869164-5
  6. ^ Tarneaud, J. (November 1933). "Study of larynx and of voice by stroboscopy". Clinque (Paris) 28: 337–341. 

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chest_voice — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
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20 news items

Boston Globe

Boston Globe
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:05:31 -0700

Kate Soper's 2009 “Helen Enfettered,” to elusively atmospheric texts by Christian Bök, shaped its portrait of Helen of Troy by highlighting means of production, each movement an etude on a particular vocal technique: head voice, chest voice, snappy ...
 
Gazettextra
Wed, 09 Jul 2014 10:37:30 -0700

He said his goal was to “integrate that upper falsetto into my chest voice and expand my range that way.” “I … sang up the scale to a pretty high note,” Terry recalled. His voice professor, Adriana Zabala—herself a noted mezzo-soprano—asked him to ...
 
TheDay.com
Wed, 09 Jul 2014 21:33:24 -0700

Love says he sets himself apart from other vocal coaches by teaching three parts of the human voice, recognizing that there's a "middle voice" between the chest voice and head voice that bridges the two to create a greater range. But more than ...

Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 07:03:45 -0700

Love says he sets himself apart from other vocal coaches by teaching three parts of the human voice, including a ''middle voice'' between the chest voice and head voice that bridges the two to create a greater range. But more than technique, he tries ...
 
OCRegister
Fri, 27 Jun 2014 12:01:57 -0700

His only shortcoming is a chest voice that's not as well controlled as his heroic falsetto. Dromard finds a way to make DeVito just loveable enough that we can tolerate his sins – up to a point, at least. The actor also shows us shades of guilt under ...

Death and Taxes

Death and Taxes
Wed, 09 Jul 2014 09:46:09 -0700

If you're a woman, the song is likely right where the break between your chest voice and your head voice is, which can be a strain even if you're pretty well warmed up. It would actually come as a surprise to me, however, if anyone thought Britney ...
 
Noise
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:03:45 -0700

More recently, I've learned to develop a mix where you're singing in between your chest voice and falsetto. Q: Congratulations on the new album, “Stereolithic.” This was 311's first independent release since your early days. What was it like going ...
 
Lansing State Journal
Wed, 09 Jul 2014 14:11:15 -0700

More recently, I've learned to develop a mix where you're singing in between your chest voice and falsetto. Q: Congratulations on the new album, “Stereolithic.” This was 311's first independent release since your early days. What was it like going ...
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