Friday, April 19, 2013


Forgive me.  It's been quite a while since I wrote anything insanely technical.  When I found out people actually read this, I became intensely self-conscious.  It is more fun to just write whatever I want.

I used the term "falsettist" instead of "countertenor" on several occasions and thought perhaps I should try to see if anyone fully explains falsetto.  Ugh.  Unfortunately everything I find is nonsense, including Wikipedia.

Falsetto is not breathiness.  It's not a register.  It's a technique.  It means that only the edges of the folds are vibrating and not the whole thing, specifically not the cartilages.  It is generally accompanied by a relatively high larynx since the force of pulling the larynx down might pull you out of falsetto.  Anyone can do it, I suppose on any note, but it is more easily identifiable when a man does it on relatively high notes.

David Daniels is doing it in this film.

But so is this guy. Skip ahead to 1:50.  Warning.  Not for the faint of heart.

I'd have to have a guinea pig to try this on, but can a man messa di voce from a falsetto into a normal tone?  You'd have to pick the right note, I suppose.

Maybe there are other books.  I haven't spent huge amounts of time looking for them.  But for me the only real book on vocal technique is William Vennard Singing the Mechanism and the Technic.  I have the 1967 version.  If you want a complete explanation, see Vennard, but don't expect it to be easy to understand.

A countertenor is singing falsetto, and it is certainly not breathy.  It has been a feature of certain pop singers.  I'll try to find a good example.  There's a song on YouTube called "Falsetto," which I will not post, where the guy sings most of the time in his normal voice and slips into falsetto to imitate a woman.  The normal singing is breathier than the falsetto, resulting in an excellent comparison between the two methods.

Here we go.  I buy this as falsetto.

I am baffled by the videos on YouTube purporting to explain this and not succeeding.  

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