#5  Smoothing out the breaks


Why are there cambiata/passagio/break areas in the voice, and how can we smooth through those areas of the voice?   

In the most recent Bay Area NATS Chapter Newsletter question and answer forum a couple of fine points were made by Lucy Beck; who has a new book out entitled “The Magic of Singing, Tips and Tricks for Developing your Singing Voice”.


If we have a good sense of WHY there are register breaks, we are more apt to develop an approach to HOW to smooth and correct the breaks between registers, and by doing so increase our upward range and unify the quality of our singing voice from top to bottom. 


Understanding the physiology of the mechanism helps!  


There are four separate vocal fold actions involved in the making of sound; muscles shorten or lengthen, open or close.

Normal coordination of the singing voice requires that different musculature is engaged at different points of pitch.

The muscles that close and shorten the folds make our lowest pitches, sounds we identify as chest voice, which are also called heavy mechanism. 

The muscles that lengthen the folds make our highest pitches, the sounds that we identify as head voice, also known as light mechanism. 

In order to navigate through out the full range of the voice, coordination of the four musculatures is required.


Most of us experience two distinct registers in our voices; chest and head.  The break between chest and head voice is called the primo passagio, and roughly an octave higher there is an additional register break called the secondo passagio. 


Singers most often learn HOW to navigate these passagio by approaching them from above the break and taking the voice downwards. This helps to develop good synchronization of two types of the muscles; those that are lengthening and those that are shortening.    



Try this:


Warm up your body and voice gently by using lip trills, voiced consonants or nasal continuants making comfortable octave slides in your easiest range. 

Once this feels quite effortless, make a sighing sound that starts above where the voice is singing easily. Let this sound slide downward. 

Now try the sighing sound giving it a pitch and sighing downward a 4th.  

From that same starting point make the sighing/sliding sound downward to an octave.   

Now try from the same top point a broken arpeggio [8-5-3-1]

And lastly, from that same point try a connected arpeggio [8-5-3-1]


Take this exercise upward and downward by half steps.

Since you are training muscles to coordinate differently, be patient yet consistent.


Have a very fine week,










Copyright © 2010 by Sarah Oppenheim-Beggs