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Is a "Head Voice" similar to pitch shift up without formant changes?

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Is a "Head Voice" similar to pitch shift up without formant changes?

Postby alexis » Thu Dec 24, 2015 3:39 pm

Hi, sorry if this is the wrong subforum, I wasn't sure where to ask it.

When pitch-shifting a vocal up a large amount (a 5th, e.g.) without formant changes (using Cubase VariAudio here), I noticed the similarity to what I think of as a Head Voice, e.g., Mcartney's harmony in I Want To Hold Your Hand or From Me To You, Graham Nash's in just about any Hollies song, Eric Carmen in the chorus of All By Myself, etc.

Would it be reasonable to think of those vocals in a sense being a pitch shift up without preserving the formants present when singing in more conventional male registers?

In the bit I was playing with I actually like the effect of shifting up without affecting formants. I have to say I don't have a good vocal pitch shifter that does preserve formants, so I can't really compare.

Thanks for any thoughts!
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Re: Is a "Head Voice" similar to pitch shift up without formant changes?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Thu Dec 24, 2015 5:12 pm

Interesting question, whether someone's head voice formant is simply their chest voice formant transposed up. Research isn't coming up with much.
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Re: Is a "Head Voice" similar to pitch shift up without formant changes?

Postby alexis » Fri Dec 25, 2015 5:54 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:Interesting question, whether someone's head voice formant is simply their chest voice formant transposed up. Research isn't coming up with much.



Thanks for the answer and the thought, Exalted Wombat!

Thinking about it more, it seems to me that there is much less variation in "head voice" sounds between singers than in their "chest voice" sounds. For example, Eric Carmen and Paul McCartney sound quite different when singing in chest voice mode, but have much more similar head voices.

Also noticed that Paul's chest voice has changed drastically over the decades, but his head voice doesn't seem to have changed nearly as much. I've noticed that as well in other singers I've known for years (my Mom, for example).

All this leading me to wonder if head voice formants are more distinct/independent of chest voice formants than I initially thought. Hmm, changing my opinion without a shred of actual real evidence/data ... :blush: :D.

Regardless of all that, I do find that transposing vocals up a large amount (a 5th for example) without concurrent formant transposition (as in Cubase's VariAudio) makes a chest voice sound like a pure/sweet head voice - very useful for a "different singer" type of effect.
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Re: Is a "Head Voice" similar to pitch shift up without formant changes?

Postby damoore » Sat Dec 26, 2015 3:34 pm

If you are pitch shifting the part then you are also pitch shifting the formants. So, if effect, making the resonant cavity 2/3 the size , for a fifth up.

So I would expect the answer to be yes, it is similar, but not indistinguishable. i.e. probably less convincing than turning an alto sax into a folded soprano by shifting it up a fifth. I don't know how convincing the latter is, not having tried it but I would expect that to be more convincing than turning a bari into a tenor because of the greater involvement of the chest cavity in the lower instruments.
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Re: Is a "Head Voice" similar to pitch shift up without formant changes?

Postby oggyb » Sun Jan 03, 2016 3:38 am

Chest voice and falsetto have a completely different overtone patterns caused by multiple factors, including primary resonating space and the shape of the vocal chords. For this reason I would *generally* expect a pitch-shifted chest voice to sound like a chipmunk, rather than like falsetto.

Falsetto is often a "duller" sound and so is slightly (but not much) more tolerant of pitch shifting.
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Re: Is a "Head Voice" similar to pitch shift up without formant changes?

Postby damoore » Sun Jan 03, 2016 1:36 pm

oggyb wrote:Chest voice and falsetto have a completely different overtone patterns caused by multiple factors,

No doubt, but falsetto is not the same as head voice.
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Re: Is a "Head Voice" similar to pitch shift up without formant changes?

Postby oggyb » Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:04 am

damoore wrote:
oggyb wrote:Chest voice and falsetto have a completely different overtone patterns caused by multiple factors,

No doubt, but falsetto is not the same as head voice.

So, to be clear, are you talking about the middle register, what most people would call the "floaty" voice?
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