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develop your PASSAGGIO FOR VOCAL FREEDOM!



Every singer whether they know it or not is looking to develop the Passaggio area of the voice. So let’s talk about why it's one of the most challenging areas of the voice to develop for us singers. Let's do this! ;)


What is the Passaggio?

The Passaggio is Italian for passage or crossing, a passage from one place to another. For us singers, it’s the area of transition, the area of crossing over from chest voice (the lower part of our voice) to Head Voice (the higher part of our voice). Basically, the Passaggio is where chest voice and head voice connect/or meet in the middle. It’s also known as the bridge, the break, the mix voice, and the middle voice.


Why Is Developing The Passaggio Important?

The majority of song melodies are sung in and around this area of the voice.

If we were to extract the pitches from most contemporary song melodies, we would find that the majority of the pitches land right in the middle of the Passaggio area.


If a singer’s unable to sing in the Passaggio area effectively, it could potentially cause all kinds of vocal problems, including fatigue, which could lead to other types of vocal issues.


Ultimately, learning how to develop and navigate the Passaggio area is going to give you the vocal freedom to creatively express yourself through song without any hindrance.

Why Is It So Challenging?

The Passaggio area is challenging because there are two major shifts that happen in the voice. There’s a shift that happens between the two main resonating chambers, the throat chamber (for chest voice) and the mouth chamber (for head voice). These two resonators are what energise the vibrations or soundwaves that originate from the vocal cords when singing.


Then if that wasn't enough. There’s also a shift that happens between the two main muscles involved in singing. The Thyroarytenoid Muscle (TA) which is mainly responsible for the lower notes in the voice (chest voice). And the Cricothyroid Muscle (CT) which is mainly responsible for the higher notes in the voice (head voice).


Developing the Passaggio area is all about building good teamwork between both the resonating chambers (throat and mouth) and the two main muscle groups (TA and CT).


Where Is The Passaggio Area

The General starting points vary for each singer but you will mainly find the female Passaggio sits around Ab4-Bb4 and the male Passaggio sits around D4-E4.


Singing Through...

For some, singing through the Passaggio can be great, for some, not so great, and for others, it can be a painful or traumatic experience. Having the ability to create a smooth transition between chest voice and head voice, both audibly and anatomically can be challenging. But the good news is that with intentional practice, a smooth transition can be achieved.


I want you to have a think about what you experience when you sing through the Passaggio area. Do you transition through smoothly or is it a little bumpy?


Likely Scenarios

Let’s talk about two common scenarios that can happen when singing through the Passaggio.


Scenario One - When singing through you sound a bit squeezed, loud and/or shouty.


Scenario Two - When singing through you sound a bit soft, weak and/or breathy.


Which one do you experience the most? If you don’t currently know, try singing through your Passaggio now and pay attention to what it sounds like for you.


Scenario One

If you find that you're experiencing more of scenario one, then we would need to work on eliminating vocal strain in the Passaggio area. This can be done by decompressing the vocal cords, encouraging more head voice resonance and lowering the larynx.


Here are a few exercises you can try for scenario one. Closed vowels and soft consonants usually work best for this scenario.


Exercises To Try

WEE/WOOF/WOW on an octave descending scale starting from the top end of the Passaggio.


Starting notes

Male - G#4 and bring it down

Female - C#5 and bring it down


Scenario Two

If you find that you're experiencing more of scenario two, then we would need to work on improving the function of the vocal cords in the Passaggio area. This can be done by encouraging more chest voice resonance and increasing the vocal cords closure.


Here are a few exercises you can try for scenario two. Open vowels and harder consonants usually work best for this scenario.


Exercises To Try

GUG/NEH/NAY/BUH on a normal octave scale starting from the bottom end of the Passaggio.


Starting notes

Male - D4 and working up

Female - G#4 and working up


Another Exercise To Try

My fave, the straw. This semi-occluded vocal tract exercise will help to smooth out the Passaggio area over time and it is good for both scenarios! Give it a go!


How To Straw

Pop a straw or two into your mouth and hum through the straw on a pitch glides, going from a comfortable low note to a comfortable high note and back down again. Ensure that there’s no air escape through the nose and/or the lips for the duration of the exercise. Do this exercise for around 2-4 minutes. Then take it to a simple scale. A three-tone scale is usually a good one.


Starting notes

Male - D4 and working up

Female - G#4 and working up


Wrapping It Up

There are many different exercises that can help with developing the Passaggio. The exercises above are just a few to help get you started.


If you need help with developing your Passaggio, you can book a one to one online vocal training session with me here.


And Remember!

The only reason for mastering technique is to make sure the body does not prevent the soul from expressing itself. La Meri.


If you have any questions, send them through. I’m always happy to help!

Thanks for reading!


That’s it from me. Peace out! ;)

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 cm@cmvocalcoach.com  |  Tel: +44 7590 44 31 95

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