Vocal Curiosities (Part 2)
By Fabio Ramesha Nani
A couple of months ago I shared with you a few curious things about the voice: the ability to break a glass with your voice, and overtone singing, or the ability to sing two notes at once.
Following is an article from operatraining.com, which describes the so-called whistle register, or the ability to produce incredibly high sounds with the voice.
The Whistle Register
The whistle register is the highest register in a human’s voice. It’s also called super head voice, flute register and flageolet register. The sound produced in this register usually sounds like a flute. It’s not used often in opera and pop music, however, interest has increased due to commercial artists using this register. The most famous pop artist who frequently uses this register in her music is Mariah Carey. She reached F7* in a live performance of her hit single “Emotions”. Usage of the whistle register is mostly for decorative purposes. Another famous “whistle register user” is Yma Sumac. In several recordings she imitates bird sounds quite authentically.
Whistle Register in Opera
Some of the Bel Canto operas require notes that are considered to belong to the Whistle Register. Coloratura Sopranos are the only ones using this range. The most famous opera requiring such high notes is Queen of the Night aria in Die Zauberflöte.
How It Works
There is still not much known about this ultra high register, some even say it’s merely the top of the head voice and shouldn’t have it’s own name. What we do know is that it starts somewhere around an E6. It is possible to produce lower notes through the whistle register. It is believed to start below the E6* in males, and around that tone in females. Your regular range and voice type can also influence where exactly it starts. It’s not a register that you can just access without any practice. It’s also not known whether everyone possesses this register.
If you have not “found” your whistle register yet you can try doing some exercises in your top range. The first few sounds coming from this register will probably sound like a small squeak. The sound is light and not strong. It may take several years before you are able to effectively control your whistle register. Please note that you will need to be careful not to strain and/or damage your voice with incorrect exercises. Do not exercise the top range for more than a few minutes per day. If you are feeling strain then stop immediately. It’s not worth damaging your voice just to find a few extra notes that you may never use.
*Oh, and if you’re wondering, “F7” refers to the note F 4 octaves above middle C, while “E6” is E 3 octaves above middle C
Here are some examples:
And if you’re thinking of establishing a new record:
Fabio Ramesha Nani
Feel free to contact me about any singing-related issue or doubt that you might have. I will do my best to help you find a solution for it.