The Ancient Mythology Of Mixed Voice - Part 2 "Debunking Mixed Voice"

In Part 1 I discussed the biases in favor of the Italian school & techniques of singing in mainstream American voice pedagogy. These biased included un-sourced claims, unscientific terminology, & personal opinions being touted as fact; spoken from a position of authority.

Now, let's explore the topic of mixed voice. A popular **Italian idea** supported by many of the big names pedagogy. Does mixed voice exist just because they say so? Let's explore.

Let's continue with a quote on Richard Miller's opinion on the existence of a "mixed voice."

“According to Miller's description of the Italian vocal pedagogy tradition (1977; 1986, pp. 115-149), the primo passaggio was the passage from chest register to middle register and the secondo passaggio was the passage from middle to head register.”

Voice scientists **today** are almost all universally in agreement that **there are only 4 registers,** which they call M1-M4.

 

**M1** - vocal fry

**M2** - chest

**M3** - head

**M4** – whistle

Lets just start with some research!

>"Voix Mixte” register is not produced in an intermediate laryngeal mechanism, but is either produced in laryngeal mechanism M1 (mx1 voix mixte), or in laryngeal mechanism M2 (mx2 voix mixte)."

>"Most research dealing with « middle, medium » registers that we reported in 2004 [1] lack objective documentation identifying with certainty the vibratory mechanism involved, or do not pertain to the mixing proper.

>"The analyses presented here confirm the conclusions of our previous study [1]. Singers produce voix mixte either in mechanism 1 or in mechanism 2. This is in keeping with the singers' own intuition concerning the laryngeal mechanism that they use"

Source: http://www.lam.jussieu.fr/Membres/Lamesch/ICA07_Castellengo_et_al.pdf

This is just one study, though! (A big issue with voice pedagogy in general is that there aren’t enough damn studies!) However, there are enough on mixed voice for us to say that, most likely, **the register doesn’t exist as a laryngeal function.** Let’s continue.

>"While vibratory sensations definitely occur they were not considered to be defining characteristics of registers. Defining characteristics are the physical and acoustic events that give rise to the sensations. While the committee agreed that the sensations may be helpful in the education of singers and speakers, they could not accept them as scientific evidence for defining registers.”

Source: http://www.leonthurman.com/PDF/PAS2%20Registers%20Paper%202004.pdf

So just because something FEELS like a mixture of head and chest doesn’t mean that it is. It’s an obvious conclusion, yet **so many aspects of modern voice pedagogy and singing technique are based on subjective “feeling.”**

**Enrico Caruso notoriously participated in a study on the function of the soft palate in singing. He was convinced he raised his soft palate; the study proved otherwise. Enraged, Caruso demanded his name was removed from the study.**

But more on mixed voice. If evidence of it’s existence has never been proven and, in fact, there are several studies disproving it then why is it so widely believed?

>"At the time of the 1982 CoMeT Voice Registers Committee report (previously described), no measurable evidence for a middle register had been found (Register #2A) and the committee did not support its certain existence.

hmm.. go on...

>Singing teacher committee members strongly argued that a middle register exists. They indicated that middle register (#2A) is thought to result from“mixtures” of the laryngeal coordinations that are related to chest (#2 or lower) and head (#3 or upper) registers. The centuries-old concepts of voce mista (voix mixte) and the zoni di passage were cited as evidence for the existence of this register.”

okay...

>“Based on information from the tradition of singing pedagogy, a possible middle register between #2 and #3 was added and designated #2A (e.g., Hollien &Schoenhard, 1983a,b). No scientific evidence for the existence of this register was found by the committee at that time.”

Source: http://www.leonthurman.com/PDF/PAS2%20Registers%20Paper%202004.pdf

Oh, so because some teachers thought it existed because the idea has been around since blood-letting… therefore it **MUST** be scientifically valid! **In any other field these people would have been laughed out of the room!** So because we have believed for centuries that God created the Earth as the center of the universe; it must be true, right? According to traditional chinese medicine, mental illnesses we're caused by demons. **The remedy was to beat the demon out of the mentally ill person.** Maybe someone needed to beat the demons out of Richard Miller.

http://www.leonthurman.com/PDF/PAS2%20Registers%20Paper%202004.pdf

>“Likewise, no studies have characterized the laryngeal behavior of the CCM mix voice. Several studies of the classical “voix mixte” (Castellengo et al., 2004; Lamesch et al., 2007) have suggested that it can be produced either in M1 or in M2 laryngeal mechanism but never in an intermediary mechanism. Instead singers slightly modify their vocal effort and vocal tract adjustment so that the resulting sound is similar to the usual quality of the other laryngeal mechanism. Sundberg et al.(1993) found in a single female subject that mix demonstrated features of both classical and belt singing: voice energy was enhanced in high frequencies and first and second formants were measured at higher frequencies, similar to belt production. On the other hand, subglottal pressure and SPL were measured at moderate values closer to operatic singing.

Source: http://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/reprints/TracyMaeva.pdf

How much more proof is needed? Maybe there are a couple of old studies which ~some~ pedagogues created theories from in order to support their preexisting assumptions. But **30-70 years ago, we didn't have laryngoscopes!** Today, we have cameras so advanced we can easily observe and record laryngeal movements. **Things have changed!!!** *Mainstream singing technique is still stuck in pre-scientific and, frankly, made up nonsense!*

"The three singers who were able to demonstrate mix quality used different glottal and vocal tract strategies to produce a sound that was “in between” belt and legit. Because we have only measured a small sample of singers, these results can only be regarded as indicative.”

Source: http://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/reprints/TracyMaeva.pdf

Yes, I included the part about the small sample size. These studies aren't without limitation. But there are many more out there aside from the maybe 5 or so that have been referenced. I'm not saying that mixed voice doesn't exist, I'm saying there is no proof that it exists. And, that the evidence to date isn't very promising for the future of the "mixed voice."