You might have heard of the whistle voice or the whistle register. Even if you’re not familiar with these terms, you’ve probably heard singers like Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande or Mitch Grassi from the Pentatonix sing in this really, really, really high voice.
It is more common for women but some man can also access their whistle register and hit those crazy high notes. Let’s take a closer look at the highest register of all.
What is Whistle Voice?
The whistle register is a bit of a false register. It is different from all the other registers because the vocal folds aren’t actually vibrating.
On all the other registers the vocal folds are vibrating but on the in whistle voice the vocal folds are stretched, and instead of closing, the edges of the vocal folds are producing turbulences resulting in a flute-like sound.
The air moves through a chamber behind the bottoms of the vocal folds and that creates a whistle like sound.
How to practice Whistle Voice?
Take a breath and stop mid-way, this will encourage the tops of your vocal folds to touch. Then slowly push a bit of air through. You should hear a squeaky sound.
Step 1: Experiment with the sound
Don’t over-blow the air or force it. It will likely feel fairly small, unprojected, nearly effortless, but not necessarily a sound you would use in a solo song just yet.
Step 2: Pitch Match
The range of the whistle voice extends from C6 (Soprano ‘High C’) and goes as high as you can. Play a 5-tone scale starting with the highest note (5-4-3-2-1-) and try to match the pitches. Try this exercise first on an /u/ (oo) vowel.
Step 3: Play with the Vowels
If you have discovered your whistle voice on a narrow vowel like the /u/ (oo), drop your jaw a little and experiment with different lip shapes. Try for example an /a/ (ah) vowel.
Step 4: Sustain the Note
Once you’re able to produce a whistle note and you’ve played with different vowels, hold it for a few seconds.
Is Whistle Voice an important register?
It’s not a necessary register but it still has an interesting effect musically. If you practice it, you will find it easier to access those super high notes but I would not put too much attention or focus on this register. There are not many songs written in this range but if you can access those notes, why not?
Is Whistle Voice healthy?
As a general rule during your vocal practice, be cautious, if it doesn’t feel right, stop! If you follow this rule, you should not run into vocal disorders, even with your whistle voice.
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