“Chest Voice Is For Pop/Rock”

A common myth concerns something called “Chest Voice,” what it is and what it is good for.  Is it only for pop or rock music?

Chest voice is so named because many feel vibration in the bones of the chest.  This vibration does happen. But, really it is when we sing at our lowest pitches with almost exclusive arytenoid muscle system activity wherein the vibrating vocal cords are thickest in length, width, and depth.  

When the chest voice, or muscle system responsible for producing this texture of sound, is not coordinated with the other lighter voice or muscle system, then we get a chest voice that is rough and gruff. This can be used for certain primal sounds that are cool, but if there is an attempt to move up the scale without good coordination then damage can occur.  I think of it as being in the basement. I can store things down there, and make it into a cool space, but I need to have some stairs so I can get out of the basement and into the first floor so as to not be stuck.

As there is coordination, the chest voice that is raw becomes a part of the rest of the vocal house so to speak. Whether we sing pop or rock or classical, everybody needs a good chest voice to become integrated so as to sing low without disengaging the stretcher muscle.  I actually like to talk about this integrated chest voice as being the foundation of our vocal house (lower full voice) indicating that both muscles are involved in adjusting the vocal cords.

The vocal house can then have a finely constructed first and second floor which is needed in the voices of all singers, regardless of style.


Allen Rascoe

about the author

Allen Rascoe Allen has been enjoying singing since he was a little kid. He officially studied voice at ECU and USC. However, he ran... Read More