So what does falsetto mean? And what does headvoice mean? There are actually 2 different definitions going around that I’ll explain in this article. When you train with a vocal coach or study from any singing program/book, it’s integral you understand what their definition of falsetto and headvoice is otherwise you may be practicing incorrectly!
First off, falsetto means “false voice”. It’s that mode you flip or break into when you try to sing higher than you can currently do. It’s the same voice you use when you imitate a baby or little girl. Your “girly voice” or “mickey mouse voice” as some people call it. In the female voice, falsetto is sometimes known as “flute voice” due to the very hollow, hooty sound it makes.
The modern definition of falsetto
Currently most people define falsetto and headvoice as pretty much the same thing. The terms tend to be used interchangeably. Many will say headvoice is simply a non-breathy version of falsetto. Not everyone defines it this way, but many do, so it is always good to have the definitions clarified when following instructions from a teacher.
What does falsetto mean in the “old-school” definition?
The older definition of falsetto and headvoice is different. Headvoice literally meant you are singing in your chest voice but you are high enough in the range to where you feel the resonance shifting up to your head. This was called headvoice or “full voice in the head”.
This sensation will start happening for most males around the F#4, and most females around the C5. This is what many are actually calling mixed voice nowadays.
Whether you use a breathy or non-breathy falsetto didn’t matter, it was still called falsetto because it was a clear disconnection from full voice. This is the definition I prefer personally.
Why it’s important to ask “what does falsetto mean?”
So what does falsetto mean? It means disconnecting from your full voice – the voice you speak with.
Most singing teachers will tell you to blend into your headvoice at your “break”. When you’re told to do this, it is important to know which headvoice definition they are using. Because I’m seeing many singers entering falsetto at F#4 because their teacher said “go to headvoice”.
In order to build a strong voice, the aim is to stay in full voice when transitioning at your break area. What you transition into is actually a different resonant placement, not a different voice. The resonance should shift up into your head while you still remain in your loud speaking voice!