Episode 45 – Balance the Female and Male parts of your voice!
Updated: Sep 13, 2022
This was huge for me and when I finally got it my voice changed almost over night.
I know we think about this in life, however, it never occurred to me with my voice until one day on a walk as I was reflecting on why my singing was so difficult and what I was doing to help it be difficult.
If your voice is not balanced in this way it will be very challenging to reach your potential as you’ll always be run by your programming and what you think you should sound like.
When we open to this kind of balance with our voices things that once seemed impossible to sing become possible and we often times find a whole new love for our voice and lots of new songs!
Listen and enjoy!
The Inner Singer Podcast
Episode 45 – Transcripts
Balance the Female and Male parts of your voice!
Wow! I said “45” kind of funny that time, didn’t I? Even I am surprised, that many episodes.
Hey there! This is Mike Goodrich. Thanks so much for tuning in to The Inner Singer Podcast episode 45! My gosh, that’s almost a year. Anyway, I appreciate you joining me. I’m still having a blast doing these. Although, I swear, every week, it’s like I think, “I don’t know what I’m going to talk about. I have no idea.” And yet, all of a sudden, bang, an idea just hit me. Thankfully, they usually do—sometimes a few ideas and I can manage to knock out a few—but sometimes, just a last minute idea.
Anyway, that’s kind of what I want to share with you today. I can’t believe I haven’t thought of this before because this was so important to my development as a singer. And it was so hugely inner singer—even though at the time, I didn’t call it that, and I didn’t necessarily know.
But I’ll give you little background before I kind of jump into exactly what I am talking about so this will make sense. I think I have mentioned in the past that I wanted to be an opera singer, a real dramatic tenor, big voice tenor— “Heroic tenor,” they call them. I loved the music. I still do. And that’s really what I thought I wanted to do.
Now, I don’t ultimately now think that I would have enjoyed that. I would enjoy singing that music and in expressing myself that way with the passion, what-have-you, but I don’t think I would have enjoyed the lifestyle at all. But anyway, that’s neither here nor there.
The point is back in those days when I was in my twenties, I was singing hard. And I was really, really pushing. Now, I didn’t so much know I was pushing, but I was pushing. I could sing loud and louder at the time. I was really into the big voice tenors.
And it’s funny. Because of the way that I was wired at the time and because of what I wanted to sing, I didn’t hear a lot of things in these voices that I hear now. And unfortunately, the things that I didn’t hear in their voice, in their voices, were actually precisely what I needed in mine. But isn’t that interesting, that I actually couldn’t hear it in their voices? To me, it wasn’t there.
And what I’m talking about is as follows. We have—obviously, men and women—a masculine and a feminine side. We have our dominant side, and then we have our complementary side.
And let’s just say, my dominant, for the sake of argument—so since my name is Mike, and I’m a man, and I’m married, let’s just say that my dominant side is the male and that my complementary side is the female.
So, what I didn’t get years ago—that finally when I got, my voice completely shifted not overnight, but fast—was that the voice needs both of those components.
Now, nobody had ever really said that to me before. I’m not sure I would have understood it, I’m not sure I would have believed it because I was pretty headstrong and I was pretty much of the mind. “I think no. I can do this. I really wouldn’t love this this much if I wasn’t meant to do it.” Now, that’s fantasy. That’s really not hugely based in any kind of reality. But that’s where I was. That’s fine. It makes me really understanding to people who are in that same place because I certainly was. But let’s just look at that for a second.
In my voice, I wanted the rich, resonant, bottom [vocalizing] sound through the entire voice. And that’s what I heard in these tenors that I loved—Franco Corelli, Mario Del Monaco and even Pavarotti and Domingo and these guys back then. That’s what I heard. The dominant sound I heard in their entire voice was this chesty [vocalizing] throughout the entire thing, even their high notes. And I had no clue how to actually do that.
Now, unfortunately, what I wasn’t hearing—and it’s funny to me that I didn’t hear it, but I didn’t until I finally did—is I didn’t hear the overtones in the voice.
I did not hear in these big, heroic tenor voices. I did not hear the balance of the feminine side of the voice. I only heard what I attributed to this macho, male, strong [vocalizing], “That’s what I want to do. That’s how I want to sing” all the time.
But I didn’t hear this [humming]. I didn’t hear that sound. I didn’t hear that quality in any part of their voice. And now, mind you, it was there. It was hugely there. And it was there on their loudest, chestiest sounding, ringing high notes. It’s still there.
And now, I can hear it as plain as day, but I couldn’t hear it back then. And I was having nothing but trouble learning how to sing because I was so bottom-heavy or unbalanced, and I was so in my distorted masculinity, or my distorted male.
Now, I stress the word distorted because it wasn’t balanced, it was distorted. It wasn’t balanced like the singers that I admired. Mine was a distorted, phony, macho, silly, caricature-y [vocalizing] thing just like that. I just wanted to sing like that all the time. So I was completely asleep to anything else in the voice.
And I was not only asleep to it. I was repelled by music that actually required that form of artistry.
So, if I heard a Mozart aria or a Donizetti or Rossini or any kind of an art song that required the [vocalizing], the floaty, falsetto-y—but not falsetto, it’s head voice. It’s a falsetto-y-like quality. It’s very heady, [vocalizing]. It’s not [vocalizing]. It’s not that at all.
So, I would reject that kind of music as, “Nah, I don’t want to sound like that. Nah, no. I want to sound like [vocalizing],” this is kind of nonsense.
So, anyway, that’s what I was doing—consciously, unconsciously—based on my wiring.
And I remember like it was yesterday—and this was like 30 years ago probably by now or 25 years ago. I don’t know. I was walking around the block at my parents’ house up in Northern California (which was then my parents’ house, where I grew up). It was nighttime and I was walking around the block, thinking about my voice—as I did a lot. It was usually, “Gosh, I wonder why I can’t do this.”
And I was thinking about my voice. And then I was thinking about this work that I was doing with this gal who was a really good friend of mine, kind of a mentor. And she was working with me kind of like a life coach. She called herself a “life engineer” back then, which I think is really, really cool. There are a bunch of life coaches these days. And she and her husband would go—he worked for GE. She and her husband would go to a party or something that they’d be—they weren’t partiers, but they were forced to go. Somebody would ask her what she did, and she’s like, “I’m a life engineer.” She totally coined that phrase way before there were any life coaches or anything. I look back at that and think that’s really innovative and cool.
But anyway, that’s the capacity she was working with me. And we were working on this idea of the masculine and the feminine and the balancing act of those two and what real masculinity is—she was really helping me—what real masculinity is, what real femininity is, what real male is, what real female is, not the distorted versions of those that we get presented with in the media and that we see all the time and we try and live up to, not the distorted versions of the male, the female and what have you.
That’s, of course, what I was living out in my voice, the distorted version of that male, this ridiculously strong-all-the-time, no-feeling, all that kind of stuff. And that’s what was coming out in my voice. And that’s why my voice wasn’t working so well.
And so, I’m walking around the block. And I don’t know why, but I had just started working with another vocal teacher—a guy that I just loved—John Hudnall.
He’s probably long gone, but he’s the guy who I really credit as really, really taught me what singing is. He really taught me what singing is. I went in yelling and came out singing. And he was a dear guy.
So I’m walking around, and he was making me sing these things that—ugh, I was so awful at them. He was making me listen to Fritz Wunderlich who I love but who was driving me nuts back then because he’s singing this German Lieder, and I was awful at it. I had this loud voice, and German Lieder is this kind of [vocalizing]. His was very light, lilty. I never got good at that, by the way. You could probably just hear it. But it’s that kind of thing.
But I’ll tell you, the inclusion of that in my voice—even though it was abyssmal, the way I was doing it—started making sense to me. And I was thinking about my voice. I was thinking, “Why is this so hard? What is that sound that I’ve rejected for so long?” And it hit me, it’s like, “Oh, my gosh! That is the feminine side of my voice.”
I’m used to singing [vocalizing], all this phoniness and everything. And all of a sudden, I hear Wunderlich, [vocalizing] I’m thinking, “What in the world is that and why can’t I do it?” Because when I did it, it came out [vocalizing]. I pushed and squeezed. And he’s going [vocalizing]. There was no floatiness to it. I just couldn’t do it, right?
But my attempts to do it started getting slightly better and slightly better. And when this hit me, that “Oh my gosh!” that is including—as I’m beginning to do in my life—including the authentic feminine side of me or female side of me. That’s taking the next step and including that in my voice and in my singing. “Wow! That will revolutionize my voice.”
And it totally did. I went from not being able to make it through a song to a major shift in my mindset, in my wiring, in my conditioning, in my programming as I accepted this aspect of myself and my voice—hugely important that I began to accept it vocally.
Then I went back and I listened to these amazing singers that I loved. I listened to Mario Del Monaco up on a high B-flat at the end of an Aria Otello. And all I ever heard was this lion roaring on this big B-flat, holding it for days! And all of a sudden now, within the roar of that sound, I’m hearing this [vocalizing] really prevalent overtone that I think, “Oh my God! How did I never, ever hear that?” That is sustaining the frequency for him. That is the whole thing. He is just adding enough of this [vocalizing] to give him the quality that he wants and the bite.
But the major component in that note is this thing that I’ve missed and never even heard.
Well, I became totally determined to develop this part of my voice. And hereas, I had avoided it in the past, I gravitated towards singers like that that can really, really do this.
And I was listening to everybody. I was listening to German Lieder singers, art song singers. I was listening to Mandy Patinkin. I was listening to any musical theatre singer I could find that had that quality—finally, ultimately, Colm Wilkinson, listening to Bring Him Home from Les Mis.
Everything just started shifting in my life as my focus went from trying to make these over-sound, resonant, phony tones to incorporating this major aspect of my voice that I totally neglected.
Now, I know I’m a guy, and I’m talking about this, and so maybe the guys out there, the men out there are thinking, “Wow, I can totally relate to this,” and maybe there are you women out there thinking, “I don’t know what the heck this guy is talking about.” But let me flip it over a little bit and share some observations that I’ve had over many, many years.
Now, this may not be appropriate for you. This may not ring true or resonate with you, but try it on and see if it does.
Music has changed for women over the years so much. Back in the classical days, obviously, women would sing in their head voice—and that would be the dominant thing, right? Sopranos, Mezzos, Contraltos, the dominant thing would be their head voice sound.
For you women that know Julie Andrews, think of “the hills are alive with the sound of music.” Think of that sound for an opera singer. It was pretty much all that.
And then pop singing and jazz singing and modern musical theatre and what-have-you started happening. And then, women began to be required to sing more like men.
And what I mean by that is, women, when you’re singing—now, I don’t have a piano in front of me. But imagine if you can all think of middle C on a piano—if you’re familiar with that at all, this will make sense. And I’ll be real brief with this—middle C on a piano. That is really in the chest voice of a woman. That’s pretty much down in the chest voice of a woman, but it’s approaching the first bridge of a man, same note.
Now, as we walk up a third—we go from C, D, E—now we’re actually in what in classical music for the man is called the “passaggio.” We call it a “bridge,” a “transition,” whatever. Now, we are now leaving the chest and going into the middle register or the mix.
So, not to be confusing, you women singing the exact same notes, most of you are still going to be in your chest, although you will begin to experience a little bit of a lift in the resonance perhaps at that E, F, F-sharp, even if it’s not a bridge.
Now, if you’re a Mezzo or a Contralto, then you’re going to have more of a bridge at a lower point like that. But if you’re a Soprano, then you’re going to have your bridge somewhere probably between G and B-flat, above that.
Now, that is where the second bridge of a man is.
There may have been a bad edit there. Sorry about that. I had to cough. I didn’t want to do it in the microphone.
But that is where the second bridge of the man is—at this A-flat, A, B-flat, above middle C. And that’s generally thought of as the first bridge of a woman. These are sweeping generalizations.
But anyway, a woman now who is singing strong, chesty quality notes in that—now, I don’t mean pulling their chest voice up. I mean singing their mix. I don’t mean singing in high in chest. They take their chest voice up until they transition through that bridge into the mix, so that A, B-flat, B-natural, C, they’re in their mix. But it’s a really, really strong sound. If you listen to the last podcast where I played Sutton Foster, you’ll hear what I mean.
So, this is when women were being asked to sing like men, really like operatic tenors. And their voices would function very, very similarly. You listen to Luciano Pavarotti sing a B-flat or a B-natural above middle C, and you listen to a woman belting that note. And when they dial in the resonance and they got the proper vowel, and they’re doing it correctly, it’s the same thing. It’s really the same kind of thing going on.
So now, all of a sudden, women who are used to transitioning into their head voice down at that E that I was talking about are now maintaining strength in their chest up to a strong mix which sounds like their chest voice all the way to the C above middle C, up to the E and the F, and the G and the A-flat above that.
So, that’s for pop and R&B and gospel and musical theatre. So, that is a completely different thing.
So, what I experienced with women for years—and have for years and years and years—is a very interesting phenomenon that I was going to elaborate on. This really deserves a chapter in a book or something. And, certainly, it may someday. See if it resonates with you at all.
What I noticed was these women would come in now, and they would be used to singing like men because that was the music. That was the music that they really liked. That was the roles that were out there, and these are the things that are being written.
And so now, unless somebody was singing opera, there wasn’t a lot of the head voice being used. There’s a lot of this chesty, mixy, strong, belty stuff going on.
And when I would introduce this idea of head voice to these women and get them to experience what it feels like and sing some of that music through the health of their voice—it’s not that I was trying to push them in a different direction. And many of them would bring in musical theatre songs, beautiful musical theatre songs that they wanted to learn how to sing, but they had never experienced that part of themselves.
I saw in reverse what I had experienced myself. I just wanted to sing with this [vocalization] macho kind of thing. And now, these women that I had been working with who had been singing like men—and like I say, when I say this, it’s not a judgment. It’s great! I love that kind of music. I teach women how to do that. It’s phenomenal to me. I adore that kind of stuff. It’s awesome! So, it’s not with any judgment. This is an observation.
But I would get these women into their head voice, maybe singing something from Phantom or The Mystery of Edwin Drood or Nine or whatever. And you could tell almost universally that that sound, that feeling of femininity and power with that Soprano voice was very foreign to them.
And it was unsettling sometimes, disorienting. They immediately would say, “Oh, that sounds ugly… that sounds this… that sounds that…” I would say, “Actually, it sounds glorious. It sounds beautiful. It’s a completely different aspect of yourself that you’re just not used to. But if you embrace it, not only is it going to benefit you, but it’s going to work amazing magic in your voice as well, because your voice is now going to be really, really balanced instead of one-sided.”
And I really saw first-hand how this really, really messed with a lot of women. It was really interesting to watch. It was fun to work through it with them because I’d gone through my version of that. I had had to accept that part of myself. And that was weird to me. But now, I’m working with these women who are now accepting this powerful, feminine sound in their voice where they’re not singing like a man, and they’re not belting it out, but they’re singing with this gorgeous, kind of Julie Andrews thing.
And it was really interesting to watch the shifts as they began to accept that part of themselves and how it worked its way into their life and into their voice. It was amazing to watch.
So, I share that with you just because it may resonate with you. So, hopefully, what I’ve said will resonate with a lot of you men and a lot of you women, and you’ll be able to take something away from this if nothing other than to say, “You know what? I really need to sing with a balanced voice. And that means addressing all aspects of my sound, the masculine [vocalizing] and the feminine [vocalizing] and everything together.”
The strongest note in the world sung with the most ringing, belty resonance—whether you’re a woman belting up on an E-flat, or a Tenor singing a high C—the most dramatic, strong, powerful, ringing resonant notes, if they don’t have the balance of the overtones and that beautiful heady quality sustaining for them, it’s not the same sound. It’s a dead sound.
The sounds that are buoyant, alive and vibrant are well rounded and have every bit of the voice in there, the masculine and the feminine. Every bit of it is in there.
So, anyway, I hope you have some good takeaways from this. Play around with that. Start listening with new ears. Incorporate this into your voice if you have it. And you will be amazed and delighted. Thanks so much for listening, and I’ll see you next week. Bye, bye.