I practice singing a lot and exploring my voice--not that I'm very good at it, but I hope to be.

Lately I've been focusing on my falsetto because I want to have control over it like guys like Brian Mcknight, Usher, or even (dare I say it) Bieber. For the record I'm NOT a fan of Bieber, but I have to admit he has a good falsetto.

I've practiced a lot, but I haven't been able to find that smooth falsetto sound that those guys have. I found two falsetto sounds, one is kind of nasal-ish and I can do a good rock and roll high pitch vibrato with it--though it is not using my nasal cavity because if I cover my nose, I can still make the falsetto without any problem. The other falsetto voice I found is clearer and higher sounding than the nasal-ish one.

Both of them are falsetto's, just different in some way at the back of my throat. However, neither of them really give that smooth Usher or Brian Mcknight falsetto. Am I stuck with this rock n' rollish falsetto or is it possible that I can find/practice a falsetto that sounds like there's?

(Please don't give me any answers involving race.)

2 Answers 2


In case anybody else reads this question. I just wanted to let you know, the answer is YES!!!! I JUST found it!!!! Wow, this is a damn good feeling. I've been looking for that specific falsetto voice for so long and I've always wondered if it was genetic or anybody could learn it. So far I've discovered a few variations of the falsetto and a lot of it has to do with the throat (at least how it seems to feel for me). There is a kind of rock falsetto I can do that I described as nasally. There is a kind of pure falsetto that I can do that kind of reminds me of the falsetto intro to Celin Dion's "I will always love you". And there is the smooth Justin Timberlake and Brian Mcknight falsetto. Of course it's a little bit different, but I can definitely hear it and I recorded my self just to confirm. I'm amazed.

If you're also looking to find it, you have to play around a lot with your falsetto, but know this... YOU WILL FIND IT! It is NOT genetics, it is just practice.

As for the technique, I am still getting the muscle memory down so I can't really describe it accurately as I can't do it on command yet--takes me a while to find it again. But the jist of it seems like it's an inbetween voice between the rock voice and the clean voice. Also the throat must be really clear and open. The special adjustment that made me do it was in the throat. Hope this helps for anybody else looking to find this voice!

P.S. I also wanted to clarify, I started learning to sing when I was a teen and I was not particularly talented at this. Ok, I was really horrible. But, I am MUCH better and it just goes to show that anybody can do it if I did it. #Justsayin

  • Voice teachers will tell you that "special adjustment that made me do it was in the throat" sounds fishy: basically for a good singing voice, the feeling is to have a direct connection between diaphragm and your "mask", with the throat being wide open. Of course, that is not really what happens physically, but if you find yourself doing anything with your throat, chances are that you are constricting it. The larynx should stay relaxed and down (you can check by letting a finger rest there).
    – User8773
    Commented Jan 1, 2014 at 16:29
  • That's the best description I can give. I have been looking so long for this voice. I have watched countless Youtube videos about falsetto and nothing seemed to bring me to discover this voice. Voice teachers can say what they want, I've had one before (maybe not a great one), but all they did was bring me through vocal exercises--which I normally do on my own anyways. Not everybody is the same, but it is what it is. There is some kind of adjustment to my throat that made me find the smooth falsetto Brian Mcknight style voice I was looking for.
    – Klik
    Commented Jan 1, 2014 at 17:53
  • Of course, to each his own. I've tried the finger on the larynx thing before, but it did not seem to help me personally find the quality of falsetto I was looking for.
    – Klik
    Commented Jan 1, 2014 at 18:04
  • Uh, the finger on throat thing is not going to produce a "quality of falsetto". It's just a check that helps with maintaining a consistent vowel quality and projection. When your larynx bounces around, the sound quality goes all over the place for the listener. When it's forced high, the sound quality is strained and unpleasant. It's similar to hearing an oboe reed sound through the oboe, or sound without it. There is no single "trick" to get a great sound from the voice, like there is no single trick to get a great sound from a violin.
    – User8773
    Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 19:17

It's possible that you may need to reapproach this question. You see, the playing field here is uneven. I don't know about Brian McKnight, but I can guarantee you that Justin Bieber and Usher have at least one leg up on you: The leg of technology and studio production.

Ever listened to some random singer in person and heard them switch into falsetto? Often times, if that singer is a man, you may find yourself thinking, "Wait a minute, that voice just got softer, but also a lot quieter". Especially for male singers singing in a fairly high range in their chest voice switching into the low-to-middle falsetto register, you might notice a significant volume drop.

Falsetto is quieter than chest voice, most of the time. Sure, the rare singer emerges who can deceive even fellow singers as to the register in which they're singing, but for the average guy, it's not as subtle of a shift.

So, the question is, how do the pros sound so smooth and connected and flawless? Are Usher and Bieber some kind of falsetto deities? And the answer to that, my friend, is no.

I'm not saying that they're not good singers; they've got to have at least some singing ability to have become so famous in the first place. I'm just saying that the whole recording industry is doing their best to make these guys sound good. For example, blending one's falsetto and chest voice is something that even professional singers struggle with (well, usually the men, anyway). Listen to male Broadway singers: there's usually a marked difference between the falsetto and chest voice, and those guys sing for a living live on stage with little to no studio trickery and usually no released album to point to as proof of their vocal skill. It's not as though the volume drop is because they're bad singers.

My somewhat educated guess is that one thing that studios do to recordings is to boost the volume of any notes in falsetto. That goes a long way in disguising the switch, since the only difference would be the timbre. Studios have access to the ability to change timbre in post (postproduction), but I'm not sure whether that's actual industry practice. I kind of doubt that. Plus, Autotune. I don't mean to jump on the "pitch-correction sucks" bandwagon, but falsetto is also a lot harder to control than the chest voice, and when you don't need to be as specialised or have as highly-developed of a falsetto to use it in a song, it's a lot easier.

(Here's the answer to your question as presented)

That doesn't mean that you need to use technology to "cheat" your way to a smooth falsetto. My best advice for that would be practice changing the timbre of your voice. You said that you can do the rock-style falsetto, right? Well, it's not really any harder to get the falsetto to sound less piercing. When you yawn, do you use falsetto? Some people do, and if you can sort of make that sound, that's pretty much the way you want to be making that more "classical", smoother falsetto. Once you get it, you should be able to change between the two falsettos very easily, as they're on opposite ends of a spectrum. The "whinier" one feels "closed", and the lighter one feels more "open" as you make it.

Volume will come with practice (So much of singing is practicing, it's unbelievable), but things that help are not putting big belted chest notes right before falsetto if it can be helped (few songs do that anyway, luckily), and singing higher notes than normal when in falsetto. The higher the falsetto note is, the louder it can be (usually).

(opinion part)

On the topic of Usher and Bieber: While Usher probably is indeed a very good singer with a pretty well-developed falsetto tone, I find it harder to believe the same about Justin Bieber. A former child singer in the late 2000's, Bieber was more well-known for his adoring fans than for singing talent, at least among musicians. Rarely do very popular teenage singers have the voices their albums do. Bieber, being so popular at such a young age, had a whole lot of production at his disposal in the studio, and as a performer, it likely was never a huge conern for him to develop a better voice. Not saying that he didn't try to become better, just saying that it really wouldn't have mattered that much to his audience whether he really was an amazing singer. As he matured, his more recent return to the popular music scene continued to be extremely well-produced, making me question his singing abilities behind the smoke and mirrors.

I may seem as though I'm just picking on Justin Bieber; I'm not. A lot of the same things I'm saying about production value and Justin Bieber's voice apply to just about every singer on Top 40 Radio today. Youtube videos exist of "Autotune vs. Real Voice" compilations for countless famous performers and the difference is staggering, especially in the relative lack of control displayed at live shows. If you ever get the opportunity to go see a famous singer live, and their vocals are sounding really good, try to see what sounds different from the recording, since a lot of modern singers do not really sing their songs during some live performances. This applies to just about everyone in the industry; it's simply how the industry works. That's not to say that they've all got not talent, it's just that they are not chosen specifically for having the best singing voices on the planet; it is the job of the singer and the postproduction team to create that illusion.

In a similar story, current teen singer/social media personality Jacob Sartorius is widely believed to be much, much worse than his released songs would let you believe. He really does not seem to be able to perform live anywhere near his recorded standards. In particular, his performance at the recent Teen Choice Awards (saw it on TV) did not impress me, to say the least.

Another obvious time that this is apparent is when famous actors "sing" in modern movies. One example that comes to mind is Disney's blockbuster film "Moana". Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson could not sing "You're Welcome" nearly as well as what audiences heard, I guarantee you that.

Ultimately, my point is that when singers try to compare their voices with those of contemporary pop musicians, they must take into account the fact that they are at an inherent disadvantage. Pop singers tend to be very good at certain things within the scope of singing, but no one expects them to sound as good as their songs do, and falsetto is no exception.

Keep in mind that pop singers are not reasonable standards to compare yourself to.

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