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I recently discovered that some men (with normal adult male speaking voices) can imitate female singers pretty convincingly, at least to the untrained ear:

I am not sure what technique this is. In the first video, it sounds like he's singing falsetto until you get to the 0:23 mark, where I'm not clear what voice type it is. His voice sounds pretty definitively female throughout.

In the second video he isn't singing a song that is particularly high-pitched, but he still sounds like, if not actually Celine Dion, at least androgynous and not identifiably male.

So my question is, how do you do this? I have a pretty high singing voice for a man, so I can sing some popular songs written for women without dropping into falsetto at all. But whether or not I use falsetto, my voice still doesn't sound female at all even if I can match the pitch. I can imitate most male singers' voices decently well, but cannot do this at all for female singers. I can speak in a feminine / androgynous voice, but for some reason can't get my singing voice to sound like a woman's at all (at best, I can manage a somewhat androgynous falsetto).

Note: Yes I know what a countertenor is, but operatic music is a little different than regular popular music. Even if I could develop my falsetto to the point where I could do a reasonable impression of a countertenor, I'm not sure I would be able to sing a modern song and have it sound like a girl.

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    I do not believe this is a technique, it's simply the quality of their head voice. Nick Pitera in particular just has an exceptional range -- you can hear here how high he as to go before he needs to switch to falsetto. – Matthew Read Dec 1 '14 at 7:05
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I haven't had a chance to watch the second video yet, but in the first, it sounds to me like maybe a mixture of falsetto and non-falsetto (modal) voice. A full-on falsetto usually has a more "Mickey Mouse" quality to it. I think this also might have a more nasal resonance to it. Granted, I don't know much about technical vocal terminology.

But you mention that you can already produce an effeminate/androgynous sound with your speaking voice. This should provide a big benefit. In this case, I'd try working backwards: Instead of trying to make your singing voice sound like that, try making that speaking voice sound like singing.

  • Forget everything you know about singing, you're going to relearn how to sing from scratch.
  • Just speak in that voice, getting used to the way it feels for a little while. Remember, you aren't trying to sing yet.
  • Now, using that same voice, try speaking with a sing-song inflection, so your pitch slides around, up and down. Again, you aren't singing, just speaking funny. You don't need any distinct pitch, but the pitch should be sliding up and down.
    • One way you might try doing this is to imitate some type of accent: maybe a goofy Swedish Chef, or an exaggerated Irish brogue. Or just make one up: the accuracy of the accent is zero importance.
  • Now do the opposite: still using that same androgynous voice, speak with a very monotone pitch, like a robot with a bad speech synthesizer.
  • Try speaking in the same monotone, but one (musical) step higher. Or one step lower. You still aren't trying to sing, just recognizing some musical intervals.
  • Eventually you'll want to start testing your pitch against an instrument like a keyboard. Instead of trying to match your voice to a note on the keyboard, do it the other way around: speak a pitch, and try to find the match note on the keyboard.
  • Now you can start testing the range of this androgynous sing-song voice, seeing how high or low you can, using musical scales, but maintaining the androgynous speaking voice.
  • At this point, you should be ready to start some simple songs, and then work on refining the sound of the voice to sound more musical. But until you get the feeling of it, the key is to always think of it as more of a pitched speaking voice.
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To me both sound like falsetto used to great effect in combination with microphone technique. In the lower range, both use a breathy kind of falsetto with incomplete closure (which is what most people occasionally using falsetto end up with). That's good for a "husky female" variant. In their higher range, they use reinforced falsetto (with good closure, consequently non-breathy and with more harmonics) to good effect mimicking a belted female chest voice. The first singer has a somewhat fluctuating quality here and one cannot help the impression that there is considerable dynamic compression and/or overdrive in order to get a somewhat uniform volume and tonal consistency.

This kind of "husky voice" style will only work convincingly with microphones.

At any rate, that's the basic setup. That does not yet give you the "female voice" formants. You'll find that at least the second singer tends to have a rather light speaking voice and intonation going in the "boyish" and/or "non-assertive" or "easily flustered" direction. I would guess that this is the style of voice he uses most of the time, and it's helpful for navigating the "formants" question:

A voice has both a fundamental characteristic and harmonics as well as being shaped by the mouth. The shaping from the mouth is what makes vowels distinguishable, and the characteristic imprint on the harmonics from the voice box are called formants.

Females have smaller mouths and consequently higher formants, and they tend to use them in a different manner, too. For a male, that means singing from a "small mouth cavity": instead of having one funnel opening from your throat and going outward, the funnel starts later on (having a big tongue helps, but it should not be stuffed in your throat which still needs to be open), and you sing with the feeling of singing from a small mouth cavity shaped towards the front of your "real" mouth cavity.

Now mind you: this is all a bit of piecework: what works for you and your voice in forming an actual identifiable vocal character instead of a bag of tricks may very well be different.

And there is one thing you should not underestimate: if you put out a drag performance, and you have actual performing blood in you and you put reasonable effort into your makeup and practiced doing it well: then the audience will perceive you as a different character, and the audience's expectations and perceptions will do a lot towards this character taking over your performance. That's not what the singers in your videos do, but it sounds like that's what you might be considering to do with whatever you are planning.

Go for it: it really makes a large difference in the perception for both audience and yourself, helping to keep the illusion together.

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Singing is like speaking or expressing your emotions, how you felt and perceive. There's not actual regulations, nor you should force yourself to acquire such vocal tones. I myself am a guy and ever since I was young, I can sing like a girl and also like a guy. All of this are natural. There are indiviuals who can control their pitch and tone from high to low and express their tones naturally. You may say that genetics play a role, I can't say for sure. Whatever voice you have, you should be grateful for it. Remember, when you sing, your voice is like nature, the wind and the echos of life, everything that is essential and beautiful.

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