Understanding Mix

I have run into this phrase quite a lot: “I don’t understand mix” or “I don’t understand how to mix”.

This makes me think the student regards mix as something one does rather than something that is created as a response in the vocal mechanism. It implies that the student can “think” the voice into a mix. This also goes along with the statement: “I don’t know how to mix” which I also hear frequently. My reply to this is: “How do you speak?” Mix is speech (in most people, not all). The implication is that mix is model register (chest) and that we speak there. The problems arise when the chest register is weak or inactive, or the speaker is a head-dominant speaker (not so unusual as you might think), or when the speaking voice doesn’t go up very high because there is pronounced break at a certain pitch.

In dealing with mix, you need to have both registers present. Taking a light speech sound higher isn’t so hard, especially if you allow the sound to go towards head as it rises (chesty/mix to heady/mix with no break). If you want to take a heavier quality up, you have to do more work both on strength at the bottom of the range and on flexibility of the tongue and jaw, and on the coordination of the body in terms of the ribs and abs. True mix goes to chest when it is louder and head when it is softer, on any middle pitches, without disturbing the vowel. Mix that doesn’t go to head smoothly, on the way up the scale, isn’t mix. The purpose of Somatic Voicework™ is to create this response in the voice. It’s the teacher’s job, not the student’s. The student shouldn’t be trying to “understand” mix, but should be discovering it and using it as it arises.

If mix doesn’t happen, go back to register isolation and development and spend more time there. Watch the main break for changes and adjustments and keep tabs on the speaking quality as the bridge.

If it doesn’t work, something else is stuck………..another discussion!

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