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Falsetto (Italian diminutive of falso, “false”) is the vocal register occupying the frequency range just above the modal voice register and overlapping with it by approximately one octave. It is produced by the vibration of the ligamentous edges of the vocal folds, in whole or in part. Commonly cited in the context of singing, falsetto, a characteristic of phonation by both men and women, is also on speech pathology.

The falsetto voice—with its characteristic breathy, flute-like sound relatively free of overtones—is more limited than its modal counterpart in both dynamic variation and tone quality. The term falsetto is most often used in the context of singing to refer to a type of vocal phonation that enables the singer to sing notes beyond the vocal range of the normal or modal voice.

The ability to speak within the falsetto register is possible for almost all men and women. The use of such speech, however, is uncommon, and is usually employed within the context of humour, as in Monty Python’s Flying Circus sketches featuring the Pepperpots, saying “please don’t”, or the Saturday Night Live sketch “Barry Gibb Talk Show”.

Some people, however, speak frequently or entirely in the falsetto register. This behavior is identified by speech pathologists as a type of functional dysphonia. Falsetto also describes the momentary, but often repeated, artificially-raised pitch emitted by pubescent boys undergoing voice change.

Page created for T-Vox by Jennifer Kirk from various sources, including Wikipedia.