If you love singing, then you’ve probably noticed that every once in a while, you come across a song that just seems really difficult to sing. On the other hand, there are also songs that you can perform effortlessly. If you’re not aware of why that is, then you’ve come to the right place. Each and every single one of us has a unique voice with its own characteristics and qualities. These voices are grouped according to their weight, timbre, transition points, tessitura, and many more. Once these qualities are determined, it would be particularly easy to find your vocal range.
If this is your first time hearing these terms, don’t worry. We’re going to dissect these concepts and help you in learning how to find your vocal range.
What Is a Vocal Range?
A human voice can reach a wide variety of notes, ranging from the lowest to the highest. To put it simply, the term vocal range refers to the range of pitches that your voice can reach.
Your voice is then classified into specific types depending on your vocal range. This is most commonly applied in group singing.
By practicing group classification, composers or singers would be able to identify which people can reach certain pitches. They can then utilize this ability by associating certain roles according to their voice.
If you’ve ever heard a choir singing and noticed that the pitches of their voices differ, that’s because they are classified into different roles according to their singing range. Even then, you will also notice that the sound that they produce is still harmonious.
How to Find Your Vocal Range
This brings us to an important question, which classification of voice types does yours fall into?
Obviously, you can’t just pick a particular voice type without the proper process of determining your category. Don’t worry; we’re here to teach you how to find your vocal range.
1. Notes Familiarity
Vocal range is about your voice pitch. Not everyone has the same lowest and highest note that they can reach, which means that not everyone has the same vocal range. Before looking at voice classification and determining your vocal range, we have to be familiar with quite a few notes first.
Keyboard Octave Numbers
Finding your vocal range would definitely be confusing if we start talking about notes like “the third B above the middle C.”
That being said, the most common technique used in vocal range classification is through the use of a keyboard. Keyboards have an octave number listed on a specific scale. For example, A1 means the very first note on the left of a standard keyboard. On the other hand, C8 is the last note on the right of a standard keyboard.
The C Notes
In classifying voice types, scales would often start with the C followed by D, E, F, G, A, and B.
C1 is the lowest note used in voice classification, while C8 is the highest note. More often than not, the human voice would range from C2 up to C6. This means that a voice that can reach C3 to C4 can also reach D3, E3, F3, G3, A3, and B3.
2. Voice Types
As mentioned above, a human voice can reach a wide variety of pitches, and that’s how we’re going to determine your vocal range. Once you do, you might want to try singing acapella songs with your group, which is one way to practice your skills.
Male Voice Types
When discussing male voice types, this does not mean that these voices are only heard in men. Rather, this means that the qualities that are found in these voice types are often descriptive of male voices. Below, we'll discuss the common voice types for males and females.
The bass is the lowest voice type there is. To be classified as a bass singer, you must be able to hit the notes between E2 and E4. However, some bass singers, especially professionals and those who have had training, can reach notes from C2 to G4.
After the bass is the second-lowest range when it comes to singing, which is the baritone. Baritones are between bass and tenor because it is literally the voice type that connects the two. Notes from the baritone range overlap the bass notes and the tenor notes. A common range for baritones is from A2 to A4.
The tenor is the highest singing voice when it comes to male vocal types. Tenors can sing comfortably between the notes C3 and C5. Aside from that, tenors are also known to be generally in great control of their head voice. Because of this, they can also reach notes that are more common in the female register.
The term countertenor is not often found in lists of vocal ranges because it is actually not an official voice type. Basically, the title countertenor is often given to singers that can reach notes far beyond the average tenor.
Female Voice Types
In much the same way as the male voice types, female voice types do not mean that only females can be classified into these categories. It also does not mean that these are the only voice types that females can be categorized in. Generally speaking, this means that these are the higher voice types that are often found in females.
The female counterpart of the bass is the alto. This is the lowest voice type in female classification.
An alto can typically reach notes between F3 and F5, but there are altos that can reach high notes above F5. Through practice, altos can learn to open up their vocal cords such that they can sing higher notes. Altos often have a range that is quite similar to mezzo-soprano. However, one main difference is that altos’ voices are richer when it comes to singing lower notes.
Pretty much like the countertenor, the contralto is not officially a vocal type. Rather, it is a title that is given to altos that can reach far below into the male register. Contraltos can sing notes that are in the same range as tenors.
The mezzo-soprano is a female voice type that is the middle range of altos and sopranos. Just like the baritone, the range of mezzo-sopranos overlaps the notes between alto and soprano. This is along the notes of A3 to A5.
In group singing, mezzo-sopranos often sing the same voice part as sopranos, as well, which means that they sing in the same notes and range as the soprano. This is until the altos, mezzo-sopranos, and sopranos, arrive at a three-way split in the song.
Lastly, the highest voice range is called soprano. Sopranos can sing comfortably between the notes of C4 and C6.
How to Sing Better
Whatever vocal range classification you fall into, it’s important that you play your voice’s role properly.
There are many tips you can follow on how to become a better singer, and some of these tips are specific to a particular vocal range. However, two breathing techniques are always important. No matter what your voice’s role is, always remember to practice singing from your diaphragm, and the hiss exhales technique.
Below we show you how to do these specific breathing exercises, but you can also find other breathing exercises elsewhere on this site. In addition, you may want to check out some vocal exercises as well.
Singing from the Diaphragm
To avoid straining your vocal muscles, it’s important that you follow this breathing technique.
When we say sing from the diaphragm, obviously, we don’t mean that your voice would come from the diaphragm. That’s quite impossible. What this means is that when you sing, instead of breathing through your chest, you breathe through your diaphragm.
The hiss exhale is a technique used by professional singers to expand their lung capacity. Aside from that, exhaling on a hiss is also a great way to force yourself into singing from the diaphragm.
How to Do the Hissing Breath Exercise
The hissing breath exercise is a particularly easy routine that you should do every time you prepare your voice for singing. It involves just three steps done in repetition.
Step 1: Stand Up Straight
The first step is to stand up straight and make sure that your body is relaxed. This will help in making sure that nothing is causing you to sing incorrectly while also relaxing your diaphragm. In this way, you can perform the exercise the right way.
Step 2: Breathe Through the Mouth
Inhale air through your mouth. The proper way to breathe in the air is to take it into your diaphragm. This means that your shoulder should not rise. The only part of your body that should expand is your belly. Do this while counting to five.
Step 3: Exhale
Lastly, exhale the air from your body through your mouth. As you do so, you must make a hissing sound while you are counting to nine. If you keep on doing this regularly, you will gain more control over your breathing while you sing.
Your vocal range is not a limitation to what you can sing but, rather, a guide to maximizing your voice’s capabilities. This also does not mean that you can only belong to a single voice type. You can be a baritone singer and also be a bass singer. The key is finding your range and then learning how to control your voice in order to create beautiful tones.