To measure the vocal range of your voice, you will need a vocal range chart.
A lot of singers have a wide vocal range that can span from four octaves and more.
An octave is a whole set of notes.
For example—on the piano keyboard, the octave starts from the first note and ends with the same note but higher.
This article is somewhat like a music lesson that you have probably missed in school.
I remember learning about these terms in elementary school but totally forgot about them until recently.
Now that I have recalled these lessons, I want to share a little knowledge with you, my music geek friends!
Still, I will try my best to explain it to you in the simplest way possible.
The lowest note is C2.
In the following explanation, I will show you the classifications and the notes and range each classification covers.
Soprano: C4 to A5
Mezzo-Soprano: A3 to F#5
Alto: G3 to E5
Tenor: C3 to A4
Baritone: A2 to F4
Bass: F2 to E4
If you have a guitar tuner at home, you can try to hit the highest note and lowest not possible.
The tuner will show you the notes, and you can measure the range.
Of course, that is just my way of measuring vocal range.
Take note that you must be most comfortable hitting the highs and lows.
If you feel that you are forcing yourself to hit that note, it is not counted.
Experts and professional that I assume have perfect pitch have different ways to measure vocal range, and eventually classify vocal types.
Some people are not limited to one classification only.
Some talented singers can sing a lot of octaves from bass to tenor, or alto to the soprano.
To make things simpler, the vocal range chart above is just a guide to show you the highest to lowest notes and their classifications.
It can be difficult to accurately measure your vocal range since men and women do not have the same classification of vocal ranges.
However, some talented singers can imitate and succeed in mimicking the vocal range of the opposite gender.
Plus, singing in a full voice and singing in falsetto is also different.
To measure the actual vocal range, you should probably not include a falsetto voice.
In general, women have a more extensive vocal range than men using the full voice without falsetto.
The importance of the role of vocal range in the classification of a singing voice and voice type is commonly overlooked nowadays.
There is nothing wrong with getting confused with these terminologies because some people find that classifying a voice type is insignificant with their genre of music or application.
If you are curious, the voice type refers to the specific type of singing voice that have their own identifying qualities and characteristics.
While vocal range, on the other hand, is just one of the classes of voice types.
There are other factors to consider to determine your vocal type aside from vocal range.
Here are some of the characteristics you should evaluate to find out a singer's voice type:
- Vocal Weight
- Vocal Registry
- Scientific Testing
- Speech Level
- Physical Characteristics
- Vocal Transition
- Vocal Timbre
- Vocal Tessitura
By identifying these factors, a vocal teacher can classify your singing voice and voice type.
Vocal Range Types
Vocal Range differs between male and female singers.
For women, the vocal range is divided into three categories, being a soprano, mezzo-soprano, and contralto.
For men, their voices are categorized into four groups, which are bass, baritone, tenor, and countertenor.
If you are wondering, since children have not developed their full vocal abilities and range, their voices have one category, which is called treble.
Male Vocal Range
- Countertenor (Bb2-) Eb3 to Db5 (-F#5)
- High Tenor (G#2-) C#3 to B4 (-E5)
- Tenor (G2-) C3 to Bb4 (-Eb5)
- Low Tenor (F2-) Bb2 to Ab4 (-Db5)
- High Baritone (Eb2-) Ab2 to F#4 (-B4)
- Baritone (D2-) G2 to F4 (-Bb4)
- Bass-Baritone (C2-) F2 to Eb4 (-Ab4)
- Bass (B1-) E2 to D4 (-G4)
- Low Bass (F1-) Bb1 to Ab3 (-Db4)
- Octavian (B0-) E1 D3 (-G3)
Female Vocal Range
- Sopranino (A3-) D4 to C6 (-F6)
- Soprano (F#3-) B3 to A5 (-D6)
- Mezzo-Soprano (E3-) A3 to G5 (-C6)
- Alto (D3-) G3 to F5 (-Bb5)
- Contralto (C3-) F3 to Eb5 (-Ab5)
Kids 11 and Below
- Treble (F3-) Bb3 to Ab5 (-Db6)
The range determines each of these voice types it is associated with, but as I said at the beginning of the article, some singers can range from two or more voice types.
Here is an easy way to understand and determine one’s vocal range.
If you have a piano, ideally, one with 88 keys, you can play the notes and try to vocalize. You can start with the lowest key to the highest key. The area where you can hit the notes comfortably (Tessitura) will most likely be your vocal range.
What is the Tessitura Voice Within Your Vocal Range?
The “Tessitura” is where your voice is most comfortable when singing.
It is an essential factor when trying to determine your vocal range and classification.
Let's say that you can't tell whether you are bass or a baritone, because you can still manage to sing notes from both ranges.
To find out what your classification is, determine the tessitura.
The notes that you are more comfortable with singing can help you classify your voice.
How to Classify a Singer Based on These Factors
Here are some additional characteristics that would help you classify a singer's voice.
Aside from vocal range, there are more factors to consider.
Knowing this information can help you understand and find your voice.
If you determine your voice type, it will be easier for you to write songs that would fit your voice and cover songs that are appropriate for your kind and range.
Singing songs in the proper range of your voice will be more effortless, and you can truly bring out the beauty and tone of your voice.
- Passaggio – It describes the area of transition between different vocal registers. It is the area where two vocal registers meet. Think of the word as a passage or passing notes.
- Tessitura – This term means an area of notes where a singer is most comfortable singing. Singing notes in your tessitura will ring out the best of your voice effortlessly.
- Vocal Range – It is the full range or spectrum of notes you can hit from lowest to highest.
- Vocal Weight – It is the lightness or heaviness of your voice quality. A light voice would be more agile, while a heavy voice is a more powerful and rich tone.
- Timbre or Tone – The timbre or voice tone is something unique with every singer. Think of your tone as your DNA. Some people are born with a great tone, while some often work hard to achieve and improve their tone. By determining your vocal range, you can develop your tone and sing in the spectrum of notes you are most comfortable with.
Vocal Registry Types
Here are some vocal registry types that some vocal teachers use to classify singers.
The vocal register is the natural tone that is unique between individuals.
It is the emanation of vibratory patterns formed by a singer's vocal cords.
Modal Voice Register
The Modal Voice Register is the standard voice when talking or singing.
The falsetto is a higher register that is about one octave above the normal voice.
This vocal register is the highest and hardest to achieve. Singers like Mariah Carey can reach whistle tones effortlessly. It takes a lot of practice to be able to achieve a whistle tone.
Vocal Fry Register
While Falsetto and Whistle are high vocal registers, vocal fry register is lowering your voice down one octave or so. It can be as challenging because singing really low is not as easy as people would think.
Defining the Different Voice Types
Now that you know the vocal ranges and other factors on how to classify one's voice. Let's define each of these voice types.
- Countertenor (E3 to E5) – The highest male singing voice range that stretches up to three octaves. Countertenor singers usually use falsetto to hit the high notes and use their modal voice for the lows.
- Tenor – The countertenor, maybe the highest male singing voice, but tenor is the highest male singing voice without falsetto. Using the normal voice, a tenor singer can sing from C3 to C5. Some might even go down to Bb2 and as high as F5.
- Baritone – This type is the midrange male vocal type. It spans from A2 to A5 and extends down to F2 and up to C5 for some singers.
- Bass – The bass is the lowest male singing voice. The range spectrum is between E2 and E4.
- Soprano – Ranging from C4 to high C6 (wow), Soprano is the highest women's vocal range.
- Mezzo-Soprano – It is considered to be the middle range for female singers. Using their modal voice, female singers can hit notes, A3 to A5, and extend it down to F3 and up to C6.
- Contralto – This female vocal range is the lowest. It starts from D3 to Bb5. A female vocalist that can sing from contralto up to C6, which is the highest for soprano, is called a Soprano Sfogato.
- Treble – Since children have higher vocal registers, they are classified as a treble. This range starts art A3 up to A5, which is similar to Mezzo-Soprano.
Some people might find determining your vocal range and voice type as insignificant.
Still, I think that it is essential, especially if you are a singer and songwriter.
If you are a singer, determining your vocal range will let you write songs that fit your vocal type.
If you can choose the right key and notes that you can sing perfectly and effortlessly.
Singing in your vocal range also brings out the best tone you can produce, and you can also play around with your vocal techniques without worrying that you would mess up.
If you need help with finding your vocal range and finding the songs that fit your voice type, you can always hire a vocal coach and take singing lessons.
Not everyone is gifted with a great tone, but it is not impossible to improve your tone with proper guidance.