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Vocal range chart is the chart showing the range of the human vocal. The vocal range can be classified in between the highest and lowest pitches that human can produce.
High voice ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Medium voice ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Low voice
Aural Study of Vocal Ranges
There are six primary human vocal types: Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Contralto, Tenor, Baritone, and Bass. Soprano is the highest female type, while Bass is the lowest male type. In general, the average human has a vocal range of 1.5–2 octaves, while professional singers can expand it up to 4 octaves.
Every single one of us is characterised by a specific vocal range and type that defines our singing and speaking voice and sets it apart from others. While the average person’s vocal range spans about two octaves, there are some exceptional singers that can expand it up to four. Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, and Celine Dion are prime examples of this. But how can they extend their vocal range like that? Is it pure talent or hard work? In this article, we’ll cover the six main categories of vocal types, show you how to find yours, and describe the characteristics that set each one apart. So let’s get started!
These incredible vocal ranges correspond to the following:
Soprano: C4 to A5
Mezzo-soprano: A3 to F#5
Alto: G3 to E5 (and contralto as F3-D5)
Tenor: roughly C3 to A4
Baritone: A2 to F4
Bass: F2 to E4
However, in layman explanation, according to the vocal ranges chart above, the vocal range is merely the span between the highest to lowest notes.
It’s crucial to identify the vocal range correctly since the vocal range of women and men might be varied. For example, a man can have a 2 and 1 1/2 octave range in the full voice and an additional of 1 1/2 octave in falsetto. Compared to that, a woman has 2 octave and additional major 3rd on the very bottom of the incredible vocal ranges chart.
What is Vocal Range?
The role of vocal range in classifying different singing voices to voice types is considered very important. However, there are times when these 2 terms get confused with each other. The term “voice type” refers to a specific type of singing voice that has identifying characteristics or qualities.
Vocal range is considered only one of those qualities. There are many other factors included such as vocal weight, vocal registration, scientific testing, speech level, physical characteristics, vocal transition, vocal timbre, and vocal tessitura. A combination of all these factors is utilized to determine a singer’s voice, and categorize it into a specific type of voice type.
Today, vocal pedagogists use a variety of voice types in different systems of voice classification. However, many of these types are sub-types falling under 7 different main voice categories. In most cases, they are acknowledged in all major systems of voice classification.
Types of Vocal Range
A singer’s vocal range is the interval between the lowest and highest notes that they can comfortably sing without straining their voice. Their vocal type is the category into which their voice fits based on their vocal range, timbre, and quality.
For example, Selena Gomez’s vocal range spans around two octaves, from D3 to D5. But what’s her vocal type? Selena is considered a Mezzo-Soprano. Let’s see how we came to this conclusion by checking out the six most common voice types.
- Soprano: This is the highest vocal range and is most often heard by female vocalists. Sopranos can sing high notes effortlessly and clearly, normally from C4 to E6.
- Mezzo-soprano: Female vocalists may also sing in the mezzo-soprano range, which is a medium-high range. (A3- G5.)
- Alto: The term “alto” is most commonly used to describe a female vocalist with a lower vocal range (E3 to E5.) The term “countertenor” is frequently used to describe male vocalists with a similar vocal range.
- Tenor: This is the highest male vocal range and is typically used by male vocalists. (A2-A4.)
- Baritone: This is a medium-high male vocal range that is lower than tenors but higher than basses. The vocal range of a baritone is frequently compared to that of a tenor. (F2 – F4.)
- Bass: This describes the lowest male vocal range. (E2 – E4.) Bass singers can effortlessly hit the lower notes with a full, rich tone.
In each of these main categories, several sub-categories are present that serve to identify particular voice qualities such as vocal weight and coloratura facility to differentiate various types of voices.
Female Vocal Range Type
- Sopranino (A3-)D4-C6(-F6)
- Soprano (F#3-)B3-A5(-D6)
- Treble (F3-)Bb3-Ab5(-Db6) (This type of voice only applicable to kids below 11 years old, as their voices haven’t changed yet. Some vocalists classify them as Sopranos, Altos, etc…
- Mezzo-Soprano (E3-)A3-G5(-C6)
- Alto (D3-)G3-F5(-Bb5)
- Contralto (C3-)F3-Eb5(-Ab5)
- Countertenor (Bb2-)Eb3-Db5(-F#5)
- High Tenor (G#2-)C#3-B4(-E5)
- Tenor (G2-)C3-Bb4(-Eb5)
- Low Tenor (F2-)Bb2-Ab4(-Db5)
- High Baritone (Eb2-)Ab2-F#4(-B4)
- Baritone (D2-)G2-F4(-Bb4)
- Bass-Baritone (C2-)F2-Eb4(-Ab4)
- Bass (B1-)E2-D4(-G4)
- Low Bass (F1-)Bb1-Ab3(-Db4)
- Octavist (B0-)E1-D3(-G3)
Remember that these are just generalisations and that some vocalists may fall between or outside these categories. Vocal range is only one aspect in determining singing voices; timbre and quality also play important roles.
Finding The Tessitura Voice Within Your Vocal Range
Tessitura refers to where your voice is comfortable when singing. It is considered more important than the vocal range in determining the voice classification. Another more important factor is vocal timbre, described as the descriptive sound of your singing voice. As an example, a woman can have a type of vocal range that can reach the high pitch of a mezzo-soprano.
Accordingly, she can also sing the low notes of a soprano. Therefore, a voice teacher would try to determine if a singer is more comfortable singing higher or lower notes. Let’s say that you are more comfortable to sing higher notes, then, your voice teacher may classify you as a soprano.
On the other hand, if you were more comfortable singing lower notes, then, you would probably be classified as a mezzo-soprano. However, a voice teacher would not put a singer into a classification of more than 1voice type, regardless of how flexible their size of vocal range is.
You can learn more about Tessitura voice and vocal classification in this article: How to Find Your Tessitura Voice?
How to Find Your Vocal Range?
To determine your vocal range, sing the lowest note you can comfortably reach without straining your voice and take note of it.
Next, repeat the process and gradually move up the scale while taking note of the highest note you can reach before your voice starts to strain. This is your highest note.
Your vocal range is the interval between your highest and lowest notes.
Let’s check and find your vocal range using this vocal ranges chart after you have test your vocal through the video above.
Remember to warm up your voice before trying to find your vocal range so you can perform any song gospel soulfully. Vocal warm-ups help you find your vocal range by releasing tension in your throat and mouth, making it easier to nail the high and low notes and giving you better access to your entire vocal range.
You can perform vocal warm-up exercises like lip trills, humming, and vocal slides.
Check out this detailed guide on the three parts of harmony. by James Mann.
Guidelines on Classifying Singers
In general, vocal pedagogues generally make use of five key voice qualities when classifying human voice. These qualities are the vocal range, vocal weight, timbre or tone quality, tessitura, and passaggio. The correct classification of a human voice is necessary because if you misclassify a voice, chances are, you may damage the voice in the long run instead of developing that voice to full fruition. Here are the five key voice qualities for voice classifications:
- Vocal Range – is the full spectrum of notes, from the lowest to the highest, that a person’s voice can produce.
- Tessitura: Tessitura refers to the vocal range in which a singer’s voice is at its most natural and resonant. This is not to be confused with the vocal range. While vocal range refers to the whole spectrum of notes that a singer is capable of producing, Tessitura is the pitch range in which they sound most confident and natural.
- Timbre or tone quality: Timbre is the quality of sound or color of tone that sets one person’s voice apart from another. It’s what differentiates one person’s voice from another’s, even if they are singing or speaking at the same pitch and volume.
- Vocal Weight – is perceivable “lightness” or “heaviness” in the voice quality. The light voice is agiler while a heavy voice is richer and more powerful.
- Passagio: Passaggio refers to the point in a singer’s range where there is a shift in the vocal registers. You can tell if a singer has a light or heavy voice and what fach they sing in (soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, or bass) based on where the location of their passaggio.
In addition to these key voice qualities used in classifying singers, some vocal teachers consider other factors like speech level or the vocal register. The vocal register is a natural tone of the voice that emanates from vibratory patterns of the vocal cords in the larynx. There are four vocal registry types, namely:
- Vocal Fry Register – is the lowest vocal registers that a person can produce in speech or singing. This voice register is lower than the chest voice.
- Modal Voice Register – also known as the normal voice is the vocal register that people normally use in making a speech or singing.
- Falsetto Register – is a higher vocal register that lies above the modal voice. The falsetto approximately overlaps the normal vocal register by an octave likewise.
- Whistle Register – is by far the highest vocal register that can be produced and the most challenging vocal to perform. Thus, it is very rare even among professional singers. However, there are many people including the male voices who can readily do this register.
Understanding the Different Voice Types
Voice classifications originated from European classical music and developed over the years. Other similar voice classifications were also developed and introduced like the one in the choral group. Voice classifications, however, generally fall under three groups, namely: female, male, and children’s voice.
A. Understanding The Major Classifications of Female Voices
1. Soprano—The highest singing voice that lies from middle C4 to high C6. It is divided into five sub-categories according to the vocal range, timbre, weight, and voice dexterity and these subcategories are the coloratura soprano, soubrette, dramatic, spinto, and lyric soprano.
2. Mezzo-soprano—The middle-range of the female singing voice that sits between the soprano and contralto singing voice. This voice range lies between A3 to A5 but may go as low as F3 or as high as C6.
3. Contralto—The contralto is the lowest tessitura of the female singing voice with a vocal range that starts from D3 to B♭5. A contralto that can extend her voice up to C6 is called a Soprano Sfogato.
B. Understanding The Major Classifications of Male Voices
1. Countertenor—The countertenor is the highest male voices singing vocal range that stretches from E3 to E5. Countertenors usually sing their high notes in falsetto vocal registers and sing the lower notes in modal voice.
2. Tenor—This is the highest male singing voice using modal vocal registers only. The tenor voice range spans two octaves from C3 to C5 but can extend either down or up at B♭2 and F5 respectively. Like the other categories, the tenor is also subdivided into subcategories according to the voice qualities already mentioned above.
3. Baritone—This is the midrange of the male voice, and it spans A2 to A4 with an extension down to F2 of up to C5.
4. Bass—This is the lowest singing vocal range that occupies the keys between E2 to E4.
C. Understanding The Major Classifications of Children’s Voices
There are two primary types of children’s voices: treble (or soprano) and alto (or mezzo-soprano).
- Treble or soprano: This is the vocal type for young boys and girls who have not yet reached puberty (ages 5–11.) For boys, the treble voice can range from A3 to F5, while for girls, it can range from A3 to C6 or higher.
- Alto or Mezzo-soprano: Girls and boys who have voices that lie between a soprano voice and an alto with a vocal range that spans from G3 to E5.
Check out this article on famous bass opera singers by Become Singers.
Choral Music Classification
Choral music classifies voices based solely on the vocal ranges. The female voice is divided into soprano and alto; while the male voice is divided into tenor and bass as well as occasional treble for children. This can lead to misclassification in which a singer may be assigned to perform a part of the choral group that is not appropriate for his/her voice range.
Lastly, this misclassification may be harmful to the voice of a person for instead of letting the person’s voice to flourish and develop in his/her real classification, this misclassification may damage the voice of a person in the long run.
If you’ve still got questions about vocal ranges, see if these answer them:
What are the 7 major voice classifications?
These are, from low to high: bass, baritone, tenor, and countertenor, usually for males; and contralto, mezzo-soprano, and soprano, typically for females.
Who has a 9 octave vocal range?
According to the Guinness World Records, Tim Storms has the widest vocal range. He can produce notes across 10 octaves.
What is the rarest voice type in females?
When it comes to female vocal ranges, contraltos are the most unusual. This is because it has a lower range than the average female voice and a deep, rich, and powerful tone, making it more similar to that of male vocalists. Some well-known examples are Cher and Nina Simone.
What is the vocal type and range of Ariana Grande?
Ariana Grande's vocal type is a light lyric soprano. Her vocal range spans almost four octaves, from D3 to E7. She has also demonstrated her exceptional talent by singing whistle notes in her live concerts, which are really difficult to reach.
What are the 5 vocal techniques?
There are many more vocal techniques than five. These include belting, breathy singing, voice breaks, falsetto, riffing, yelling, guttural, yodeling, and many others. You should check vocal techniques according to your favorite styles.
What is the highest and the lowest note?
If you check the chart above, you’ll see the lowest note for singing is an E2 for bass singers and E6 for sopranos. However, Tim Storms can produce a G-7 which can’t be heard by humans. Wang Xiaolong achieved an E8 in 2018.
What is the difference between vocal register and vocal range?
Vocal range is the interval between the lowest and highest notes that a performer can sing without straining their voice. On the other hand, a singer's vocal register describes the unique tone or timbre of their voice while employing a specific area of their vocal range, such as chest voice, head voice, or falsetto.
The charm of the human voice, in reality, rests in the fact that no two voices are alike and can convey completely distinct emotions, which is why the six different vocal types we explored in this article really demonstrate the versatility of the human voice, as well as the uniqueness and strengths of each vocal type.
If you want to improve as a singer, you should take the time to learn about your vocal type (even if it seems overwhelming at first) so you can discover your strengths and limitations as a singer and work to improve them.
So whether you’re a professional singer or someone who’s just fascinated by the human voice, we hope that this article has answered any questions you may have had and inspired you to pursue your passion for singing and learning even further!