With seven different types of singing ranges, it’s important to know where you fit in. Most singers can only reach one or two octaves. Even without a substantial background in music, there are a few steps you can take to figure out where your voice lands.
Learning The Ranges
The seven singing ranges from lowest to highest are bass, baritone, tenor, countertenor, alto, mezzo-soprano, and soprano. It’s important to think of your voice as an instrument that is required to hit specific notes on demand. Range classifications were initially developed to help identify voice types for casting operas singers.
Accessing Vocal Registers
Each singing range can be divided into categories based on their register. Each register type has a distinct timbre or musical sound with a distinctive pitch and intensity. The four vocal registers are:
Whistle: Produced by high, whistling notes.
Head: The high end of your range, referring to notes that feel the most resonant in your head.
Modal: Also known as your chest voice, this is your comfortable singing range.
Fry: Produced by low creaking or croaking notes.
Understand Octaves and Pitches
Octaves are an interval between two similar notes spanning eight keys. It corresponds to standard musical scales, except it involves all of the sharps and flats in between.
Scientific pitch notation is the standard way of writing music from low to high. What most musicians deem as “Middle C” on a piano is known as C4 in pitch notation. The full extent of your vocal range will include three to four different notation numbers.
Finding Your Lowest and Highest Notes
The easiest way to identify your range is to search for a tuned instrument. If you do not have access to one, there are plenty of virtual piano apps on smartphones.
You want to locate the lowest note in your standard or modal voice. Start with finding a key that you know is higher than your typical voice and slowly work your way down the scale into a lower register.
Once you find the lowest note on the keyboard, compare it to a scientific pitch notation chart and record the key. Then see how much farther you can go without having breathy, cracking notes and document that as well.
Continue the process again to find your highest key. If you need to go into a falsetto at first to get into the range that’s okay as long as your notes aren’t cracking. See what keys you can hit comfortably, relax your voice, and then push a little further.
Classifying Your Range
With the two highest and lowest notes, you can rank your range and tessitura. Arrange them from lowest to highest, and put two parentheses around the outer keys along with a dash in the middle of the four notes. The two external pitches are your full range while the two middle represent your tessitura, or keys most comfortable to sing in a normal voice.
The pitches for each range are as following:
- Bass D2 – E4
- Baritone Gw – G4
- Tenor C3 – B4
- Countertenor G3 – C6
- Alto F3 – F5
- Mezzo G3 – A5
- Soprano B3 – G6