Which Singing Voice Type Are You?

Posted on 20th March 2014 in Vocal training, Voice lessons, Voice types

The Different Singing Voice Types

 

In an earlier discussion, we mentioned the importance of identifying which singing voice type you have. High, low, or mid range?

It’s a little more complicated than that, but we will do our best to make sense of it all as we go. It is important to note the difference between singing voice types and what is commonly known as your singing style.

Although there are many recognizable terms such as Alto, Contralto, and Baritone, and others applying to the opera world, to keep it simple we will be discussing the basic 4 in the following categories:

> Soprano: higher female voice ranges between A3 (A below middle C) to A5 (two octaves higher)

> Mezzo: lower female voice ranging between between A3 (the A below middle C) to A5 (two octaves higher)

> Tenor: higher male voice ranges between C3, the C one octave below middle C, and A4, the A above middle.

> Bass: lower male voice ranging between the second E below middle C to the E above middle C

Voice Type Factors

The fundamental elements making up the different voice types are as follows:

  • Range: All the notes a singer can hit from lowest to highest and everything in between. Newer singers have a shorter range than more advanced singers. Knowing your range will aid you in determining your voice type, simply because a bass singer can sing lower than a tenor as a soprano can sing higher than a mezzo.

 

  • Register: The range of tones that your vocal cords produce using different vibratory patterns. These four consist of the: modal voice (your normal speaking voice), vocal fry (creating pitches much lower than modal voice), falsetto (high pitch flute-like sound, for example: when a guy is trying to sing “staying alive” by the Bee Gees), and the whistle voice (highest register of the human voice, normally performed by females, think Mariah Carrey..).

 

  • Tone of Voice: Also known as the timbre. Often described as the color of your voice. Is it dark, metallic, ringing, shrill, or brilliant? Knowing your tone helps you better resolve your voice type. For example The tone of a tenor is much brighter than a bass.

 

  • Voice strength: A mezzo and tenor have a stronger middle voice (between your chest and head), whereas a soprano and mezzo have a stronger head voice (throat to the top of the head). Is it easier for to you sing deep and low or thin and high?

 

  • Age:  Most of us can tell the difference between an adult and a child’s voice. Obviously our voices change with age, particularly in boys. This effects all of these other characteristics, especially as they go through adolescence. And as we get older our vocal cords change again, causing many singers, including professionals to lower the key they normally sing in and or make other adjustments in their approach. It’s not always bad, it’s just different. But clearly age is another key factor in determining your voice type.

 

Finding Your Range

Exercise: You will need a piano or keyboard to continue. First you will need to find middle C, often referred as C4. If you are using a full-size piano, middle C will be the fifth C from the bottom. Please see the diagram below:

C4 note on the piano

Once you have located C4 or Middle C, play the note and try singing using the commonly known solfège scale: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, and back to Do.

Make your way down the keyboard, singing each note in the reverse order, until you reach the lowest note you can comfortably sing, while maintaining good tone.

You have successfully located the bottom of your range.

Now, again starting at middle C, repeat the process moving up the notes until you find the highest note you can comfortably sing.

Include your falsetto in determining the very top of your range.

*If you do not have access to a piano, the video below may be helpful:

 

Soprano: Range is normally between C4 to C6 and beyond

 Mezzo: Range is usually G3, below Middle C to B5

Tenor: Range is C3 one octave below Middle C to C5 one octave above Middle C

Bass: Range is F2, an octave and a half below Middle C to E4 above Middle C

Refer to the diagram below to locate your range:

notes on a piano

 

Continuing Your Singing Education

This article was intended to provide a basic understanding of how to identify your voice type. Improving your voice is a very achievable goal.

A more thorough description of finding and developing your singing voice is found in the course materials provided in your complete learn to sing program that you can try risk free by clicking the link provided.