WHAT IS YOUR VOCAL RANGE? Learn how to increase it and discover what your Voice Type is!

Do you know what your vocal range is, how to measure it, increase it, and how to improve your singing massively? What’s your voice type? Ever wondered if you are a Tenor or a Baritone? Are you a Mezzo-Soprano or Soprano? In this article, we are going to analyze everything you must know about the essential elements of the human voice classification.

The vocal range is the set (or number) of sounds, that our voice can produce and it is usually identified as the interval between the lowest and the highest sound we can sing. It is measured counting how many octaves, tone, and semitones are between the lowest sound and the highest pitch that our vocal cords can generate. It is one of the characteristics that help us create an average classification of human voice types.

This is an approximate classification of adult Male and Female voices divided by their voice type and relative vocal ranges. Remember that since everyone has a different voice, the high and low notes may differ from a singer to another even if they have the same voice type. 

MALE VOICE TYPE VOCAL RANGE

BASS

D2 – F4

BARITONE

F2 – B4

TENOR

G2 – D5

COUNTERTENOR

G3 – B5

FEMALE VOICE TYPE VOCAL RANGE

CONTRALTO

E3 – G5

MEZZO-SOPRANO

G3 – B5

SOPRANO

B3 – E6

Of course, this doesn’t mean that, for example, all soprano singers have the same sounding voice. Other vocal characteristics help us identify and classify more precisely every single voice type. Important features like Timbre (the perceived sound quality of the voice that makes you distinguish it from another one) and Tessitura are fundamental to give us a much deeper knowledge of the voice type.

Tessitura (in English “Texture”) is an Italian musical term that describes the portion of vocal range a voice has its best-sounding timbre and vocal quality. It not only is the most comfortable area of our range but also that one that gives our voice its best identity, and the range where our voice functions at its best. If we divide Soprano singers in base of their Tessitura we can find these specific and very recognizable subcategories: Coloratura, Soubrette, Lyric, Lyric Coloratura, Spinto, Dramatic, Dramatic, Coloratura and others.

A Coloratura Soprano, with her bright and agile vocal feature, will sound completely different from a deeper sounding and warm Dramatic Soprano even though they may have a very similar vocal range. The tessitura is that portion of the vocal range where that specific voice type is more comfortable singing in. That varies from singer to singer and usually, it is approximately an interval of one octave and few tones inside our vocal range.

It is fundamental to notice that since our voice evolves with time and technique, sometimes it is difficult to identify quickly what is your real range and tessitura. Other characteristics must be taken into account when we classify a voice, such as passaggio points ( vocal break ) position, speech level, and physical characteristic. Sometimes it is very risky to classify a voice too quickly. A premature classification of a voice, especially a young voice that is still developing a good singing technique, can lead to several vocal problems and can be also frustrating if the real voice type doesn’t match the expectations of the assigned one. It happens often that young singers classified as Tenors, discover themselves as Baritones and vice versa. It is fundamental to let the voice classify itself. Starting practicing in the comfortable central part of the vocal range and thanks to the good technique let the voice discover naturally what are its vocal range limits and tessitura characteristics.

It is fundamental to know what is the interval of sounds your voice can sing to have a healthy singing life. Every voice is different and every singer must know its voice type. Singing in a range and tessitura that is not suitable to you may lead to several vocal problems such as vocal fatigue or in the worst cases, vocal damages such as nodules, polyps and so on. It is very important to know not only what the limits of our voices are, but also what our tessitura is. 

To better understand how we can healthily use our vocal range let’s divide it into:

It is the complete set of sound we can generate in optimal conditions (healthy voice) by pushing our voice to its extremes (this is very dangerous for the health of your voice, and we never recommend to do that). It is linked to physical factors such as the length of your vocal cords, structure, and flexibility of the larynx and so on.

It is the range of sounds our voice can produce, in optimal condition after proper warm-ups and with good technique, without pushing your voice too much and without losing too much voice quality at its extremes. It is the vocal range that we have during vocal practice, vocalization and that is not sustainable for a long time such as during a performance.

This coincides with your Tessitura. It is the portion of the optimal vocal range where your voice gives its best, both in tone quality and agility. It is that area where it is easier for you to maintain a good singing technique without straining too much and without losing the tonal feature of your voice type and timbre. This is the portion of your vocal range where you should sing most of the time.

Have a look at these singing methods we highly recommend!

Before you start, make sure your voice is in good health, you don’t have any cold or other problems that could mislead your singing. Also, remember to record yourself and repeat these steps monthly to check possible changes in your vocal range.

Step 1.

Warm up your voice, you can use one of our many warm-up exercises here:

Step 2.

Sing along this video we appositely created for you:

Step 3.

Take notes of very important things about your voice such as:

  • Where is your Passaggio ( Vocal Break ) such as the one between the chest and head registers etc?
  • What are the lowest and highest notes you can sing?
  • What is your falsetto range, mix voice range, chest, and head voice range?
  • What is your comfortable range (Tessitura)
  • Analyze the quality and weight of your voice, is it a light voice, bright and agile or heavy voice, dark, rich and powerful.
  • What’s the size of your voice, the amount of sound you can produce (loud or quiet) and your voice’s dramatic effect.
  • The range of your speaking voice

This, together with your age, physical features (weight, height and built) and experience, are the main element that will help you identify your vocal range and voice type.

Developed towards the end of the 19th century by German Opera Houses, the Fach System is a method of classification that can identify a specific voice type and tessitura in base on very distinguishable characteristics. The German word Fach (pronounced like Bach but with an F) was created because of the need for many casting to select a very specific voice type and singing voice for each role of an Opera. Some composers had a very clear idea of what kind of voice a certain role should have and the Fach System was a great tool to audition the perfect interpreter with the right voice. It was and still is used mostly for Opera Singers and even if it may seem very strict it still is a very interesting tool to classify more deeply every single voice.

Below is a list of the main voice types according to the Fach System.

Voice Type English Name GERMAN NAME CHARACTERISTICS

BASS

Character Bass
Charakterbass
Full, Rich, Strong
Acting Bass
Spielbass
Agile, Flexible, Rich
Heavy Acting Bass
Schwerer Spielbass
Rich, Full, Deep
Serious Bass
Seriöser Bass
Rich, Powerful, Mature

BARITONE

Dramatic Baritone
Heldenbariton
Full, Imposing, Powerful
Cavalier Baritone
Kavalierbariton
Warm, Agile, Brilliant
Lyric Baritone
Lyrischer Bariton
Flexible, Sweet, Smooth
Character Baritone
Charakterbariton
Theatrical, Powerful, Flexible

TENOR

Lyric Tenor
Lyrischer Tenor
Flexible, Warm, Soft
Dramatic Tenor
Heldentenor
Low, Full, Powerful
Character Tenor
Charaktertenor
Theatrical, Powerful, Bright
Acting Tenor
Spieltenor
Theatrical, Light, Flexible
Countertenor
Contratenor
High, Powerful, Agile

CONTRALTO

Low Contralto
Tiefer Alt
Warm, Full, Low
Dramatic Alto
Dramatischer Alt
Powerful, Metallic, Full

MEZZO-SOPRANO

Lyric Mezzo-Soprano
Lyrischer Mezzosopran / Spielalt
Flexible, Strong, Lachrymose
Dramatic Mezzo-Soprano
Dramatischer Mezzosopran
Imposing, Rich, Powerful
Coloratura Mezzo-Soprano
Koloratur-Mezzosopran
Bright, Agile, Rich

SOPRANO

Lyric Coloratura Soprano
Lyrischer Koloratursopran / Koloratursoubrette
Bright, High, Flexible
Dramatic Coloratura Soprano
Dramatischer Koloratursopran
Dark, Flexible, High
Soubrette
Deutsche Soubrette / Charaktersopran
Bright, Young, Light
Lyric Soprano
Lyrischer Sopran
Warm, Soulful, Legato
Lyric Dramatic Soprano / Spinto
Jugendlich dramatischer Sopran
Young, Powerful, Full
Full Dramatic Soprano
Dramatischer Sopran
Rich, Full, Powerful
High Dramatic Soprano
Hochdramatischer Sopran
Bright, Powerful, Stamina

For more details click here.

IS VOCAL RANGE FIXED OR CAN WE INCREASE IT?

Our larynx and vocal cords have their limitations due to the physical structure of our voice box, the length, and structure of the vocal cords and so on. It is important to notice that often we confuse discovering our limits with expanding them. Let’s take a beginner that starts for the first time a singing course and after several months he notices that his vocal range has changed due to the first improvement of a good vocal technique. Did his vocal range expand or did he just learn how to use his instrument in a better way?

A good vocal technique will help us to discover what the real features and limits of our voices are. It is also to be noted that this improvement, such as muscular coordination and elasticity will lead slowly to an overall enhancement of what our voice can do. So in a certain sense yes, with constant practice and a good singing technique our vocal range can expand as far as our larynx, vocal cords and whole voice box can allow.

Have a look at these singing methods we highly recommend!

HOW CAN YOU INCREASE YOUR VOCAL RANGE?

Read our article THE TEN BEST STEPS TO INCREASE YOUR VOCAL RANGE to discover the best ways to widen the limits of your voice with a healthy and effective method.

We hope we helped you clarify some aspects of your voice and your vocal range. In this article, you’ve also learned a bit more about voice types and tessitura. Remember to practice your voice constantly and in a healthy way. Create your daily singing routine and come back on our site as often as you need for new articles and exercises!

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