One must wonder how some singers sing the high notes so effortlessly and some singers nail the lowers notes perfectly. You might also find certain songs are much easier for you to sing and some are not. There are various factors that come into play. In this blog, we will discuss one such factor known as the vocal range.
What is a Vocal Range?
Vocal range refers to all the notes that a singer can sing. The notes include the lowest note to the highest note that a singer can sing. It is the full spectrum of notes that a singer is able to sing and the number of octaves they could reach. Different elements help in the formation of one’s vocal range. Genetics plays an important part in one’s vocal range. The structure of one’s resonance chambers, and vocal cords have a very important part in determining one’s vocal range. If an individual has larger vocal folds the lower, they will be able to sing and likewise, if an individual has a smaller vocal fold the higher they will be able to sing.
Expansion of the Vocal Range
The vocal range of an untrained singer is much more limited. An average vocal range of an untrained singer is approximately 2 octaves. Though the vocal range is heavily dependent on the structure of one’s vocal folds. Though expanding one’s vocal range is possible. Through the application of correct technique and proper vocalization and training.
Finding your Vocal Range
Before expanding your vocal range, one must find their vocal range. There are different methods through which one can find their vocal range.
Method 1 to find your vocal range
- Warm up your voice : Before singing the notes out loud one must warm up their voice. Practice breathing exercises, lip trills, pitch matching, etc.
- Select an instrument : Use a piano, guitar, or keyboard. If you are not familiar with the instruments or if they are not available. Then you can download apps that have a digital piano and other instruments.
- Locate the middle C : Once you have chosen your instrument. Try to find the middle C. If you are a woman preferably start at C4 and If you are a man then choose C3. Play the note and try to sing the vowel “AH” on the note played.
- Find your lowest note :After locating the middle C. Try to sing the vowel “AH”. Gradually follow the keys downwards and proceed to sing the lower notes. While singing the note do not forget to breathe and try to hold the note for at least 3-4 seconds. Do not put unwanted pressure or strain your voice.
- Record your lowest note : Once you have reached the lowest note that you can sing comfortably. Try to sing a note lower but if it puts strain on your voice or you feel uncomfortable Do not proceed further. Write down the lowest note that you have sung.
- Find your highest voice : Repeat singing the vowel “AH”. This time gradually follow the keys upwards and proceed to sing the higher note one by one. While singing, do keep in mind to breathe properly and try to hold the note for at least 3-4 seconds. Do not put unwanted pressure or strain on your voice.
- Record your highest note : Once you have reached your highest note that you can sing comfortably. Try to sing a note higher but again just like during the lower notes if you feel stain or any kind of discomfort while singing Do not proceed further. Write down the highest note that you have sung.
- Write down your vocal range : While writing down the lowest and the highest note do not forget to mention the octave numbers. For example, E3-E5.
Method 2 to find your vocal range
If you are an absolute beginner, you might have trouble understanding your way around instruments. In that case, there are apps and websites which can help you find your vocal range. Even when you are using apps or websites do not forget to warm up your voice and keep breathing. Do not put a strain on your voice while singing.
The above methods will help you find your vocal range. The identification of your vocal range will also help in finding the number of octaves and the number of notes you can sing. Knowing about one’s vocal range can help in identifying one’s voice type.
What is Voice type
Voice type refers to the classification of voices based on one’s vocal range, vocal timbre, tessitura, vocal weight, and bridge location. There are different types of voice types: bass, baritone, tenor, countertenor, contra-alto, alto, mezzo-soprano, and soprano. in other words, a voice type is also known as a vocal type.
Classification of voice types
Bass, baritone, tenor, and countertenor are the main voice types for men. Contra-alto, alto, mezzo-soprano, and soprano are the main voice types for women.
The lowest vocal type for men is known as bass. This voice type consists of the lowest vocal range out of all the voice types. The vocal range for bass voice type is from E2-E4. While describing the vocal tone of the bass voice we can use the words like heavy and dense. Some examples of singers with bass voices are Barry White, Johnny Cash, and Borris Christoff.
The vocal range that lies between the bass and the tenor is known as the baritone. It is the most common voice type amongst men. The vocal range for baritone is from A2-A4. While describing the vocal tone of a baritone voice we can use the words like warm, smooth, and velvety. Some examples of singers who possess baritone voices are Frank Sinatra, Michael Bublé, and Hozier.
One of the more common and higher vocal types for men is known as a tenor. This voice type has a lighter vocal weight in comparison to the basses and the baritones. The vocal range for tenor is from C3-C5. While describing the vocal tone of a tenor voice we can use the words like bright, sunny, and clear. Some examples of singers with a tenor voice are Chris Martin, Sam Smith, and Justin Timberlake
The highest vocal type for men is known as a countertenor. It is one of the rarer voice types to be found. The vocal range for a countertenor is E3-E5. While describing the vocal tone of a countertenor’s voice we can use the words like light and heavenly. Some examples of singers with countertenor voices are James Bowman, Vitas, and Alfred Deller.
The lowest female voice type is known as contralto. Also, it is amongst the rarer vocal types to be found. The vocal range of a contralto is from E3-E5. While describing the vocal tone of a contralto we can use the words like as dark, husky, and deep. Some examples of singers with a contralto voice are Judy Garland, Cher, and Annie Lennox.
One of the lower voice types for women is known as Alto. The vocal range for alto is from an F3-F5. While describing the vocal tone of an alto we can use the words like heavy, strong, and smoky. Some examples of singers with an alto voice are Tracy Chapman, Lana Del Rey, and Gladys Knight.
The vocal range that lies between the alto and soprano is known as a mezzo-soprano. Vocal range for a mezzo-soprano is from A3-A5. While describing the vocal tone of a mezzo-soprano we can use the words like velvety, glowing, and fiery. Some examples of singers with a mezzo-soprano voice are Lady Gaga, Susan Graham, and Beyoncé.
The highest female voice type is known as a soprano. This voice type consists of the highest vocal range out of all voice types. The vocal range for a soprano is C4-C6. While describing the vocal tone of a soprano we can use the words like light, shimmering, and shining. Some examples of singers with a soprano voice are Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and Ariana Grande.
The usual vocal range of men is from 1.5 octaves to 2 octaves. For women, the usual vocal range is about 2-3 octaves. However, there are exceptions to this. Singers such as the legendary lead singer of the celebrated band Queen; Freddie Mercury had a 4-octave vocal range from F2 – F5, and Lead vocalist of the band Guns ‘N’ Roses Axl Rose had an impressive 6-octave vocal range from F1 – Bb6. Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston both possessed 5-octave vocal ranges. The former singer’s vocal range was from F2 – G7 and the latter singer’s vocal range was from A2 – G#5 – C#6
Benefits of finding your vocal range
Finding your vocal range not only allows you to find your voice type. Also, it helps in numerous other areas such as finding one’s weak spot while singing. For instance, you may be able to reach certain notes but they might sound screechy and unpleasant. It is because your vocal cords aren’t able to vibrate with a certain amount of strength. With regular practice and the use of correct technique, you will be able to overcome such weak spots in your singing and elevate your vocal skills. Also, knowing about your vocal range can help in selecting songs that suit your voice the best.
In conclusion, finding your vocal range can be a big milestone in one’s musical journey. At first, your vocal range might not be as expansive as you might want it to be. You can always learn and practice to expand your vocal range through proper guidance and instructions. Remember to enjoy the process and keep singing.
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