Vocal range is the range of pitches that a human voice can phonate. A common application is within the context of singing, where it is used as a defining characteristic for classifying singing voices into voice types. It is also a topic of study within linguistics, phonetics, and speech-language pathology, particularly in relation to the study of tonal languages and certain types of vocal disorders, although it has little practical application in terms of speech.
While the broadest definition of "vocal range" is simply the span from the lowest to the highest note a particular voice can produce, this broad definition is often not what is meant when "vocal range" is discussed in the context of singing. Vocal pedagogists tend to define the vocal range as the total span of "musically useful" pitches that a singer can produce. This is because some of the notes a voice can produce may not be considered usable by the singer within performance for various reasons. For example, within opera all singers must project over an orchestra without the aid of a microphone. An opera singer would therefore only be able to include the notes that they are able to adequately project over an orchestra within their vocal range. In contrast, a pop artist could include notes that could be heard with the aid of a microphone.
Vocal range plays such an important role in classifying singing voices into voice types that sometimes the two terms are confused with one another. A voice type is a particular kind of human singing voice perceived as having certain identifying qualities or characteristics; vocal range being only one of those characteristics. Other factors are vocal weight, vocal tessitura, vocal timbre, vocal transition points, physical characteristics, speech level, scientific testing, and vocal registration. All of these factors combined are used to categorize a singer's voice into a particular kind of singing voice or voice type.
Vocal range itself does not determine a singer's voice type. While each voice type does have a general vocal range associated with it, human singing voices may possess vocal ranges that encompass more than one voice type or are in between the typical ranges of two voice types. Therefore, voice teachers use vocal range as only one factor among many in classifying a singer's voice. More important than range in voice classification is tessitura, or where the voice is most comfortable singing, and vocal timbre, or the characteristic sound of the singing voice. For example, a female singer may have a vocal range that encompasses the high notes of a mezzo-soprano and the low notes of a soprano. A voice teacher would therefore look to see whether the singer was more comfortable singing higher, or lower. If she were more comfortable singing higher, then the teacher would probably classify her as a soprano. The teacher would also consider the sound of the voice; sopranos tend to have a lighter and less rich vocal sound than a mezzo-soprano. A voice teacher, however, would never classify a singer in more than one voice type, regardless of the size of the vocal range of the singer.
In the UK, the term "male alto" refers to a man who uses falsetto vocal production to sing in the alto section of a chorus. This practice is much less common outside the UK where the term countertenor is more often applied. Countertenors are also widely employed within opera as solo vocalists, though the term "male alto" is never used to refer to a solo vocalist.
There are many vocal ranges and voice types for males, and this section will discuss the 4 main types of male voices, their respective pitch ranges, unique tonal characteristics, as well as how their tessituras or most comfortable voice ranges differ from each other.
The Countertenor voice is the highest of the adult male voice types, and has a vocal range that is similar to that of the Female Contralto Voice, the lowest of the female voice types! In the Mandarin pop scene, certain singers like Jeff Chang and the lead singer of popular pop rock band Soda Green would probably qualify as countertenor voices!
Also, the Tessitura or most comfortable singing range for Countertenors lies above that of the Tenor and other adult male voices. The Countertenor voice would usually be able to sing the high head voice notes with great ease and brightness in tone, and would often be confused by many listeners with regular female voices.
The Tenor Voice is the highest of the main male vocal types that most people would be familiar with, with the typical tenor vocal range lying between the C note one octave below middle C (C3) to the C note one octave above middle C (C5)! This means that it would lie just slightly below the Countertenor voice, but has similar characteristics in the sense that the Tenor would also be able to sing most high notes with ease and vocalize the head voice notes with strength and brightness!
Most men would have a vocal range similar to that of a Baritone voice, as this is the most common of the male voice types! A typical Baritone Voice Range would be between the A flat note one octave below the middle C (A Flat 2) to the A flat note above the middle C (A Flat 4).
Understanding more about the 4 main male voice types and their vocal ranges helps us to be able to understand more about our own voice as well as which voice type we may belong to. Knowing our voice type will help us to determine the various keys or pitches with which to do our vocal warmups before we sing, so as to achieve maximum desired effect!
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While vocal ranges differ, when you bring singers of different ranges together, you can create beautiful harmonies. Within a choral environment, sopranos generally carry the melody, along with the mezzo-sopranos. Altos, tenors, and baritones usually provide harmonies, and bass voices often provide monotone, bass harmonies that support the music. All ranges are needed to create beautiful, harmonious music.
The spectrum of the human singing voice is very broad. This makes each voice unique, but also makes it difficult to manage for composers. A composer thinks of a voice mostly in three terms: its specific vocal range, its vocal timbre (that is, the colour of the voice, whether it is for instance soft or hard, woody or metallic) and its vocal weight (whether the voice is light or heavy).
Soprano: this is the highest singing voice, with the highest tessitura. It is also the most common female voice. Sopranos are given prominent singing roles, and are often the protagonists of the opera. They can sing from the middle C to two octaves higher (that is, an interval of 15 full notes in total).
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A Contralto (the lowest of the female singing voice types) and Soprano (the highest of the female singing voice types) could hit the same note but those notes would sound totally different in their depth and weight.
Hey, i need a bit of a help, im a male, 16 years old, I can sing comfortably with my falsetto from d3-a5 (sometimes i can hit a c6) but my chest voice lies on b2-e4 (i sometimes can hit a F4-G4) does falsetto count with the vocal range or not? and what would be my range??
RDA does not define the ranges of vocal types. General practice is to follow the instructions given in the Subject Cataloging Manual: Subject Headings section H 1917.5: Base vocal range on the verbal indication on the item. If no vocal range is indicated, use the ranges specified in the New Harvard Dictionary of Music:
Vocal ranges for solo or choral works may differ, as evidenced from the different ranges found in other sources.For example, see:° The Wikipedia article on vocal range, which gives different ranges for operatic works and choral works.° Catherine Schmidt-Jones' article and chart.° Grove Music Online definitions: 2b1af7f3a8