You can practice and train your voice to extend the range of sounds that you can produce, but ultimately you were born to be either a tenor or bass (for men), or soprano or alto (for women.) This classification system is also referred to as SATB for Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass.
You can usually tell what vocal range you have by the quality of your speaking voice. For example, if you are a female with a high-pitched speaking voice, you’ll probably sing as a soprano. If you are a male with a deep voice, you’re probably a bass (pronounced base).
Soprano: the highest female vocal range. Sopranos are generally able to sing from the G below middle C to the E two octaves above middle C.
Alto: the lower female vocal range. Altos are generally able to sing from the E below middle C to the B almost two octaves above middle C.
Tenor: the higher male range. Tenors are generally able to sing from the C below middle C to the G an octave and a half above middle C.
Bass: the lowest male range. Basses are generally able to sing from the E two octaves below middle C to the G above middle C.
Try this exercise. Find the low point of your range by starting on middle C and singing down to the lowest note you can. Figure out which note this is by using the SINGORAMA! Virtual Piano(you can pick this up for free when you purchase Singorama 2.0 )or a normal piano or keyboard.
You may think that you should sing the highest note you can produce to find where your vocal range lies, but it will not be accurate. For examples, altos and sopranos could sing equally as high with training. But, although you can train your vocal cords to thin to reach those higher notes, you cannot train your vocal cords to produce a lower sound. This is because the low point of your range depends on the thickness of the vocal cords. Thicker vocal cords produce a lower sound. (So men have thicker vocal cords than women.) As a result, matching the low point of your range to the classification will be more accurate than matching the high point .
These classifications give you a general idea of the range of notes that you can produce. For individuals who find that their singing voice doesn’t fit one of the four general ranges, there are additional subsets, like mezzo soprano and baritone.
Soprano highest female voice
Coloratura high, light, agile
Lyric soprano standard soprano voice
Mezzo soprano more power in the lower range than lyric soprano
Dramatic soprano wide and powerful range, quite rare
Contralto (Alto) lowest female voice, can be warm and rich or dark and heavy
Tenor highest male voice, most popular male voice
Lyric tenor “leading man” voice, includes most famous male pop singers
Dramatic tenor heavier and more resonant than lyric tenor, found
in classical music or opera
Bass (bass 2) low and heavy, powerful
Baritone (or bass 1) lighter than bass, very popular, lyric quality
Not everyone fits perfectly into one of the classifications, and that’s okay. You should never let your “official” classification range limit you! Figuring out which classification you fit into is less important than getting to work on extending and improving the range you have.
Most vocal ranges span two octaves, or 13 to 14 white notes on a piano, although perhaps only one and a half octaves of those will be able to be sung consistently with good quality and pitch. With proper practice and vocal training, however, a singer can extend his or her vocal range to three octaves or more. For example, a typical soprano should be able to sing any note from middle C to the first C above the treble clef staff (in other words, two octaves higher).
How Age Affects Your Singing Voice
You can never be too old or too young to sing! Singing is fun at any age. Children as young as 8 or 9 years old can be taught the basics of good singing, although voice training must be adjusted to avoid damaging their voices during the changes of puberty. Adults can benefit from voice training throughout their life.
The most obvious vocal changes occur during the change from childhood to adulthood, and a young male may find himself in possession of a clear, high singing voice one day and a cracking, strangely deep one the next.
A boy’s voice changes drastically during puberty. Along with the physical changes, his larynx enlarges, and his vocal cords thicken and lengthen about one centimeter, causing his voice to drop several notes. A boy in this stage of growth may feel as if he’s lost control of his voice, as it may crack or shift from deep to high without warning.
Despite the changes, there is no reason why a young person with a changing voice should not continue to keep singing, as long as the following precautions are taken:
Sing in your comfortable mid-range, or tessitura. If you find yourself straining to reach the notes (by stretching your neck, thrusting your chin out, or clenching your jaw), then stop or drop out.
Don’t try to push your range. If the range that you can sing comfortably is only six notes, so be it. This does not mean avoiding upper notes!
Use your head voice to reach the high notes. If a song has several notes that do not fit your tessitura, change the notes to suit your voice.
If you are an older singer, you may find that your voice has grown “rusty” over the years. All the more reason to start singing and loosen it up! Start slowly and build up, as you may find that singing takes more energy, dexterity, and breath than you remembered. You may benefit from breathing exercises to improve your ability to release a sustained, measured flow of air, as well as legato voice exercises to control any vocal wobbles.
Isn’t it nice to know that no matter what your age and experience there is always room for improvement! And there is always room to grow and expand your vocal performance and knowledge. Keep a look out for our next lesson as we give you the keys to fail free practice!
Another Singorama Success Story!
Glenda Lynn Rose
Austin, Texas, United States
As well as knowing which notes are covered in a certain range, wouldn’t it be good to know what style of music or what musical genre suited your voice? In Singorama 2.0 we dedicate an entire lesson to help you figure out what characteristics your voice has and what types of songs may suit your performance. Check it out today!