Let’s talk about voice classification and voice types.
Many new singers wonder where their voices fall in terms of voice classification.
I noticed that “What is my voice type?” is a common question found in singers’ forums.
I also noticed that another question pops up in singers’ forums quite frequently: “What is my vocal range?”
I knew that singers are searching for information about their vocal range and voice types.
Therefore a long time ago, I made a short YouTube video, called “What Is My Vocal Range?”.
It is a simple test that takes singers through several octaves to find out their vocal range.
It was one of my very first videos, before I had any recording equipment or knew how to make a good YouTube video. I blush every time I see this video because it has a poor audio quality.
However, this video is one of the most popular videos on the platform that answers that question. It is obvious that many singers want to know what their vocal range is.
Here is the video for you to check out (but please do not laugh too hard – we all had to start somehow and somewhere).
I made this video because I really believe that knowing where your voice sits and knowing your total and most comfortable ranges are very important pieces of information.
However, many of the singers taking this test, leave the same question over and over again in the comments section under the YouTube video: “What does it make me?”
I did not realize that singers take the simple vocal range test for the wrong reasons: they assume that knowing one’s vocal range will help them determine their voice type.
Voice type and voice classification is more complex than knowing the lowest and highest notes you can sing.
It is usualy a process that takes time and it also takes knowing your instrument and your capabilities.
(It took me several months to figure out what my voice type was. I was suprised to learn that I was soprano because my speaking voice sits relatively low. And this discovery did not happen in one day – it was a process. I was also taken back by this discovery because I really admire singers with low voices. But it is what it is and I do my best with what I have.)
So what did I do?
I created another video (much later), in which I explained that voice classification is not a simple formula with only one variable – vocal range.
Here is the video, if you are wondering what my answer is to the question: “What does my vocal range make me?”
Link to this video: https://youtu.be/4IaCLZb7Wwg
Sooner or later, every singer will learn what type of voice he or she possesses. The question is how useful this information is to you and how you can or want to use it.
I am sure that you have heard the terms soprano, alto, tenor and bass (SATB).
Do you know where your voice fits?
This voice classification was developed in regards to classical singing (operatic voices).
When classifying voice in this way, not only vocal range and pitch abilities are considered but also passagio (the point where your vocal quality changes from one register to another), voice quality (timbre) and most comfortable range (tessitura). There are some additional considerations when classifying voices but for the purpose of this blog post, we don’t need to go into such details.
When these terms are used for non-classical singing voices, they are used more loosely.
As a matter of fact, this classification is not very important when you sing in music genres other than opera. The ability to transpose a piece of music to fit your vocal capabilities is an advantage of non-classical music genres.
Men can sing songs that were originally performed by high female voices and vice versa. So don’t get obsessed about a particular voice type. Find songs that fit your personality and current capabilities. No need to use voice classification as the leading factor when chosing a song.
As your singing technique develops, your voice range will change – you develop a wider range and a better voice quality.
So when you read through the following information, keep in mind that the type of repertoire you want to sing does not depend on your voice type.
Here is a simple breakdown of different types of singing voices:
Female voices are soprano, mezzo soprano and alto.
Soprano voice classification
Typical soprano range: C4 – C6
Comfortable range: G4 – G5
Passagio: D5 flat – G5 flat
Strength: strong head voice
Soprano singers (click on the name to see a YouTube video): Mariah Carey, Julie Andrews, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Doris Day, Dolly Parton, Jackie Evancho, Diana Ross, Idina Menzel and many more
Typical mezzo soprano range: A3 – A5
Comfortable range: F4 – F5
Passagio: C5 – F5
Strength: strong middle voice
Mezzo soprano singers (click on the name to see a YouTube video): Beyonce, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Susan Boyle, Sheryl Crow, Serena Ryder, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin and many more
Typical alto range: G3 – G5
Comfortable range: E4 flat – E5 flat
Passagio: B4 – E5
Strength: chest voice
Alto singers (click on the name to see a YouTube video): Adele, Annie Lenox, Lady Gaga, Toni Braxton, Cher, Patsy Cline, Miley Cyrus, Judy Garland, Alicia Keys, Diana Krall, Lorde, Katy Perry, Pink, Rihanna, Shakira, Tina Turner and many more
Male voices are tenor, baritone and bass:
Typical tenor range: C3 – C5
Comfortable range: F3 – F4
Passagio: C4 sharp – F4 sharp
Strength: head voice
Tenor singers (click on the name to see a YouTube video): Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Paul McCartney, Bono, Michael Jackson, Cee Lo Green, Adam Lambert, Elton John, Ed Sheeran, Sting, Phil Collins, Freddie Mercury, Bruno Mars, Usher as well as Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras and many more
Typical baritone range: G2 – A4
Comfortable range: C3 – E4
Passagio: B4 – E4
Baritone singers (click on the name to see a YouTube video): David Bowie, John Lennon, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Buble, Elvis Presley, Josh Groban, and many others
Typical bass range: E2 – E4
Comfortable range: B2 flat – B3 flat
Passagio: A3 flat – D4 flat
Strength: chest voice
Bass singer (click on the name to see a YouTube video): Barry White
Do you know where your voice fits?