Determining Your Vocal Range and Type

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Have you ever had aspirations to be a singer? Maybe you were inspired in your childhood by your favorite singers or pop stars? Or maybe you have decided that you want to pursue music later in life? Dreams of performing on the big stage and belting out in front of thousands? Well, this article is the one for you! The first step to becoming a singer is determining your vocal range, in order to make sure that your songs and arrangements are in a key that will work best for you. Singing a song in a key that is too high or low for your vocal range can cause unnecessary strain and work against you in the long run in a performance or practice setting. Follow the steps below to make sure that you determine your vocal range and type in the proper way to make your singing experience as enjoyable as possible.

What’s Your Range?

The vocal range is determined by how low and high you are able to sing. Some vocalists have extraordinary vocal ranges such as Sarah Vaughn, who boasts an impressive 4 octave vocal range! Other notable singers with extremely large vocal ranges include Jacob Collier, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Prince, Beyonce, and many others. Vocal ranges are generally organized into 6 categories. From highest to lowest they are Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone, and Bass. In order to be considered a Soprano you must be able to comfortably sing from middle C to high C, and beyond. Mezzo-sopranos generally sing from A below middle C to A above middle C. Altos are generally the lowest female vocal range, and must reach as low as F below middle C. The highest male vocal range is the tenor, which begins at B below middle C and A above middle C and possibly higher. The middle male vocal range is the baritone, which extends from 2 G’s below middle C up to F above middle C. Finally the lowest male vocal range is called the bass, which requires the singer to sing two E’s below middle C and possibly lower. It is entirely possible for both male and female singers to utilize extended techniques, or natural ability to sing parts written for any vocal range or type. The system of vocal ranges and types is just used to create a system for arrangers and composers to create easily singable parts and ensure proper voice leading is used.

Typecasting Your Voice

Once you have found out your vocal range and type, the next step is to decide which type of genre or style you would like to sing. It is important to note that you do not need to limit yourself to a single style or genre, many singers are fluent in multiple idioms. The important consideration is that each style has its own characteristics and tendencies which must be respected and considered when performing a given genre of music. If you want to sing in the style of R n B great like Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Beyonce and great artists who perform that style then it is important to immerse yourself in that music to become familiar with the various cliches, and characteristics that each unique style of singing embodies. When learning to sing jazz you should consider listening to and immersing yourself in the music that features singers who have mastered the genre. Some modern examples include Sarah Vaughn, Brenda Earle, Aimee Claxton, Dorothy Progosh, Jacob Collier, and many others. If you are looking for a more traditional approach, then you could listen to the music of classics like Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday and many others. If you are more inclined to sing in the style of blues or country rock then you could check out Susan Tedeschi, from the Tedeschi Trucks band.

Now that you have determined your vocal range, it’s time to get to the fun part, making some music! Singing can be an awesome activity to do for your own personal enjoyment, to entertain others, or even to make a living. Now that you have a clear idea of the tools at your disposal and a direction to take, it is recommended to seek out a professional singing instructor to guide you in the right direction. It is a great exercise to practice and learn songs by listening to records, but the best way to quickly improve your technique is to seek the help of a professional who has lots of experience in the field. They can assess your current abilities, recommend exercises and singers to check out, and serve as a friend and mentor in your journey to becoming a well rounded, accomplished singer.

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