TERMINOLOGY TUESDAY – How to Find Your Vocal Range
Your vocal range is a great little bit of info to add to your resume, or to be able to give at an audition. Often, a music director will have you do scales to see how high or low you can sing, but if you can answer this correctly, it saves them a step and makes you look totally on top of your vocal game.
So, let's get to the goods. In this Terminology Tuesday post – we'll discuss 4 main points.
- The definition of Vocal Range
- How to a find your vocal range
- How to write your vocal range
- The range of specific voice type
WHAT IS A VOCAL RANGE?
So – what does someone mean when they ask you for your range? Basically, they want to know how high and how low you can sing. This range is something that you can definitely work on expanding through daily practice and exercises. Just like you can stretch and strengthen your muscles, you can stretch and strengthen your voice. And!!! it's important to remember that you might not be able to access your full range first thing when you wake up in the morning. Warming up will help you to wake up the parts of your voice that might not be up for the challenge. Try using the exercises at www.freeonlinevoicelessons.com
HOW TO FIND YOUR VOCAL RANGE
After a full vocal warm up, play up and down on a piano and see how high and low you can sing. When you reach the last note that you can sing comfortably at the top, that is the top of your range. When you reach the last note you can sing at the bottom, that is the bottom of your range.
I can hear your questions now…
- BUT MOLLY… I don't play piano!
- HEY MOLLY… I play piano well enough to do that but should I really write “3 Cs above middle C on my resume?” That takes up so much room on a paper that is already filled with info!
Never fear – this next section and video will totally help you!
HOW TO WRITE YOUR VOCAL RANGE
Luckily there is a nifty little technique called Scientific Pitch Notation (aka Note-Octave Notation/American Standard Pitch Notation). I'll explain it for you in simple terms, but if you want to read more about it… click here.
Basically, each octave (series of eight notes occupying the interval between (and including) two notes) is given a number. The lowest C on a grand piano is named C1. Each note above C1 are also followed by a 1, until you get to the next C which is C2. This pattern continues up the scale so that when you get to Middle C you are at C4. From there it continues until you reach the top. (On a standard 88-key piano the lowest note is A0 and the top note is C8.
So… if you are a mezzo-soprano, you might have a range that looks like this… G3 – C6.
Don't be freaked out if this confuses you! This chart will help. AND, if you are still overwhelmed, check out the video I found and posted below the chart.
WHAT IS MY VOICE TYPE (AKA VOCAL FACH)
Voice type is determined by so much more than how high or low a singer can sing. In addition to range, one must take into consideration the color, weight, timbre, passaggio, speaking range of their voice, and how comfortably they are singing in a specific range. I've found several conflicting “ranges” for voice types, but I'll give an estimate below. If you'd like to read more about determining your voice type – this is a great article. It's more opera/choir based, but it still applies to all of you musical theatre performers. Also – if you want a funny, but not too far from the truth break down of vocal range and voice types over at the unencyclopedia, click here.
ROUGH GUIDE FOR WOMEN VOICE TYPES
SOPRANO – A3 – C6
MEZZO-SOPRANO – G3-A5
ALTO – E3-F5
ROUGH GUIDE FOR MEN VOICE TYPES
COUNTERTENOR – G3 – C6
TENOR – C3-B4
BARITONE – G2-G4
BASS – C2-C4