One of the defining features of a good musician is their vocal range.
Axl Rose, Michael Jackson, Freddy Mercury, and Mariah Carey are all famous figures for their range. But what is it, and how do you find yours?
Here’s our look at how to find and improve your own range. Follow these tips, and you’ll be ready to step inside the recording studio in no time.
1. Know Each Vocal Range
Before you explore your own range, you need to know the options for range. There are seven ranges for the human voice, and yours will fall somewhere within these categories.
Soprano is the highest range for women. It refers to the range between B3 and C6.
While the range is most known for its role in choral music, there are famous pop music sopranos. The most notable is probably Julie Andrews.
The mezzo-soprano voice is the most common female singing voice. If you’re a mezzo-soprano, your vocal range likely rests between G3 and A5.
Because this vocal type is so common, there are plenty of examples of mezzo-sopranos in pop music. Beyonce is probably the most notable.
The lowest of the female singing voices, the contralto range features women singing between E3 and F5, though women with the ability to reach lower notes are valued. Perhaps the most popular contralto today is Adele.
Countertenors are men with the highest voices. This is the highest vocal range: because of that, it’s incredibly valued. A countertenor can hit a C6 without slipping into a falsetto.
This voice type is hard to come by in non-classical music, though there are examples of countertenors performing in competitions.
While the countertenor range is the highest that men can be in, most men with high ranges would be considered tenors. A tenor can sing anywhere between C3 and B4 in their natural voice.
Freddie Mercury was a tenor commonly mistaken for a countertenor: the difference is that Mercury’s high notes were within his falsetto.
The baritone range is the most common among men. Most baritones can hit between a G2 and G4, though there is room on either end of this range. Perhaps the most famous singer with this vocal range was Elvis Presley.
The bass range is the lowest vocal range. Known for the low and vibrating sounds you would associate with the string instrument, this is an extremely valued range in choirs and quartets.
In pop music, you know it from the deep voices of legends such as Leonard Cohen.
2. Know Your Registers
Just as there are different ranges, there are also different registers.
Your register is where your voice goes as you sing. Some are comfortable, like the chest voice. Others are more strained, like the Falsetto. Having a firm understanding of register will help you find the natural range for your voice.
You can test where each register is for you by following the next three tips.
3. Find Your Lowest Notes
If you want to find your vocal range, you’ll need to find your lowest notes. Doing this is easy: just get a piano and start in the middle. Move toward lower notes and try to match them with your voice. When you can no longer comfortably match the piano, you’ve found your vocal basement.
4. And Your Highest Notes
Repeat the above process to find your highest notes. Once again, your goal should be to find the notes you can reach without entering a falsetto: the falsetto range is a totally separate set of notes than what would be considered within your normal range of voice.
5. Locate Your Chest Voice
Having found the notes you can comfortably hit, you should feasibly have a knowledge of what your chest voice is. Having this information is good, as it will allow you to know exactly which notes to hit on a regular basis.
6. Record Your Range
If you have this information and know how to read music, you should be able to record your range. Simply write down your lowest and highest notes, and you’re good to go. And now that you have this information, the next step is improving your range.
And now that you have this information, the next step is improving your range.
7. Know How To Slide Your Voice Up
Expanding your vocal range is something you will do in small pieces each day. One of the best ways to start is by sliding your voice up gradually. To do this, go through the process of finding your highest notes, but don’t be afraid to comfortably reach a note outside of your comfort zone. The key is to do this without forcing yourself: if you can do that, you’ll be able to expand your register upward over time.
To do this, go through the process of finding your highest notes, but don’t be afraid to comfortably reach a note outside of your comfort zone. The key is to do this without forcing yourself: if you can do that, you’ll be able to expand your register upward over time.
8. Stop If You Feel Pain
You cannot force yourself while expanding your vocal range. Doing this will stop your range from growing and actually limit it: you’ll have to worry about causing serious damage to your vocal chords, which could make it impossible to sing all together.
This is why you need to stop immediately if you feel pain while testing out new notes. Even if it’s a particularly high note that you could hit the day before: our voices are different on different days, and it’s important to play it safe.
9. Take Deep Breaths Before Difficult Notes
If you’re going for a particularly difficult note, treat it like blowing out a blast of wind.
Breathe in as much as you can before attempting the note, and then push the air out with the note: if you do this, you’ll be hitting those high notes in no time.
10. Work With A Professional
Working to expand your vocal range isn’t easy. If you want to improve your range without risking damage or failing to reach your potential, you need to work with a voice coach.
Vocal Range Chart
Female Vocal Range Type
- Sopranino (A3-)D4-C6(-F6)
- Soprano (F#3-)B3-A5(-D6)
- Treble (F3-)Bb3-Ab5(-Db6) (This type of voice only applicable to kids below 11 years old, as their voices haven’t changed yet. Some vocalists classify them as Sopranos, Altos, etc…)
- Mezzo-Soprano (E3-)A3-G5(-C6)
- Alto (D3-)G3-F5(-Bb5)
- Contralto (C3-)F3-Eb5(-Ab5)
Male Vocal Range Type
- Countertenor (Bb2-)Eb3-Db5(-F#5)
- High Tenor (G#2-)C#3-B4(-E5)
- Tenor (G2-)C3-Bb4(-Eb5)
- Low Tenor (F2-)Bb2-Ab4(-Db5)
- High Baritone (Eb2-)Ab2-F#4(-B4)
- Baritone (D2-)G2-F4(-Bb4)
- Bass-Baritone (C2-)F2-Eb4(-Ab4)
- Bass (B1-)E2-D4(-G4)
- Low Bass (F1-)Bb1-Ab3(-Db4)
- Octavist (B0-)E1-D3(-G3)