What is vocal range? This is why you should know yours.

In this post I will cover:

  • What is vocal range
  • Why is it useful to know your vocal range
  • How to find your vocal range
  • What voice types are and which of them your voice belongs to

What is vocal range?

Your vocal range is a set of notes, that you can comfortably sing.

I would like to emphasize the importance of the word “comfortable” here. The notes that you can hit with significant effort and with reduced sound quality (e.g. you lose in loudness, pitch stability, pressure control… ) are considered to be in your vocal range extension and are not part of your range itself.

Ranges are normally identified by their boundaries. The vocal range is not an exception. On paper, the vocal range might look like this: (C3-C5). All it means is that the lowest note of the range is C3 and the highest note is C5.

Notes from vocal range (C3-C5) on the piano. Green — notes from the range, yellow — notes from the extension

Why is it useful to know your vocal range?

Once you find your vocal range you can:

📐 Measure your progress.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it” — says the wisdom. If you plan to develop your voice and learn how to sing higher notes, you should know where your limit currently lies. Only then can you exercise and track your progress.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

(P. Ducker)

🧑‍🎤 Find songs that you can sing.

Just like your voice, any solo song has a vocal range too. It’s similarly defined by the lowest and the highest pitches performed in the song. If you know your voice range and the range of the song, then you can easily check if you will be able to perform the piece. This knowledge turns handy if you are building up your singing repertoire or just thinking of how not to sound too embarrassing during an upcoming karaoke night.

You might be wondering how you can quickly check the range of a song you like. Or, maybe, even better, how you can get a list of songs that are within your vocal range? For that, you can use Singing Carrots Songs Finder. It uses a database of vocal ranges for more than 70 000 songs.

🔧 Adjust songs to fit your voice via transposition.

Quite often people want to sing a song that is outside of their vocal range. The solution to this problem is called transposition. Musicians can change the key in which they perform the song by shifting all the notes of the song by a certain number of tones up or down.

Example. Let’s say you would like to sing “Yesterday” by “The Beatles” and your vocal range is (E3-E5).

“Yesterday” song’s vocal range is (D4-F5) and it is originally performed in the key of “F major”. The difference between your highest note E5 and the song’s highest note F5 is one semitone.

So, if we transpose the song one semitone down into the key of “E major” the song’s vocal range will become (C#4-E5) and you will be ready to go.

Singing Carrots can do all these calculations for you. All you need to do is to provide your vocal range and search for a song you want to sing. The website will outline all the possible transposition options for you.

🌅 Make your warm-ups effective and safe.

Vocal warm-up might be one of the most important parts of singing training. Done properly it helps to develop your voice and to protect your body from injuries. Unfortunately, if you do not know how to gradually warm up your voice, you might harm yourself rather badly. This is not much of a concern for those people who are working with a vocal coach. A qualified teacher can easily tailor your warm-ups to the specifics of your body. But what should you do if you want to practice on your own?

Warm-ups might vary greatly from one teacher to another, but conceptually a lot of coaches are following this common pattern:

  1. Start with some exercises that make use of controlled air pressure (humming, lip trills, singing through the straw, etc… )
  2. Pick a simple note sequence and sing it through with just one vowel starting from the middle of your vocal range. Then you gradually move the sequence towards the lower and the higher boundaries of your range. After doing a couple of repetitions around the boundaries of your range, the note sequence and/or the vowel is changed and the exercise repeats.
  3. The exercises following these two will vary widely depending on the particular vocal techniques you want to tackle.

In order to perform the step #2, you need to know where the middle and the boundaries of your vocal range are.

Your life will be simpler if you play a musical instrument and can accompany yourself. Alternatively, there are plenty of mobile apps that you can use. Just make sure you do not blindly follow their patterns. Always adjust the exercises to your vocal range, so you can start from the pitches that are easier for your voice. Singing carrots is also offering interactive vocal exercises.

How to find your vocal range?

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

🎹 If you play piano, guitar, or any other musical instrument with a relatively wide range of notes, then you can simply play the notes and sing along to see how low and how high you can get. Tip: start from C4 (the middle C). It’s highly likely C4 is inside your range. From there you can move up and down.

🙌 If you do not play a musical instrument or you do not have one at hand, then you can roughly estimate your vocal range by following the instructions in this video:

It’s not very precise for a couple of reasons:

  • You might end up picking the wrong octave (e.g. E2 instead of E3)
  • Some people have ranges lower than E2 and higher than C6.
  • If your range starts with something like F#2, you will end up with G3

🎙 If you want to get more precise results and have a microphone on your device you can use the interactive Vocal Range Finder from Singing Carrots.

What voice types are and which of them your voice belongs to

This article would not be complete without a few extra words about voice types. Classical music defines the following vocal ranges with special names:

Female

  • Soprano (C4-C6)
  • Mezzo-Soprano (A3-A5)
  • Contralto (F3-F5)

Male

  • Countertenor (E3-E5)
  • Tenor (C3-C5)
  • Baritone (A2-A4)
  • Bass (E2-E4)

For instance, if you can cover the notes from A3 to A5 your voice can probably qualify as a Mezzo-Soprano. Congratulations! What can you do with this badge?

A lot of classical music pieces are marked with the voice type that is supposed to sing it. The knowledge of your voice type can help you to choose proper parts in choirs, classical pieces, musicals, etc. 🏛

I hope you found this article useful. Regards, and enjoy your singing!

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