Though everyone’s range is specific to their voice, most vocal ranges are categorized within 6 common voice types: Bass, Baritone, Tenor, Alto, Mezzo-Soprano, and Soprano. If you’ve been part of a choir before, you’re probably pretty familiar with these ranges. If you haven’t, you may have wondered which voice “type” fits you.
Generally speaking, your vocal range is the lowest note you can sing to the highest note you can sing. You may be able to reach notes within more than one vocal range, but when it comes to making a decision, comfort is key. Where is your voice most comfortable? Where do the notes stop sounding great even though you can still squeak them out? We’re here to help you out!
Before we break down each of the voice types, you should be familiar with the numbering system on a keyboard. Talking about notes as “the second A above middle C” can start to get confusing, so a widely used technique is to accompany note names with their given octave number on a keyboard. Middle C is called C4 because it is the 4th C (starting from the Bass) up on the keyboard.
Now that you are a little more familiar with the notes, let’s get to determining which voice type best suit you!
The three male voice types are: Bass, Baritone, and Tenor
The bass is the lowest singing range and typically lies between E2 to E4. In the lower and upper extremes of the bass voice, some basses can sing from C2 to G4.
The baritone is the second lowest singing range, and overlaps both Bass and Tenor. The typical baritone range is from A2 to A4, and might extend down to F2 or up to C5.
The baritone voice type is the most common type of male voice.
The tenor is the highest type of male voice, typically comfortable between C3 to C5. Tenors generally have greater control over their falsetto (head voice), allowing them to reach notes well into the female register.
Those who can sing higher than the average tenor are often given the title “countertenor.”
The alto is the lowest type of female voice. The typical alto range lies between F3 to F5, though there are those who can sing above or below this range. Those who can sing below are often called “contralto’s” and can usually sing in a range similar to a tenor.
Though altos have a very similar range to mezzo-sopranos, their voices are usually richer and fuller in the lower register than mezzos. Again, it’s all about where the voice is most comfortable.
The mezzo-soprano voice is the middle-range voice type for females, overlapping both the alto and soprano ranges. The typical range of this voice is between A3 and A5.
Many times, mezzo-sopranos will sing the same voice part as sopranos until there is a 3 way split between sopranos, mezzos, and altos.
The soprano is the highest singing voice. The typical soprano voice lies between C4 and C6.
Spend some time experimenting with these different ranges and find where your voice feels most comfortable. And remember to check out our Vocal Remedies: 5 Best Products for Singers for the days that your voice just isn’t quite there!
Header photo by: Kelly Sikkema