Discovering your vocal range is the first step to finding your voice type. This is important for singers, especially for those who sing classical or participate in choral groups. It lets you determine which parts you should audition for and help you find the subgroup you fit in as a singer.
What Is A Voice Type?
Voice types used to be a kind of voice classification that was applicable to classical singing alone. It was a means of classifying a person’s voice so the director could provide them a role that fits their voice types. This is also useful to chorales so they can group singers of the same voice type for the designation of parts.
However, in modern music such as pop or rock, these are not as important as when you are a classical singer or a choir member. In fact, singers who break out of their designated voice types are even more celebrated for their wide range. This only proves that your voice type does not equate to your voice quality.
Why Is It Important To Find My Voice Type?
If you already know your vocal range why should you find your voice type too? Well, there are several reasons why you should:
- If you are a classical singer, this will be extremely helpful to you as it would help you figure out which roles you can audition for.
- It will give you a clear image of your current abilities and can be a starting point if you want to expand your range.
- If you are to join a choral group, it would be easier for you to categorize your voice and find the group you are supposed to join.
- To answer your curiosity! Come on, we both know you want to know if you’re a tenor, a baritone, a mezzo-soprano or an alto. Indulge yourself and find out!
Types of Singing Voices for Males
Now let us take a look at the different voice types. For this part, I will first go through the male voice types.
The bass voice type is the lowest of all the vocal ranges that start from E4 to C2. It is also known to have the lowest tessitura. While the usual lowest note for basses is C2 which is 2 octaves lower than middle C, some bass singers are known to be able to sing even lower. This is where the bass voice type usually falls on the piano:
Universally, there are different ways of identifying the bass voice type. The American system subdivides the bass voice type into the following:
- Comic bass
- Lyric bass
- Dramatic bass
Here are some of the most notable bass singers of all time:
1. Avi Kaplan
Avriel Benjamin Kaplan or Avi Kaplan is a singer and songwriter that used to be a member of the famous acapella group called Pentatonix. He is known to have a vocal range of E1 – D5.
2. Till Lindemann
Till Lindemann is a German singer and songwriter best known as the lead vocalist and lyricist of the band Rammstein as well as a part of the duo Lindemann. His vocal range is known to be G#1 – A4.
3. Barry White
Barry Eugene Carter, best known for his stage name Barry White, was an American singer and songwriter. His vocal range was known to be F1 – E5.
4. Nicholai Ghiaurov
Vocal Range: E2 – F#4
Nicholai Ghiaurov was a Bulgarian opera singer and one of the most famous basses after the war. He was famous for his roles as Mussorgsky and Verdi and is known to have had a vocal range of E2 – F#4.
The baritone is the vocal type that lies between bass and tenor. The baritone vocal range is often found around G2-G4. Here is where the baritone voice range falls on the piano:
The baritone voice type, like the bass, is also divided into several subclasses:
- Baryton-noble baritone
- Baryton-Martin baritone or light baritone
- Dramatic baritone
- Lyric baritone
- Verdi baritone
These following singers are known famously for their baritone voices:
1. David Bowie
David Robert Jones, famously known for his stage name David Bowie, was an English singer and songwriter considered to be one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. His vocal range was known to fall on B1 – G5.
2. Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is an American singer and songwriter who has been a major figure in pop culture. His vocal range is known to fall on C#2 – E5.
3. Mick Jagger
Sir Michael Philip Jagger is an English singer and songwriter known worldwide as the lead vocalist of the Rolling Stones. His vocal range is known to fall on E2 – C#6.
4. John Lennon
John Winston Ono Lennon, also known as John Lennon, was an English singer and songwriter famous worldwide as the co-lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the Beatles. His vocal range was known to fall on A1 – C6.
The tenor is one of the highest male voice types. The tenor vocal range starts from C3-C5. Here is where the tenor vocal range falls on a piano:
The tenor voice type is often divided into the following subdivisions:
- Leggero tenor
- Lyric tenor
- Spinto tenor
- Dramatic tenor
- Tenor buffo
Here are some famous singers known for their tenor voices:
1. Brendon Urie
Brendon Boyd Urie, also known as Brendon Urie, is an American singer and songwriter famous worldwide as the lead singer of Panic! At The Disco of which he is now the only member remaining. His vocal range is known to be D2 – C7.
2. Elton John
Sir Elton Hercules John, more popularly known as Elton John, is an English singer and songwriter who is one of the most best-selling music artists worldwide. His vocal range is known to be E2 – D6.
3. Ricky Martin
Enrique Martin Morales, more famously known as Ricky Martin, is a Puerto Rican singer who is known to be the King of Latin Pop. His vocal range is known to be F2 – G5.
4. Luciano Pavarotti
Luciano Pavarotti Cavaliere di Gran Croce, more famously known as Luciano Pavarotti, was an Italian operatic tenor who crossed over into popular music. His vocal range was known to be C#3 – F5.
The Countertenor is a male voice type with a vocal range equivalent to that of the female contralto or mezzo-soprano. Another classification of this vocal type is the sopranist, who can match a soprano’s range. Countertenors are often baritones or tenors but can use this voice type if needed.
Here are a few famous countertenors:
1. Andreas Scholl
Andreas Scholl is a male classical singer in the alto range who specializes in Baroque classical music.
2. Philippe Jaroussky
Philippe Jaroussky is a French sopranist countertenor known for his vocal technique of melisma.
3. Nick Pitera
Nicholas Joseph Pitera is an American sopranist countertenor who became popular from several viral YouTube videos and is now a part of The Walt Disney Company.
4. Klaus Nomi
Klaus Sperber most famously known as Klaus Nomi was a German countertenor known for his vocal range and his unusual stage presence.
Types of Voice Tones for Females
The Contralto is known as the lowest female voice. A contralto belongs in the alto range, often only using this voice type if a role calls for it. Although, what sets them apart from an alto is that they can often dip even lower than the alto, tapping into a tenor or baritone vocal range. The contralto range is usually around F3 – F5.
The contralto has two subdivisions:
- Contralto Profundo (tenor)
- Contralto basso or oktavistka (baritone)
Here is a list of some popular contralto singers:
1. Oleta Adams
Oleta Adams is an American soul and gospel singer known for her powerful voice.
2. Sade Adu
Helen Folasade Adu, also known as Sade Adu, is a Nigerian-British singer and songwriter known as the lead singer of her band Sade.
3. Ernestine Anderson
Ernestine Anderson was an American jazz and blues singer who was nominated for a Grammys Award four times.
4. Karen Carpenter
Karen Carpenter is, with her brother, a part of the famous duo, The Carpenters. She is known for her 3-octave contralto voice.
Alto is known as the second-lowest female voice. However, Alto actually translates to “high” as it is higher than the tenor. The alto vocal range is often around F3-F5. Here is where the alto range would fall if viewed on a piano:
Some famous singers known for their alto voices are:
1. Amy Winehouse
Amy Jade Winehouse was an English singer and songwriter known for her alto voice. She had a vocal range of D3 – E♭6
2. Nina Simone
Eunice Kathleen Waymon more famously known as Nina Simone was an American singer and songwriter known for her alto voice. Her vocal range was known to have been G2 – F5.
Alecia Beth Moore more famously known as P!nk is an American singer and songwriter with a vocal range of G2 – A5.
Cher is an American singer and songwriter with the title “Goddess of Pop”. Her range is known to be C3 – F6.
Mezzo-Soprano translates to half soprano and is the second-highest voice in the female vocal range. This voice type lies between the alto and the soprano. The mezzo-soprano range is often found around A3-A5. Here is where the mezzo-soprano range would fall on a piano:
The mezzo-soprano voice type is divided into two subdivisions:
- Lyric mezzo-soprano
- Dramatic mezzo-soprano
Here is a list of famous singers known to have the mezzo-soprano voice type:
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, more famously known as Beyoncé, is an American singer and songwriter known to be a dramatic mezzo-soprano. Her vocal range is known to be C3 – F6.
2. Lady Gaga
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, more famously known as Lady Gaga, is an American singer and songwriter known for her versatility in the industry. She is a mezzo-soprano with the vocal range of F#2 – C6.
3. Tina Turner
Tina Turner is an American singer who is now a Swiss citizen. She is known to have a vocal range of F2 – F6.
4. Lea Salonga
Maria Lea Carmen Imutan Salonga, more famously known as Lea Salonga, is a Filipino singer best known for her roles in musicals such as Les Miserables and Miss Saigon. She is known to have the vocal range of D3 – B5.
The soprano is the highest range of all the voice types as well as the highest tessitura. In chorale, the soprano often takes the highest part which makes the melody. The soprano vocal range is often found around C4-C6. Here is how it would look like on a piano:
The soprano voice type has five subdivisions:
- Lyric Soprano
- Spinto Soprano
- Dramatic Soprano
Here are a few famous singers known for their soprano voices:
1. Christina Aguilera
Christina Maria Aguilera is an American singer and songwriter with many accolades, such as five Grammy Awards, a Latin Grammy Award, and her own star on the Walk of Fame. She is a soprano with the vocal range of B♭2 – C#7.
2. Celine Dion
Céline Marie Claudette Dion, more famously known as Celine Dion, is a Canadian singer. She is known to have the vocal range B♭2 – E6.
3. Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey is an American singer and songwriter often referred to by the media as Songbird Supreme. She is known for her 5-octave vocal range, her melismatic singing style and her use of the whistle register. Her vocal range is known to be F2 – G7.
4. Montserrat Caballe
María de Montserrat Viviana Concepción Caballé i Folch, more famously known as Monsterrat Caballe, was a Spanish operatic soprano known for her participation in the works of Verdi, Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti. She was known to have the vocal range of B♭3 – E♭6.
How To Find Your Singing Voice?
First, it is important to understand that your vocal range is likely not permanent. With proper training and practice, it is possible to expand your range and belong to a different type entirely. This list of singers with an extensive vocal range (1) just proves this fact.
Without further ado, let us proceed to the steps:
- Find a piano and list down your voice range. If you do not know how to do this, check out my article on how you can find your vocal range in a minute or less!
- Once you have listed down your vocal range, find a reputable source with a useful chart that will help you categorize your voice into the different voice types. This web page from Yale University (2) has a chart where you can check where your range falls into.
There are plenty of range finder tools on the internet from smartphone apps to YouTube videos and while these can give you instant results, it is far better to find a tried and tested tool when trying to find your voice range and type.
A great example is Christina Aguilera’s Masterclass that has a free range finder software that you can check out right here (4) along with some of the best singing lessons online that will help you sing better and even expand your range. You can check our full review of Christina Aguilera’s Masterclass here.
Above all, everyone should be proud of their voices, no matter what range or vocal type you have. All voices can contribute to creating something beautiful and appreciated by many people.
No need to aim to belong to one voice type. Remember, these are initially only used to classify singers for their roles or parts in a chorale. Limiting yourself to your current voice type is also a waste of talent. As long as you practice and aim higher and higher, your potential is endless.
The 8 Singing VOICE TYPES: Which One on the List Are You?