Vocal Range for Singing –
Understand your Voice Better!
Vocal Range varies from person to person, singer to singer, and depends on numerous factors! These include the vocal cords that we are born with, our speech and singing habits, our diction, our singing and hearing ability and many many more!
In this section, we will understand more about how to measure the Full Range of our Singing Voice, the Sweetest Range of our Singing Voice, and also what we should take note of when doing this.
For starters, before we begin, please do some vocal warmups to stretch out your voice, and also to avoid harming your voice during this process of finding your vocal range. It is certainly easy to harm our vocal cords during this process, especially when we are stretching our voice to find our highest singing notes, so a vocal warmup is highly essential and should not be skipped over.
In order to find out how wide a range your voice possesses, you would need a musical instrument that can play single notes, and that can produce all the notes (including sharps and flats) over at least 5 – 6 octaves minimum. A guitar, piano, or any similar instrument that can do so will suffice.
You can begin by first singing the middle C note, and then slowly progressing downwards (on a piano, you would be moving progressively to the keys on your left) until you are not able to hear any clear audible sound being produced at that specific note played. From that lowest note, slowly move upwards note by note (including all the black keys or sharps/flats) until you reach a note at which you can sing audibly and produce a stable note that you can sustain rather easily. That would be the lowest note in your vocal range.
We usually start off by finding the lowest note because this produces less tension in our vocal cords, and also allows our voice to warm up more before we head towards the higher and more difficult notes. Also, always be sure to use proper breath support when singing, so that we avoid straining our throats or other muscles unnecessarily during our singing.
Now, try singing upwards from the middle C note (on a piano, you would be moving progressively to the keys on your right) until you are unable to produce any audible sound that you can sustain with not too much difficulty. Be sure to include your falsetto or head voice range when you are finding the full range of your voice, as these notes in the higher range of your voice are also considered part of your full range too.
Once you have found the upper and lower limits of your voice, you can count the number of octaves between these limits to know how wide your vocal range is in terms of octaves. An octave includes of 8 notes, for example from middle C to the next C on the piano. If for example your lowest singing note is a G below middle C (G3), and your highest singing note is the G that is 1 octave above the middle C octave (G5), then you would have a range of 2 octaves.
We would also need to find out the transition points or passagios that exist between the various vocal registers that you would sing through when vocalizing your full range, as this will be extremely useful to us when we sing.
We can do this by singing a simple 5-note scale, singing the notes Doh Re Mi Fa Sol Fa Mi Re Doh while using a simple ‘AH’ vowel to vocalize these notes. You should also preferably have a vocal instructor (or at least someone else) beside you to advise you on how to negotiate this scale through your entire singing range in order to avoid straining your voice when committing the various singing problems that are common to singers.
A good vocal instructor would be able to pick out the changes in tone and vocal position when you are singing the 5-note scale and moving through your entire singing range. You would also be able to find your ‘sweetest’ or most comfortable singing range, also called your ‘Tessitura’, and we can use our knowledge of our tessitura to select singing repertoire that maximises or falls within our best singing range!
An interesting point to note is that our singing ability actually has NO direct relation to the size of our vocal range! Great singers need not necessarily have wide vocal ranges, and singers with small vocal ranges (maybe even only 1 octave!) can also sing so well that they can touch our hearts with their voices. It all depends on how we use what we have, and play up our sweetest and best singing range to our advantage!
Also, the vocal range that we are able to sing depends largely on the vocal cords that we are born with. In this sense, our innate vocal range is limited by this, and cannot really be increased beyond what we are given.
However, with proper training in singing and vocalization, good vocal instructors would certainly be able to improve the quality of the top and bottom notes of our singing range, so as to make them sound better and more audible, giving singers a wider range to sing with!
A good vocal instructor would also be able to teach his or her students how to manage their vocal transitions better, how to select suitable song repertoire, and also how to make use of their best singing range to touch the hearts of their audience! This is certainly more important than acquiring a huge range in our voice!
Try out the techniques listed in this section and find out the full range of your voice, as well as your comfortable singing range or tessitura. With this knowledge, you can now find out which voice type you belong to!
Understanding our voice better and knowing our vocal range will certainly help us in our journey towards becoming a great singer! Have faith!
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