Classical Voice Types
and Vocal Categories!
Classical Voice Types can be subdivided into many categories, but there are certain types of voices that are specific to the Classical world, and we will discuss them here in this section.
Before we begin, you would need a basic understanding of the main types of female and male singing voices, as well as their vocal ranges and characteristics! These include the Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Contralto, Countertenor, Tenor, Baritone and Bass.
We will be relating to some of these voice types throughout this section, and will see how these voice types and vocal categories can combine to create the multitude of voices in the Classical World today!
For those who wish to know how to determine their own vocal range, as well as how to discover their ‘sweetest’ singing range, check out the relevant website section to find out more!
Each and every time you do a test or assessment of your vocals, be sure to support your voice well with your breath and warm yourself up with some breathing exercises before you sing.
Be sure to also carry out the various vocal warmups before you actually conduct any assessment on your vocals so as to get an accurate result, and also avoid harm to your vocal cords.
There are 5 main vocal categories and descriptions that belong specifically to the classical world, and they are as follows:
Let us look at each of these in slightly more detail:
A Light voice is the lightest out of the 5 classical voice types, and it describes a voice that is bright and youthful as well as sweet and lightweight.
In classical opera, a light voice or soubrette would usually play the comedic, saucy but likable roles in comic operas or operettas, as these roles would require a youthful, fun and agile quality to the voice. These roles would usually be that of young and good looking girls who are flirty but yet street wise, and would require extensive acting skills as well as singing ability too.
This is a voice that is able to sing long and even phrases, and is a medium-sized voice. The key point of this voice type is that it has a certain warmth to its colouration, with a bright and full timbre which can be heard over the orchestra.
A lyric voice would also have to be quite acrobatic, and would be most suitable for romantic or sympathetic characters in an opera.
A Full voice is one which is louder and stronger, being able to be heard over a bigger orchestra, but probably not be able to handle fast singing lines as easily as a light voice might.
The main characteristic of a full voice is that it is louder and heavier than a light voice, but less heavy than a dramatic voice.
A dramatic voice is the most powerful of the classical voices, being louder and heavier than a full voice, and can carry itself over large orchestras.
It is also more known for its power and strength, and can handle much heavier operatic repertoire.
A coloratura voice would be one which is flexible and able to perform fast vocal ornamentation and embellishments, including singing running passages and even trills!
The main characteristic of this voice is that it would be able to move through fast singing lines in the music easily. It does not however refer to specific colouration in the voice, even though the word ‘coloratura’ might lead you to think that it does.
It is interesting to note that for all 5 of these classical voice descriptions, we can actually combine them to create the multitude of voices that exist in the classical world!
For example, a lyric coloratura soprano would be a soprano voice which has a certain warmth to it, and is able to move easily through fast singing lines in music! A dramatic coloratura would be a voice that is heavy and powerful, and yet still able to negotiate the fast singing passages with relative ease!
It can get quite complicated when we combine the various descriptions together, but just bear in mind the main characteristics of each of these voices types and descriptions, and things will be much clearer for you!
It is important to note here that these 5 voice descriptions are specific to the classical world, as classical singing has its own unique diction and vocalization, which may be very different from that of pop singing for example. This would affect the quality of the singing voice and also affect the timbre and strength of the voice too.
Also, always be sure to get an experienced and qualified classical singing instructor to perform the necessary vocal training or assessment, as it is certainly an art to be able to pick out the multitude of classical voices and to describe them accurately!
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