How to Figure Out Your Vocal Range Characteristics, Types & Registers

If you are seriously wondering how to figure out your voice range. Check out this article, it will help you to know the tone you should sing in.

by Derrick Reeves | Updated: October 11, 2021

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Finding out your vocal range can be tricky. There are multiple ways to do it, but the easiest way is by taking a voice test online.

These tests will ask you to sing various notes and then give you an answer as to what type of voice you have.

However, there are different types of voices depending on your gender; male or female voices each come with their own characteristics and registers that affect how they sound. 

In this article, we'll cover vocal ranges for both males and females in detail so that you know which one best suits your voice! 

First you have to recognize the notation of musical notes 

Before you can learn about the different voice types, we need to become familiar with the numbering system used on a keyboard. From lowest C, C1, to highest C8, there are typically 8 C's on the keyboard. There is a C4 in the middle. 

Since C has no sharps or flats, and because it uses largely white keys on the piano, it is best used as a reference key instead of another one. 

The standard pitch notation uses three numbers to describe a singer's vocal range: 1 for the lowest note found in the modal register, 2 for the highest, and 3 for the highest note found in the head voice. 

Your lowest note can be the register of your vocal fry (the lowest part of your voice), and your highest note can be the register of your whistle (the top of your voice). 

With the lowest notation to the highest, the vocal range can be described. 

How To Measure A Person's Vocal Range

How To Measure A Person's Vocal Range

First of all, you must know what a true voice is. According to the explanation from the vocal material, I can briefly explain it like this. 

A standard voice is one that comes out when you've got the right breath and put enough pressure on the diaphragm. Then push up on the cleft and a beautiful sound will be emitted from the position of your front teeth. 

A well-rounded voice that comes out as comfortably as you would a normal conversation without causing the stuffy nose that's your true voice aka your chest voice.

This is the first type of vocal you should master before moving on to more complex techniques. Like a building, you always have to do the foundation carefully. 

To start measuring your vocal range you need a keyboard or a piano. If you want to increase the accuracy of the measurement, prepare an extra tuner. Or you can access the virtual keyboard tree here. 

Step 1: Locate the middle C (C4) located at the first position in the major octave between the keys. 

Step 2: Determine your lowest note by striking each note backwards to the left. Simultaneously sing that note with an “Ah” sound so that you both feel comfortable without the vocals being interrupted, uncomfortable, or choppy.

Take a breath and go lower until you can't hold it anymore. Record the last note you hit and that's your lowest note. 

Step 3: Repeat the same thing but to the right side of the keyboard and you'll see where your highest note is. 

Here I have some note when measuring your vocal range: 

Before measuring your voice or singing anywhere, make sure you warm up your voice first. This will minimize damage to the vocal cords and also help you regulate your breathing better. 

Make sure you know how to catch your breath to sing correctly. This is basic and uncompromising if you want to have a good voice. 

Keep your posture straight but comfortable whether sitting or standing, head up but not too backward. This creates a good habit that helps you to have a good posture when performing and also maximizes the amount of breath you can use to sing. 

Try to keep the volume even if you sing on a high or low note. Don't try to scream and strain your neck when singing high notes that are not good for your larynx. High notes will appear gradually when you practice properly. The same goes for low notes, making mistakes in your technique to try to get a note out of your reach will only ruin your own voice one day. 

Understanding Your Voice Type 

In order to determine your voice range, you should know what type of voice you have. 

Physiology and structural aspects of the voice box determine the voice type of a human being. There is not a lot that can be done about it because it's mostly genetics. 

Depending on the voice type, a person can sing on a different scale. With training and practice, you can raise your voice from being a bass to a tenor's note. 

When phonating on a scale beyond the vocal folds' ability before training, however, one risks straining the vocal folds. 

For females: Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Alto 

Soprano (high female voice type)

Soprano (high female voice type)

A "true" sopranos sing a range of about C4 to C6.

The term true can be used as these singers are able to use their head voice up until G5 or higher and uses falsetto sparingly.

They have strong upper registers with very bright sound quality where they can still produce high notes even without vibrato.

These voices tend to project across large spaces well because they are often bimodal (they switch between the chest and head).  

Mezzo-soprano (medium female voice type)

Mezzo-soprano (medium female voice type)

A mezzo-soprano is generally able to sing from the middle of A3 up until A5 in their modal register.

These singers are capable of head voice, but may not be able to produce very high notes without vibrato and can sometimes have a more "husky" quality depending on how they use their muscles while singing. 

Alto (low female voice type)

Alto (low female voice type)

The lowest range for an alto vocalist would go as low as F3 or even lower if supported by chest resonance down to D3 or below; however these types of ranges are not commonly used makes this variety rarer than other voices.  

The upper range for an alto vocalist would go as high as D5 or F5 above middle C.

These singers are typically capable of producing head voice and often use a lot more chest resonance when they sing which gives their voice a "breathy" quality to it. 

Males: Bass, Baritone, Tenor 

Tenor (high male voice type)

Tenor (high male voice type)

Tenors can usually be found in the same range from C4 up until C5, but sometimes even going higher than that with support from chest resonance.

The lowest notes might have some falsetto mixed in depending on how much power is used while singing this note at full volume.

The highest notes may still have some help from the modal register, but will also start using head tones around the top of your whistle's pitch; this is where the head voice starts to have a more "airy" quality. 

Baritone (medium male voice type)

Baritone (medium male voice type)

Baritones typically sing in the same range as tenors, but sometimes a little lower and have more of a "chesty" quality to their sound.

These singers can usually use head tones up until B4 or C5 without too much trouble and still keep the chest tone present in their voices; this is where you'll notice that they are able to produce high notes with minimal effort while also maintain clarity in those higher registers.  

Bass (low male voice type)

Bass (low male voice type)

The lowest range for bass can be found from E2 up until E4 in their modal register, but it's not uncommon that they may sometimes use the chest resonance as well or mix some falsetto into these notes so they are able to sing down lower than what might just be possible with an open throat and straight tone production.

These singers will still have very dark sound qualities, which helps them resonate better when singing low ranges of songs; however, their higher registers start going back towards using pure head tones without much support from chest resonance like tenors do. 

Vocal Registers

A register is basically just where you're able to produce your highest note or lowest note without straining yourself too much. There are four registers: modal, mixed tone, head tone, whistle/falsetto tone. Every voice type has a different range of registers that they are able to use. 

Modal Register

The modal register is the one in which people will be most comfortable singing and it's typically where you'll want to sing your songs or even talk if possible.

Typically, this goes from Ab3 below middle C up until around A4 above middle C for males while females can sometimes go as high as C5 just under their whistle tone without too much trouble.

Tenors might not have any problem going higher than what would be considered "modal" with some help from chest resonance.  

Mixed Register

Males and females are represented in this register. This register is found between your chest and your head registers. One whole octave separates the first pitch range - primo, from the second - secondo.

As opposed to a woman's middle voice, this ranges around major thirds or fourths, a man's middle voice is sometimes known as the passaggio zone. 

Hence, the sound of this register appears to be a blend from both your head and your chest sounds, providing a rich, warm tone to the voice of the singer. Blending or blending other registers within this range is considered possible by those skilled at drawing seamlessly through this transition area. 

Head Tone (Head Voice)

It also happens to be the most popular singing style among musicians. The Head Tone is more loud and bright than the Falsetto Register but it also sounds lighter than the Chest Tone. 

Falsettos and head voices differ in that falsettos require opening the glottis, whereas voices with powerful voices narrow the vocal folds. A head voice's resonance is a little more balanced than a falsetto's. 

The falsetto is more impactful for men than for women because most women cannot differentiate between head and the sound from chest voice. Beginners should try to limit the use of vowels to ah when singing in this range as it will allow you to slur the notes more easily. 

As the singer uses this register, sound waves are actually reflected in the oropharynx, nasal cavity, and in the bone tissues of the skull. It is the rapid vibratory pattern of the vocal chord together with stretching of the vocal folds that produces the specific tone. 

Falsetto 

A falsetto is a word that has come to mean a lot of different things over time. Male vocalists most commonly used the term when describing the highest volume they can attain. As a result, the highest notes on a man's voice are similar to those on a woman's voice. 

Additionally, female vocalists can sing at even higher pitches using this technique too. Another register is near the top of the natural range for humans but rarely used due to its squeaky voice rather than singing voice. 

Falsetto is a method of singing in high pitches, but what is the difference from other methods, such as the head voice register? 

Basically, when air blows past the lungs, tiny edges on the throat muscles create a unique tone. Additionally, falsettos help alleviate throat strain because they only produce sounds from the upper head.  

Falsetto has fewer overtones than head voice. The pitch range of Falsetto is determined by how strongly the air flows out of your lungs into your skull. Last but not least, it sounds fuller and rings longer. 

Conclusion 

The ability to sing well is something many people take for granted, but it’s actually a skill that requires work and practice.

There are four main types of voices available in both men and women—the soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, and tenor.

All have their own characteristics which we will explore. After reading this article, you should have a better understanding of the different types and characteristics of male and female voices. You may be able to determine your own voice type.

We hope you now know how to figure out your vocal range and have a great plan for recording it.

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