If you’re new to singing or haven’t explored the technical aspects of your vocals, you may not be familiar with your personal vocal range and register. So how do you work out what kind of voice you have and how high – or low – you can go?
You can test and find out your vocal range either with the aid of modern technology or the old fashioned way, with a keyboard or piano. Understanding your range and vocal register will then enable you to determine your vocal type.
In this article, we’ll explain the terminology involved in singing and music relating to the voice, as well as explaining how to test your range and the tools you can use to help you improve it.
How to determine your vocal type
As a singer – whether professional or amateur – you’ll need to know your voice type. In singing groups including bands who sing harmonies and choirs, you’ll be chosen or grouped according to your voice type. This doesn’t refer to your style of singing, but rather the range in which you are most comfortable. It’s a shorthand in the music world, to understanding which songs are likely to suit you best.
But to determine your own vocal type, you first need to test and find out your vocal range. There are several ways to do this.
What is your vocal range?
Test and find out your vocal range
An experienced vocal coach or singing teacher will probably be able to identify your voice type just by listening to you. But you may want to test your range anyway and keep a note, or you may not have a vocal coach or be taking singing lessons. Part of the purpose of practising singing and doing exercises is to extend your voice higher and lower, giving more versatility and prowess. It will help to keep track of your progress and improvement and to identify any changes.
How do you figure out your vocal range?
To figure out your vocal range, you’ll need to sing through some scales. This can be done manually or by using some specialised technology to record the results for you. Some online methods provide a vague response, while others give a more accurate result.
What is my vocal range quiz
A quiz, by definition, will ask questions. And you can’t determine your exact vocal range through questioning. If you want to do a quiz anyway, it can be fun and give you a rough idea of where your register sits.
Here’s a quiz you may like to try.
Vocal range test app
Apps are very useful for musicians and can help with any number of activities. There’s always a chance the app won’t hear accurately, but generally, they’re pretty on point. Use a vocal range app, such as this one, to test your range and pitching.
How do you determine your vocal range with a scale?
The most reliable way to test your vocal range is to play up and down a scale on a piano or keyboard, and see which of the notes you can comfortably hit. Have someone else with you who can give an honest, unbiased opinion. Just because you can hit a note, doesn’t mean it’s comfortably within your range. Only include notes in your range that sound good and are not screeched or growled. Middle C can be a good place to start. First work up or down the scale, then the other way.
Find your vocal range – singing test with microphone
If you’re tuning isn’t the best, you can even get a microphone that adjusts it for you. And when working in the studio, computers will be recording your pitch as well as the notes you’re hitting. So do ask your producer for feedback on your range and voice type.
Songs in my vocal range
It’s easy to filter songs once you know your range. Many backing tracks are grouped into voice types and a quick google will return which songs and singers that’ll match it too.
Do use songs a little out of your range to practice and stretch your voice. But never strain and don’t oversing notes that are out of your natural reach, or you may experience vocal damage. When you’re sick, you’ll likely need to lower the range of the songs you’re singing to protect your voice. You may even find your ranges varies through the day, depending on how warm your voice is.
What is a good vocal range?
Everyone is different. Vocal range is determined by natures, as well as nurture, so you may have been born with a naturally large range, or a small one. Whether you even need a big range will depend on the kind of music you sing. If you write your own songs or perform as a gigging solo singer then you have far more control over the notes required. Whereas those auditioning for musical theatre, opera or bands who sing harmony, may need to be more flexible.
Average vocal range male
An average range will depend on whether you are trained or untrained. Based on this, here are some averages of the notes singers of these vocal types will be able to sing. These are approximations, as the range is by no means an exact science. So don’t worry if you can’t sing these notes. It does, however, provide something to aim toward.
Baritone vocal range
Bass vocal range
Tenor vocal range
Female vocal range chart
It can be more useful to view the range of notes on the stave. This chart depicts both female and male range:
The vocal range of famous singers
Many artists become known for their impressive vocal range. While being able to sing a large number of notes won’t get you famous it does help you to stand out from the crowd, particularly when performing live on stage in a competition. Being able to sing very high in particular, will help to wow an audience.
Who has the best vocal range?
It’s hard to say exactly who has the best vocal range. But here’s the lowdown on famous names who regularly top the list.
The iconic singer not only created some of the most unique pop music in history, but he also had a fantastic range, especially on his lower register.
Bey outstrips even the likes of opera legends Maria Callas and Montserrat Caballe in terms of her vocal range. This is thanks to her ability to sing in her mid and lower register, as well as the dizzying high notes.
This queen of pop has one of the most remarkable ranges ever recorded – spanning F2 to G7. She achieves some of her highest notes by ‘whistle singing’. This technique is not easy – get it wrong and it can sound like a harsh scream.
It’s no surprise that Freddie makes our list. His falsetto helped Queen go stratospheric on the music scene, adding an almost operatic quality to numbers like Bohemian Rhapsody.
Another singer who was no stranger to falsetto is Prince. He created both hauntingly beautiful and funky sounds from his upper register on hits such as Purple Rain and Kiss.
Faith No More’s frontman is another artist who leads the league tables when it comes to vocal range. Here he is in action.
Gaga’s range may not be a patch on Mariah’s, but it’s still impressive and is an example of a strong and versatile mid-range voice that can take on songs for all voice types.
The Guns N Roses lead singer is often cited as the artist with the biggest range of all.
What are the 6 types of Voices?
Your type is indicated by where your voice sits on the musical spectrum, from low to high. Knowing this aids in song choice, placement in choirs and in musical theatre and opera casting.
There are six types of voice, split between males and females.
Women can be altos, mezzo-sopranos or sopranos. While men can be basses, baritones or tenors. It’s possible to move between these categories in your lifetime, as you age and practice. All voice types are on a spectrum, so you could be a high alto or a low soprano for example.
How do I know my voice type?
Ask yourself which songs you find the most comfortable to sing and then identify what voice type the original singer has. This is another way to work out your voice type. Here are the voice types and a few of the famous singers who match them.
Lily Allen, Birdy, Sarah Brightman, Kate Bush, Kelly Clarkson, Ellie Goulding, Lea Michele, Nicole Scherzinger, Charlotte Church, Christina Aguilera, Skin, Britney Spears, Amanda Seyfried, LeToya Luckett.
Adele, Susan Boyle, Sheryl Crow, Dido, Paloma Faith, Aretha Franklin, Jessie J, Madonna, Idina Menzel, Alanis Morissette, Rita Ora, Rihanna, Kelly Rowland, Dusty Springfield, Gwen Stefani.
Toni Braxton, Tracy Chapman, Neneh Cherry, Cher, Lana Del Rey, Gloria Estefan, Etta James, Gladys Knight, Queen Latifah, Annie Lennox, Alison Moyet.
Bryan Adams, Fred Astaire, Brandon Flowers, Boy George, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Adam Lambert, Zayn Malik, Brian McFadden, Shawn Mendes.
Damon Albarn, Michael Bublé, Johnny Cash, Jarvis Cocker, Alice Cooper, Bradley Cooper, Drake. Childish Gambino, Josh Groban, Hozier, Hugh Jackman.
Barry White, Ike Turner, Paul Robeson, Steven Merritt, Bobby Kim, Fred Johnson, Louis Armstrong.
Some voice types are more common than others. A bass voice is much rarer than a tenor, which is why choirs are often found to be seeking bass singers. There tends to be a more even spread across female voice types, although altos are slightly less prolific than the soprano and mezzo singers. This is why most pop songs tend to suit soprano and mezzo ranges.
Test your singing voice online
Once you know your vocal range, you can use this website to find out how it correlates to your voice type.
Enter the highest and lowest notes you can sing and it will also match you with famous artists of a similar voice type. This could help you with ideas when looking to add to your repertoire – the chances are you’ll sound great singing their songs.
Once you’ve tested your vocal range, keep a record. Then test it again sometime later – you can even get creative by making a chart or graph of your progress. Many factors can affect and alter it such as pregnancy and sickness. If you understand your voice and range, you can make adaptations when needed. So, have some songs in your repertoire that push the limits, but also very comfy numbers you know are safe bets for days when your range isn’t at its fullest. A vocal coach will help keep you on track with range work, as well as assisting with song selection to best compliment your voice type.
- Which singer has the most octaves?
It’s widely reported that Axl Rose – lead vocalist of the band Guns N Roses – is the singer with the most octaves. Mike Patton of Faith No More is also often cited to be the singer with the largest range.
- Is Ariana Grande a soprano?
Yes, Ariana Grande has a soprano voice and achieves a ‘whistle’, a type of very high note that sounds almost like she’s whistling. Her range and ability to sing in her upper register regularly impresses her large audiences.
- What voice type is Ed Sheeran?
Ed Sheeran is a tenor but has a good range from around G2 to A5, so can very comfortably sing songs in a baritone range too. His tone is light and versatile in style. Ed’s songs will suit low tenors and high baritones.
How did you determine your vocal type and were you surprised by the results? Do you have any tips to test and find out your vocal range? Let us know in the comments below.