There are three key things you must know in order to figure out your voice part: your vocal range, your vocal register or tessitura, and where your two vocal passagios are.
Your Vocal Range
The way to figure out your vocal range is literally to sit in front of a keyboard and play the notes and see if you can sing them. If you do not have access to a keyboard or are not familiar with the names of the keys, there are numerous Youtube videos that can help you with this.
Typical vocal ranges are as follows:
- Soprano: G3-C6
- Mezzo Soprano: G3-A5
- Alto/Contralto: F3-F5
- Tenor: B2-G4
- Baritone: A2-F4
- Bass: E2-E4
For me, my vocal range is about an Eb3-Eb6. Do you see the issue with only looking at vocal range to determine voice part?
The vocal ranges listed are typical, but not everyone falls under those exact voice ranges. My vocal range overlaps all three female voice parts. So, what does that make me–all three? No. We then go to vocal register or tessitura.
Vocal Register or Tessitura
Vocal register or tessitura is the range you are most comfortable singing. Extremely skilled singers are comfortable across most of their range, but this can also glean some insight.
Here are the most common tessituras for each voice part:
- Soprano: F4-G5
- Mezzo Soprano: D4-F5
- Contralto: C4-E5
- Tenor: F3-G4
- Baritone: D3-E4
- Bass: A2-C4
My tessitura is right about where a soprano’s tessitura is. In case you were wondering, I am definitely a soprano, despite being able to sing lower than most contraltos. Tessitura is not about how high or low you can go, but the vocal range where you are most comfortable singing. And, I, like most sopranos, am most comfortable in the upper bounds of my voice.
Vocal passagios are basically the transitions between the parts of your voice. Yes, when you sing, there are three different voices you use–your chest voice, your head voice, and your mixed voice.
Chest voice is the lowest part of your voice, and the part of your voice you use when speaking. The sound resounds more from your chest than anywhere else in your body. Contraltos are often most comfortable using this voice.
Head voice is the opposite. It is the higher and lighter part of your voice, and the sound resounds from behind your nose most often. Sopranos usually have the strongest head voices.
Mixed voice is a mixture of the two. The pitches are too high to sing entirely in chest voice, but not so high that the chest voice cannot be used at all.
Although I do not use this as much to determine voice type, if vocal range and register do not yield clear answers, determining where the transitions between each voice are can assist with this. For me, my passagios are at Eb4 and between E5 and G5, which is about where a soprano’s passagios fall.
Conclusion & Offer
Based on this information, where does your voice fall? Are you a soprano, mezzo, or contralto? or for the men, are you a tenor, baritone, or bass?
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