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Why does your voice sound different on a recording? Greg Foot Answers Your Questions
Continue reading on to learn how to find out what your particular voice type is. Soprano, mezzo-soprano, contralto, countertenor, tenor, baritone, or bass; all you need to know is in this post. Characteristics — Variables in Determining Voice Type Figuring out your voice type is not only a matter of looking at your vocal range, but at a number of different characteristics. For example, vocal tessitura and timbre can be more important as range can be between types. This is usually the case with sopranos and mezzo-sopranos; they might have the same range but mezzo-sopranos have a lower tessitura and darker timbre. All together your voice type is a result of the following vocal variables: This is because many times physique determines what roles opera singers are going to audition for. Major Category — Voice Types by Range and Tessitura If you sing in a choir or take voice lessons, you have probably already been classified as a soprano, mezzo-soprano, or contralto alto if you are a woman, and a countertenor, tenor, baritone, or bass if you are a man. Test your voice according to the following specifications. B3 — G6 Soprano is the highest female voice type. There are many types of sopranos like the coloratura soprano, lyric soprano, the soubrette etc. All of the sopranos have in common the ability to sing higher notes with ease. A typical soprano can vocalize B3 to C6, though a soprano coloratura can sing a lot higher than that reaching F6, G6 etc. At this point I would like to debunk a myth. It is widely thought that the higher a singer can sing, the better the singer is. G3 — A5 Mezzo-Soprano is the second highest female voice type. In a choir, a mezzo-soprano will usually sing along the sopranos and not the altos and will be given the title of Soprano II. When the sopranos split in half, she will sing the lower melody as her timbre is darker and tessitura lower than the sopranos. Though in the opera mezzo-sopranos most often hold supporting roles and trouser roles, i. E3 — F5 Contralto is the lowest female voice type. On the contrary, because true altos are hard to find, a true alto has greater chances of a solo carrier than a soprano. A contralto is expected to be able to vocalize from E3 to F5, however, the lower her tessitura, the more valuable she is. I have the pleasure to know a young Greek contralto whose range has experts puzzled. She can sing from C3 to F6! But unfortunately she has not yet been discovered. At this point, I would like to note something about altos and choirs. I have come across many women who have been classified as altos in their choir, though their voice type is really that of a mezzo-soprano or soprano. From what I have come to realize, many choir directors instead of spending time to work with women who sing off tune, they decide to have them sing along the altos thinking that their false singing will blend in. This practice can be very detrimental, especially for young girls who strain their voices in order to sing lower than they can, and can produce irreversible damage. The director might not be happy to do so, as choirs usually have more sopranos than altos, but insist that they at least test you out. Countertenor If you think that you might be a countertenor, read my post about falsetto and countertenors in order to find out if you really are a countertenor or, instead, a falsettist. G3 — C6 Countertenor is the rarest of all voice types. A countertenor is a male singer who can sing as high as a soprano or mezzo-soprano utilizing natural head resonance. As I said before, countertenors are extremely hard to come along and their ability to sing as high as C6 is admired by religious music connoisseurs. Though extremely unique, countertenor is not an operatic voice type, as historically, it was the castrati male singers castrated before puberty who would be chosen for the female operatic roles — it was not proper for women to sing in the opera. Instead, countertenors were popular in religious choirs, where women were also not allowed to participate. The castratti are out of the scope of this post, but for those who are interested to learn more about them, I would like to recommend the movie Farinelli, a literary twist on the life of Farinelli, the most famous castrato of all times. C3 — B4 Tenor is the highest male voice type you will find in a typical choir. Though it is the voice type with the smallest range, it barely covers 2 octaves from C3 to B4, tenors are the most sought after choir singers for two major reasons. The second reason is that most men, singers or not, fall under the baritone voice type. In the opera, the primo uomo is most often a tenor, and you will know he is a tenor because of the ringing quality in his voice. A true tenor has a high tessitura, above the middle C4, and uses a blend of head resonance and falsetto, as opposed to falsetto alone. G2 — G4 Baritone is the most common male voice type. Though common, baritone is not at all ordinary. On the contrary, the weight and power of his voice, give the baritone a very masculine feel, something that in the opera has been used in roles of generals and, most notably, noblemen. Don Giovanni, Figaro, Rigoletto, and Nabucco are all baritones. In a choir, a baritone will never learn about the particulars of his voice, since he will have to sing either with the tenors or the basses. Most baritones with a high tessitura choose to sing with the tenors, and respectively, the ones with a lower tessitura sing with the basses. Their range is anywhere between a G2 and a G4 but can extend in either way. Let your fellow singers help out. D2 — E4 Bass is the lowest male voice type, and thus a bass sings the lowest notes humanly possible. I tend to think of the deep bass notes as comparable to those of a violoncello, though some charismatic basses can hit notes lower than those of a cello. A bass will be asked to sing anywhere between a D2 and an E4. Though in a choir basses might have rather monotone melodic lines, in the opera they have a great range of roles to choose from. Basses are used as the villains and other dark characters, the funny buffos and in comic-relief roles, the dramatic princes, the noble fathers of heroines, elderly priests and more. Do you know the difference between a lyric soprano and a dramatic soprano or a leggero tenor and a spinto tenor? How can you tell which one you are? Learn all this and more in the second part of this post about the German Fach system.
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