How to Find Your Vocal Range and Voice Type
Learn how to figure out where your voice can naturally go
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Last Updated: January 2023 | Article Details: 2801 words (15 – 17 minute read)
Article Table of Contents
ii Primer: Music Notes and Pitches
- 1.1 Proper Posture When Singing
- 1.2 Using Your Vocal Muscles Properly
- 1.3 Breathing Right for Singing
- 1.4 How to Sing Vowels Correctly
2 Vocal Range and Type vs. Vocal Registers
3 More on Singers’ Vocal Ranges
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As an aspiring singer, knowing your vocal range – the range of notes your voice can naturally hit without strain or cracking – is essential.
In this article we’ll show you exactly how to find your current vocal range, so you’ll know your voice type and where you can comfortably sing.
It’ll help you choose/write songs you can perform comfortably and confidently.
Let’s get it…
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Primer: Notes and Pitches
Before we get into actually finding your range, you need to know how much works – specifically music notes.
If you’re already familiar with basic theory you can skip this section. But if you’re totally new to music spend a 30 seconds to read below.
Pitches (how high or low musical notes are) are denoted in groups of letters from A-G. These are the musical notes used in Western music. The different groupings of these notes (A-G) are denoted by numbers. You can have a note called A1 and a note called E4, etc.
An octave is the same note as another note, just higher or lower in pitch. So A1 is an octave below A2 (so it’s lower in pitch). A4 is an octave above A3 (so it’s higher in pitch).
Go look at a piano and you’ll see that the keyboard is made up of the same grouping of 12 notes (5 black notes, and 6 white notes) over and over again. Those are all the same notes, but in different octaves.
If you look in the very center of any piano, you’ll see the middle C note. This is denoted as C3.
If you move to the left of the keyboard, the number goes DOWN. If you move to the right, it goes UP.
Why is all this important? Because it’ll help you know exactly which notes your natural voice falls in.
We’ve got a full guide on basic music theory if you’re a complete beginner. Here’s some more music theory if you’re interested.
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How it’s Done
So now that you know how this whole “vocal range” thing works, let’s get started with figuring things out.
You’re going to be finding your highest and lowest “natural” notes and notes that use “falsetto” or sound “breathy” when you try to sing them.
IMPORTANT: Remember one thing, you can ONLY sing a note if you hit the pitch comfortably, naturally and without any vocal strain, cracking, croaking, and without any scratchiness. If you notice any of that, you CAN’T sing that note comfortably (yet…).
Finding Your Range Step-By-Step:
Here are the steps involved in how to find your singing range. Note: Sing using a vowel sound.
- Find Lowest Singable Note
The first thing you need to do is find your current absolute lowest singable note. This is the very lowest note you’re able to hit without cracking/straining. Use a piano/app to help you – going down from Middle C.
- Find Highest Singable Note
The next step if to find the exact opposite of step 1 – find your highest singable note. What is the absolute highest note you can hit without cracking/straining. Use a piano/app to help you – going up from Middle C
- Determine Full Range and Comfortable Range
Now find the highest and lowest notes you can comfortably sing with a smooth, full tone and without much effort. This will give you your “comfortable range” and your “full range.”
- Translate Into Voice Type
Now you can take both of those vocal ranges you’ve found and translate them into a voice type, which can help you pick songs to sing that will be best for your voice.
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1) Find Your Lowest Note
The first thing you need to do is find the lowest note in your vocal range that you can naturally sing.
Go to your keyboard/piano or download a free piano app on your phone/tablet/computer. Hit the middle C note and try to match the sound/pitch with your voice.
Now, move down one half step on the keyboard (the note directly to the left of the middle C) and try matching that pitch with your voice.
Easy? Good – keep going.
Move down one half step at a time (i.e. note by note) seeing which notes your voice can match naturally without strain.
Keep moving down the keyboard until you hit a note you notice you’re singing with a “breathy” quality. NOT CROAKY! If your voice is croaking when you try to hit the note, you’ve gone too far outside of your natural vocal range.
Now, write down the absolute lowest note you can hit naturally – without being “breathy” – (ex/ A2) and write down the note right below it that you can hit, but only with a “breathy” voice.
That’s the lower end of your vocal range.
2) Find Your Highest Note
Next up, you’re going to do the exact same thing as above, but in the opposite direction.
So, go back to middle C, and start singing each note while moving one half step to the right. Move up the keyboard one note at a time, and match the pitch of the piano with your voice.
Again, you should be able to sing the high note normally. You shouldn’t have to go into a falsetto voice (which is in a higher register than your normal voice, hence the “false” in falsetto).
Your voice also shouldn’t crack or be breathy.
If your voice goes into falsetto, starts to crack or becomes breathy, you can’t sing that note naturally within your vocal range.
Similar to the last step, write down the highest note you can hit naturally (ex/ E4) and the note where you voice starts to become breathy or switches to falsetto.
That is the higher end of your vocal range.
3) Plug Notes Into This Formula
Now that you have a few note boundaries, take all 4 of the note numbers you wrote down and fill in this formula:
(lowest breathy note) lowest normal note – highest normal note (highest falsetto note)
That is your full vocal range.
So for example, you might have something that looks like this: (C2) D3 – G5 (A6)
The outer numbers are your FULL vocal range, while the inner notes are your tessitura (i.e. your normal/comfortable singing range)
That means you have a vocal range between the D3 pitch and the G5 pitch. You can easily, naturally and comfortably sing any of the notes in that range without strain/crack/breathiness and without going into a different vocal register like falsetto.
But beyond that, you can also sing lower if you use a really breathy voice – all the way down to C2. And if you use a falsetto voice you can hit all the way up to A6.
Now that’s just a random example (and an unnaturally wide vocal range), but you’ll have a range that looks similar.
Count Your Octaves
Next, count the number of notes between the outer numbers in your vocal range formula. But only white notes on the keyboard – no sharps/flats.
Then take that number and divide it by 8 to find how many octaves your vocal range spans.
You should end up with a number or a fraction (ex/ 1.5). That means you can sing within a total of 1.5 or 2 (or whatever) octaves on the keyboard while staying within your range.
4) Translate That Vocal Range to a Voice Type
You may not need to do this last step, but it’s always a good idea to know this information.
If you sing in choir or plan on being a more professional singer, it’s an important piece of info you’ll be asked at some point.
We’re going to use your general FULL vocal range to determine what kind of singing voice you have.
Here’s that list we saw above, with vocal ranges included this time:
- Soprano: B3 – G6
- Mezzo-Soprano: G3 – A5
- Alto: E3 – F5
- Countertenor: G3 – C6
- Tenor: C3 – B4
- Baritone: G2 – G4
- Bass: D2 – E4
It’s important to know that your actual range won’t fall exactly within these categories. That’s ok, just choose the category you think best fits your actual vocal range when singing.
Finally, if your full vocal range (using the outer numbers in the formula above) extends between MANY different voice types then only use the inner numbers (your tessitura) to help you clarify your voice type.
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Ranges, Types and Registers
There are several different voice types that span the range of “singable” pitches in music. Finding our vocal range will help us figure out what type of singing voice we have.
Those are listed above.
Beyond that, there are a few different “vocal registers” you can sing in, no matter what voice type or vocal range you are. This refers to where in your body you’re singing from.
These registers all have a different timbre – or sound quality/character – and singing in different registers produces different actions in your vocal cords.
The different vocal registers are:
- Modal/Chest Voice
- Head Voice and Falsetto
- Vocal Fry
- Whistle Voice
You can probably imagine what each of those sound like simply by their names. For example, the whistle register is an extremely high register that produces an almost “whistling” style of singing.
If you want to improve your voice check out the best online singing lessons. And if you want to learn to extend your vocal range, check out this guide on extending your range.
More on Singers’ Vocal Ranges
Here’s some more info you might be interested on the topic of singing and vocal ranges.
Common Vocal Ranges:
The most common vocal range for males is C3 – C5, putting the most common voice type for males somewhere between Tenor and Countertenor.
For females the most common range is C4 – A5, making the most common voice type for females a Soprano.
What about common octave spans? In truth most people possess approximately a 2 octave range, so if your voice spans more than 2 octaves, you’re above average.
Famous Singers’ Vocal Ranges:
- Whitney Houston: A2 – C#6 (more than 4 octaves)
- Ariana Grande: D3 – E7 (more than 4 octaves)
- Michael Jackson: Eb2 – F#6 (more than 4 octaves)
- Beyonce: A2 – E6 (more than 4 octaves)
- Mariah Carey: F2 – G7 (more than 5 octaves!)
- Christina Aguilera: C3 – C#7 (more than 4 octaves)
Interested in seeing where your favorite singer’s vocal range sits? Check out this dope ass tool.
Frequently Asked Questions
To find out what type of singing voice you have you need to find your vocal range. Once you know the lowest and highest notes you can comfortably hit, you’ll be able to classify your voice type (i.e. Soprano, Alto, Bass, etc). Check out our full guide on how to find your vocal range above for a step-by-step walkthrough of what to do.
The singing voice with the highest pitch range is the Soprano. Typically a Soprano will be able to sing from C4 to C6, covering two very high octaves on the keyboard.
Falsetto isn’t actually a “range” in singing per-se. A vocal range is what notes you’re able to comfortably cover. Falsetto is actually a vocal register – it refers to how your vocal cords, folds and muscles are used in order to create the impression of a higher pitch. Falsetto quite literally means “false” voice.
To a large extent, yes, the voice you have has to do with genetics and development. Your genes and how you develop from birth plays a role in how your vocal folds form, how big or small your mouth is, all the way up to how your lungs work with air. All those things have an impact on how you voice works and how your vocal cords vibrate.
That directly shapes your singing voice. BUT – you’re not stuck with the voice you’re born with. You can train it to become better – especially in terms of hitting correct pitches and singing technique. So you’re not “stuck” with a voice that can’t sing. If you practice enough you can even impact and consciously shape your tone and style.
The main vocal rangers are classified as follows from highest to lowest: Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Alto, Countertenor, Tenor, Baritone, and Bass.
The average range for most people is about 3 and 1/3 octaves. That’s actually quite a large range, and likely doesn’t represent the range that can be sung well by most people. For trained singers, if you have a vocal range of 3 octaves or more, you’re a VERY GOOD singer.
The most common voice type for female singers is mezzo-soprano, while the most common voice type for males is tenor. So that would mean the most common voice types sit right around the middle area of the entire possible vocal range
Yes with a proper practice plan and training any singer can extend their natural vocal range. This is not unlimited, and there are usually ultimate highs and ultimate lows that any one particular person can effectively reach. And it is easy to ruin your voice when practicing improperly, so make sure you take lessons if you want to increase your vocal range.
There are a couple of different ways you can describe your vocal range. The range that includes your falsetto is considered your FULL, entire singable range. But the vocal range where you are most comfortable singing in your head/mix/chest voice is known as your actual vocal range or tessitura.
It is definitely possible for your vocal range to change with age, as your body is continually growing and changing. Add to that environmental factors or lifestyle factors that influence how your lungs use air or how your vocal cords are able to work and it’s possible to see changes with age. A lack of practice over time can also be a cause of a changing vocal range.
The distinction of having the widest vocal range would likely go to two people – Mariah Carey and Freddie Mercury. They are especially known for their ability to vary across a wide vocal range in their music.
If you aren’t able to sing across a couple of octaves, it may be that you’re using improper technique or just haven’t practiced enough to extend your comfortably singable range of notes. Consider taking vocal lessons to help you increase the amount of notes you are able to sing well.
Many things can affect the vocal range you’re able to sing, including lifestyle choices, health, age and of course practice/training. There are many things you can do to protect your voice including not smoking/drinking, not yelling a lot and staying hydrated throughout the day.
There you have it – you now have a better idea of your true vocal range and voice type.
The next thing YOU want to focus on is hitting those pitches within your vocal range correctly.
You may be able to hit those notes generally without strain, but it doesn’t mean it’s pitch perfect.
Also be sure to download the free vocal exercises and practice plan below to become a better singer quickly.
Thanks for reading our full guide on how to find your vocal range.
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