Every singer has a range that is comfortable to them.
The main female ranges are:
Alto, or contralto – the low range
Mezzo Soprano – the middle range
Soprano – higher range
Boys and girls up to the ages of 13 also suit the soprano range.
The male ranges are:
Bass – the lowest range
Baritone, or second tenor - the middle range
Tenor – a higher range
Counter Tenor – a Falsetto voice
As I mention in the spoken Chapters, this program is simply “Male” and “Female”, which is the medium range for men (Baritone or second tenor) and women (Mezzo Soprano). Six ranges became very complicated. I tried to give the Vocal Exercises a bit of leeway, in that they don’t start as low as they could do and go very high in the range to compensate for this. You can find your range by going to http://singingfromthecenter.com/samples/#vocalrange.
Play and sing along with the scales on the page, and the one that feels most comfortable is your range.
Alternatively, if you own a piano or keyboard you can simply find your range by matching the notes on the diagrams below and finding what is comfortable for you.
Bear in mind that the examples below are pretty general and quite conservative. I have found, as a rule, that most people have between a 1Â½ to 2 octave range. The piano note on Vocal Exercises will start more or less where it is comfortable in your range, but will usually go far higher than most singers find comfortable. This is so that, as you practice, you stretch the envelope a little bit more each day and so develop your voice easily. And this’ll happen as long as you are centered, not straining, and concentrating on “opening up”.
Alto – generally very similar to the male tenor range – from C below middle C to E one octave above middle C
The light pink ‘C’ shows Middle C on a full piano keyboard.
Mezzo Soprano – The “middle range” voice, generally ranging from G or F below middle C to two octaves above middle C:
Soprano – A higher voice, generally ranging from middle C to D above Top C:
(this is a conservative range estimate for a professional singer. A true soprano can often reach a top E or even higher).
Bass – The deepest male voice, generally ranging from a low C, two octaves below middle C to E above middle C:
Baritone – there are really two categories here, Baritone (higher than bass) and Second Tenor (higher still, and similar to the Mezzo Soprano range). Both ranges are not a million miles away from each other, so to avoid confusion, and also to make things easier, I’ve made the baritone range slightly higher than normal. This way we get mid range Vocal Exercises for men. It ranges from F or G below C2 (the octave below middle C) to G above middle C. However, you’ll find that most of the exercises start on a G below middle C, just to be on the safe side, and also that some of the exercises go up very high for those singers with a falsetto or high soprano range:
Tenor, generally ranging from one octave below middle C to E above middle C:
You may have a Counter Tenor or Falsetto voice that you can use. It’s similar to having a soprano range on top of a normal tenor or second tenor voice (e.g. The Bee Gees), and if this is a range that you have, and would like to develop further, it might be an idea to also download the female exercises and work with them also. Once again however, the key is to gradually extend your range over time, so once it becomes uncomfortable, stop singing then try and push the envelope a little bit more each day.
If you have a falsetto range it can be helpful to imagine, as you go higher and higher up the scale, that your voice is like a pulley system i.e. a balloon with a weight on the other end of it. Your voice is the weight, and the note is the balloon. As you go higher and higher, the balloon goes out the top of your head, and the note travels further and further down the body. At the same time, your body, especially your head, feels open and clear. The note is focused and very clearly directed behind the nose and out the top of the head. This can really help to get the “choirboy” effect into the voice, and give it clarity and richness without sounding thin or pinched.
The Soprano range seems to suit boys and girls between the ages of 6 – 13 (although this program is not suitable for children under the age of 14).
Bear in mind that these ranges are really a guide. There’s no hard and fast rule since each voice, although likely to fit into a certain range and category, is still essentially different. However, since the voice is a muscle, the more we sing the stronger the voice gets and the more range we have. This is for you to develop gradually over time – half an hour a day is ample at first (and once again, stop singing when you feel that it’s no longer comfortable. The voice is a muscle and works better when the range is gradually extended over time, just as you’d exercise any muscle of the body).
The trick is to do all of the exercises without strain. It’s almost like your body knows how to sing, and the more you use it the more you’ll become comfortable with your voice, i.e.the easier it becomes. Think of a little bird and how effortlessly it can make a huge sound that can fill a whole field. Of course, singing takes effort, but it isn’t something that you force out, that you strain to do.
Once again and most importantly of all, when practicing and singing generally, try to remember to enjoy it and like the sound you’re making. Basic stuff, but really important!