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Vocal Ranges 
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Young Hoofer
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Post Vocal Ranges
I am taking my first shot at vocal songwriting, and I was wondering if someone could break down the general ranges of the different voice parts so I don't end up with something completely unsingable.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Mon Nov 26, 2007 6:08 pm
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Tony Winner
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocal_range

Although, I think some of those ranges have really loose definitions. For example, a soprano should probably be able to hit higher than a C6. Just my opinion.

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Mon Nov 26, 2007 6:12 pm
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I don't know if you already have some knowledge or not, but it really really helps to know at least some knowledge of the theory behind vocal writting before actually sitting down to compose. Just a suggestion.

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Mon Nov 26, 2007 6:14 pm
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Young Hoofer
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I've got theory - I've been singing chorally for years.

It's just, as a bass, I've never paid specifically close attention to the higher parts and their upper limits.

Not Dead Yet - Thanks, I don't know why I didn't just check the wiki.

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Mon Nov 26, 2007 6:23 pm
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Having some form of experience, whether it be band, chorus, or private lessons, is different that learning straight up theory.

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Mon Nov 26, 2007 6:28 pm
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Young Hoofer
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Obviously. However, I'm very intuitive when it comes to theory, I've got a good ear, and I know the sound I want (not bragging, just sayin' is all). A little guess and check never hurt anyone.

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Mon Nov 26, 2007 6:35 pm
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There's no reason not to give it a try -- I imagine it will be tedious actually writing the music on paper but I think it's worth it to go for it. You may want to learn a little about key signatures, etc. Or, pick your notes and get help with that later from your music teacher to actually write out your tunes.

Have fun!


Tue Nov 27, 2007 7:02 am
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As a writer that wouldnt know a minim from a treble clef, I just write anything and transpose with midi when I find a singer. I've never had any problems with this method.


Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:47 am
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It might also help to find characters from musicals who are almost always in the same exact range and listen to different actors/actresses singing the parts. That helps me get a perspective on the sounds and shapes a certain voice can add to a piece.

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Post Re: Vocal Ranges
Well with men's voices they tend to go a little thin or dramatic at the top but it's something like this. Also these might not be singable for an untrained singer.

Bass: range D2 to D4 (they're more comfortable in the lower range of their voice )
Baritone: range G2 to G4 or A2 to A4 (middle section and high notes are usually strong and manly)
Tenor: range C3 to C5 (either very thin or dramatic at the top and more comfortable after G3)
Contralto: range E3 to E5
Mezzo: range G3 to G5
Soprano: range C4 to C6

It does depend on the singer what is comfortable, and their are a lot of people with larger ranges but this is usual how it's written.

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Sun Apr 22, 2012 2:39 pm
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Post Re: Vocal Ranges
lowlsnail wrote:
Well with men's voices they tend to go a little thin or dramatic at the top but it's something like this. Also these might not be singable for an untrained singer.

Bass: range D2 to D4 (they're more comfortable in the lower range of their voice )
Baritone: range G2 to G4 or A2 to A4 (middle section and high notes are usually strong and manly)
Tenor: range C3 to C5 (either very thin or dramatic at the top and more comfortable after G3)
Contralto: range E3 to E5
Mezzo: range G3 to G5
Soprano: range C4 to C6

It does depend on the singer what is comfortable, and their are a lot of people with larger ranges but this is usual how it's written.



And in addition with men, while you should try not to go too crazy, there are often roles written that have much larger ranges than one would suggest. Sondheim himself wrote a G2-B4 range for Henrik in A Little Night music. It is so crazy that often, one of the two extremes will be faked in some way. But once in a while you will find someone who has that range and it works perfectly. So definitely keep these guidelines, but remember that they are just that: Guidelines.

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Wed May 23, 2012 5:13 pm
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Post Re: Vocal Ranges
Well, you know, Sondheim's writing for professionals. And part of voice training is expanding your useful range. Personally, I claim D2-Ab4 and call myself a bass-baritone, but I can (and have) stretched it a little on each side in performance as needed.

Let me give you this one hint, though: avoid the extremes without good reason. On the low end, you risk becoming inaudible (volume drops on the extreme low ranges), and on the top end, you risk becoming incomprehensible (sure, sopranos should be able to sing above C6 in theory, but can you understand a single syllable when they do?) Be aware of the pitfalls, so when you DO indulge in pushing the boundaries, you're aware of and can account for the likely effects.

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