Ever wondered which voice part you are and which artists most sound like you? Read on to find your vocal doppleganger!
Finding your voice part is easy. Your teacher will listen to your voice as your complete some ascending warmups on one pitch and listen for your passaggio (aka your “switch”), the place where your voice switches from more robust chest voice which vibrates in the chest to lighter and airy head voice which vibrates primarily in the skull. The placement of this switch determines your voice part. Contrary to popular belief, your overall range (how high and low you can sing) has much less bearing on your voice part than the placement of your tessitura (or comfortable area in your voice of vocalization. Knowing your voice part is important. You should never try to sing for an extended period of time in an uncomfortable range, or allow a choir director or other music group leader to place you in a voice part that isn’t in your comfortable range, even if you can reach the notes and they need more members in that part. Doing so is unsafe and can result in permanent vocal injury. Your voice part determines the structure of your lesson warmups, your particular vocal challenges and strengths, as well as the repertoire you should be singing. Figuring out your voice part should always be the first step in lessons.
Switch at E3 or lower.
Strengths: Resonant Sound, Full and Rich. Chest Voice
Weaknesses: Switching to Falsetto, and head voice without tension. Basses Feel Comfortable down low.
Famous Basses: Barry White, Johnny Cash, Louis Armstrong
Switch at F3 to G3
Strengths: Rich, flexible sound. Usually has plenty of power.
Weaknesses: The supposed “Baritone Curse” . The idea that not many modern singers sing in a Baritone range, so repertoire and role models are limited. Most men are baritones
Some famous baritones: George Ezra, David Bowie, Michael Buble, John Meyer
Switch above G3
Strengths: Most male repertoire is in a tenor range. The tenor voice is generally bright, flexible and has an easier time moving into head voice and falsetto than the other male voices.
Weaknesses: Will tend toward nasality more than the other Male voices.
Famous Tenors: Pavorotti, Justin Timberlake, Freddie Mercury
Switch around E4
Strengths: Powerful chest voice, rich sound
Weaknesses: Difficulty switching to head voice.
Famous Altos: Lana del Rae, Adele, Patsy Cline
Switch around F4-G4
Strengths: rich, smoky sound.
Weaknesses: tendency of voice to “pull away” from forward resonance and become breathy and uncontrolled
Famous Mezzos: Cecilia Bartoli, Beyoncé, Idina Menzel
Switch around A5-C5
Strengths: bright sound, flutey in quality, largest range (including possible “whistle register”), very flexible
Weaknesses: more risk for developing vocal health issues, straining in sound
Famous Sopranos: Renee Fleming, Mariah Carey, Julie Andrews
This list is a very superficial account of the many voice types available. Voices may also be “brighter” or “darker”, has more lyric or “trumpety” sounds. To learn more about you unique voice, please ask your voice teacher!