How to Find Your Total Vocal Range
To find your total vocal range, use your favorite vocal warm up and sing it as high and low as physically possible. There will be notes that sound harsh on the bottom, as well as pitches that will sound pinched on top.
A simple vocal warm up that will help is the five note scale going up and down (Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-Fa-Mi-Re-Do or 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1).
- Sing the five note scale on your favorite vowel. I suggest “ah.” Be sure to pick a comfortable middle pitch to start the scale on.
- Go up slightly in pitch (I suggest a half note, which as it sounds is a small increment).
- Sing the scale again starting on your new pitch.
- Repeat this process until you cannot sing any higher. You have just hit the top of your vocal range.
To find the bottom of your vocal range, sing the five note scale starting in the middle of your register and repeat the process a half note lower until you cannot sing anymore.
How to Find Note Names
To find the names of the highest and lowest notes you can sing, you will need to use an instrument. The very middle key, or pitch, of the piano is middle C or C4. The next C up the scale is C5, the “high C” is C6, and so on. The same principle applies going down the scale: the C below middle C is C3, lower still is C2, and then C1. Going up the scale starting on middle C, you could say C4, D4, E4, F4, G4, A4, B4, C5, and continue up.
The advantage of knowing the note names of your lowest and highest pitches is you can more easily classify your voice as soprano, alto, tenor, or bass. This is essential to find, because the first question anyone will ask you about your voice is, “what are you?” meaning how do you classify your voice.
Typical Total Vocal Range of Sopranos, Altos, Tenors, and Basses
The famous French vocal pedagogist Tarneaud defines the typical ranges of the four voice types as follows:
- Soprano: B3 to F6
- Alto: D3 to A5
- Tenor: A2 to A5
- Bass: B1 to G5
With this information, you can begin to determine what type of voice you have. Remember that vocal range is only one factor in voice classification, and your first evaluation may not be entirely accurate.
If it seems too complicated to find the note names of your total vocal range, then generally speaking sopranos and tenors sing higher than altos and basses. Sopranos and altos are typically women, and tenors and basses are typically men.