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Help: How can you tell which voice you've got

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KingBrilliant 23 Sep 99 - 03:03 AM
Magpie 23 Sep 99 - 03:37 AM
KingBrilliant 23 Sep 99 - 03:47 AM
Cathy 23 Sep 99 - 06:55 AM
kendall morse (don't use) 23 Sep 99 - 06:58 AM
KingBrilliant 23 Sep 99 - 07:29 AM
FionaN 23 Sep 99 - 07:37 AM
AndyG 23 Sep 99 - 07:45 AM
sophocleese 23 Sep 99 - 08:03 AM
Vixen 23 Sep 99 - 08:16 AM
AndyG 23 Sep 99 - 08:24 AM
Magpie 23 Sep 99 - 08:29 AM
KingBrilliant 23 Sep 99 - 08:45 AM
Vixen 23 Sep 99 - 09:35 AM
Vixen 23 Sep 99 - 09:39 AM
Cara 23 Sep 99 - 09:40 AM
catspaw49 23 Sep 99 - 09:52 AM
Vixen 23 Sep 99 - 10:06 AM
Jeri 23 Sep 99 - 10:13 AM
KingBrilliant 23 Sep 99 - 10:15 AM
sophocleese 23 Sep 99 - 10:20 AM
Jeremiah McCaw 23 Sep 99 - 10:54 AM
Vixen 23 Sep 99 - 11:09 AM
sophocleese 23 Sep 99 - 11:17 AM
Tony Burns 23 Sep 99 - 11:17 AM
sophocleese 23 Sep 99 - 11:24 AM
catspaw49 23 Sep 99 - 11:30 AM
MMario 23 Sep 99 - 12:03 PM
Magpie 23 Sep 99 - 12:11 PM
Barbara Shaw 23 Sep 99 - 12:48 PM
radriano 23 Sep 99 - 12:53 PM
Joe Offer 23 Sep 99 - 01:07 PM
Susan-Marie 23 Sep 99 - 01:41 PM
Allan C. 23 Sep 99 - 02:31 PM
Margo 23 Sep 99 - 02:48 PM
sophocleese 23 Sep 99 - 03:00 PM
bobby's girl 23 Sep 99 - 03:01 PM
MMario 23 Sep 99 - 03:34 PM
sophocleese 23 Sep 99 - 03:54 PM
MMario 23 Sep 99 - 04:00 PM
Susan-Marie 23 Sep 99 - 04:04 PM
Alice 23 Sep 99 - 05:00 PM
Lonesome EJ 23 Sep 99 - 05:07 PM
Cap't Bob 23 Sep 99 - 06:19 PM
catspaw49 23 Sep 99 - 07:51 PM
Jo Taylor 23 Sep 99 - 08:16 PM
Alice 23 Sep 99 - 09:37 PM
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Alice 24 Sep 99 - 11:46 AM
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Subject: How can you tell which voice you've got?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 03:03 AM

I have always wanted to know, and have just had the brilliant idea of actually ASKING .... I know there are sopranos, altos, tenors & whatevers - but how do you know which one your voice is most like? What are the criteria? Is it range? I want to find out whether my voice is inherited from my great-granny. In typical fashion I've forgotten which one she was, but it was very low and quite loud (I'll ask my mum as soon as the hour hits a reasonable number). Cheers'm'dears.

Kris


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Magpie
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 03:37 AM

Hello there, King Brilliant

If your granny's voice was quite low, she was probably an alto. Soprano is the highest pitched woman's voice, and alto is the low pitched. Bass is the lowest pitched man's voice, tenor is the highest and baritone is pitched in the middle.

So if you are comfortable with the deep notes, you will be a bass or a baritone, and vice versa.

Are you enlightened? Magpie


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 03:47 AM

Thanks Magpie,

In that case - yes Granny was an alto & so am I & so is my daughter. So that makes me feel all mellow and connected to the past & the future (far too mellow a moment for sitting at my desk at work, but c'est la vie). But - now I have to figure out what my Dad is..... where do low, middle & high start & end??? And then can you get male altos and female tenors - or is it exclusive to gender?

Kris the enlightened (well getting there...)


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Cathy
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 06:55 AM

Many altos are just chicken sopranos. The real indicator is where your voice "breaks" - switches from head to throat and back - the place where you yodell. I can sing pretty high and very very low, i break at about A flat. I can also pass for a male tenor (by sound only) if I use my voice in a different way (but I don't know how to describe that)


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: kendall morse (don't use)
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 06:58 AM

what is a coloratura?? (sic)


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 07:29 AM

Now that is a real cliff-hanger Cathy. So - where are the break threshholds in relation to the different voices. AND I really need to know more about this passing for a male tenor - do please try to describe it. So - is the alto bit the throat bit and the soprano the head bit? Now I'm getting really confused/intrigued. And if alto=throat & soprano=head then what body-bits do the male ones use???? :)

AND - I've got a lovely mental image of a choir of chicken sopranos....

Kris


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: FionaN
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 07:37 AM

I've heard voices decribed as Contralto befoer, so what does that mean. Also, how do you train yourself to sing 'properly'. Mine all seems to come from throat/head...or should I enlist the services of a teacher...?


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: AndyG
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 07:45 AM

This may well help.

Misty Mountain Dance Record Vocal Range Information.

AndyG


Vocal Range Information

Below is a chart regarding vocal ranges. Ranges are according to the New Harvard Dictionary of Music.

Low notes and high notes are according to the music notation used in the Cakewalk sequencer. Middle C is C5, so that is the lowest a soprano can sing, and the highest a bass can sing. A normal vocal range is about 1 1/2 octaves. Each range is about two notes apart from the next range on either side.

Download and play the files below to determine your vocal range.

Downloads include a midi file for each range, using a piano sound to play the scale. Each midi file is about 300 or so bytes each (very small for quick downloading). Each sound file is in .wav format and each are about 300K in size, so they take much longer to download. However, the sound files are not very good quality, as reducing the quality reduced the download size by 87%.

RangeLow NoteHigh NoteDownloadsDownloads
SopranoC5A6midiwav
Mezzo SopranoA4F6midiwav
AltoF4D6midiwav
ContraltoD4B5midiwav
TenorB3G5midiwav
BaritoneG3E5midiwav
BassE3C5midiwav

Sound files no longer work. -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: sophocleese
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 08:03 AM

A Musician's Dictionary by David W. Barber defines a Coloratura Soprano as: A Soprano with hiccups.

I have heard of a choir being divided into four voices; ladies, altos, tenors and men.


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Vixen
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 08:16 AM

AndyG--

Is the scale on that website accurate? Are those the "standard" definitions of the voices? Just sitting here at my desk and unwarmed-up, I seem to be able to sing from tenor "do" to mezzosoprano "mi". I'm suddenly feeling rather gifted...(bearing in mind, of course, that what I have is useless if I can't use it effectively, which is what I'm just starting to learn to do!)

Based on what Cathy said about "breaks," my voice seems to "break" (again, unwarmed up) someplace in the middle of the contralto range, so I guess I'm a contralto.

Kris, what *is* your voice? Was the scale chart helpful?

V


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: AndyG
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 08:24 AM

Sorry Vixen,
my musical skills are limited to making it up as I go along so I can't comment on the accuracy.
I just find the sites. I leave it up to the talents to analyse the results.

AndyG


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Magpie
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 08:29 AM

Coloratura is when yoiu add "gracenotes", and a lot of them to, say, an aria. I.a.w. embellishment of a song.

If the table at the website is a bit dickey to understand, the C5, A4, F4 means the note C in the fifth octave, the note A in the octave below and the note F same octave as the A. Any wiser? As you can see, there is a range difference of nearly an octave between a soprano and a contralto.

Heady or throaty? Try to hit a fairly low note, and then gradually rise up to the highest note you can manage. At a certain point, your voice will "brake", and you'll sing ina falsetto voice. A lot of singers use this actively, some even sings whole songs in a falsetto voice with a rather nice reault. Some, however, like meself, sound like little ol' ladies, very shaky and uncertain.

Any wiser?

Magpie


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 08:45 AM

AndyG - thanks for the link. I was hoping someone would post one. Cheers.

Vixen - I still don't know. I am at work at the moment so I can't sing-along-a-ranges. When I was trying to transpose some songs last night into my range I reckoned to get down to the D string on the guitar comfortably, and a bit lower if I really tried. And then I can sing in a high voice bit up to about the B on the top D string & maybe a bit higher if I really try (but then its a bit hit & miss). BUT - I can't remember where the 'break'is. I know there's a bit where I can be either chest or head, so then does that mean its a moveable break-point? Hmmmm. I think I am getting even more confused. Especially as I am trying to work out how those cakewalk notes relate to the guitar string notes (I tried to search on cakewalk websites but wasn't getting anywhere). HOWEVER - I am now going to try that encyclopedia link thing & see if that helps...... Anyway, I am much intrigued by the thought of you going through all those ranges sat at your desk. In an office???? Am VERY jealous of your tenor-mezzosoprano voice - You mention that you are learning to use it effectively, how are you going about it?

Kris


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Vixen
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 09:35 AM

Kris--

Like you, I can get down to the C on the 3 fret A string; my top goes higher, though--up to the F on the 13th fret E string. The C on the first fret B string is 'middle C', which is, *I think* C4.

No need to be jealous though. My voice is *VERY* inconsistent. I never know, from song to song, whether it will be "on" or "off," meaning under my control or not. Because I can't "use" it how I want to when I want to, I'm not a very effective vocal interpreter of music. It seems to be mostly psychological and spiritual...but I don't know what "turns it on" and "turns it off." People tell me it's awesome when it's "on." They say when it's "off" it's too faint and the pitch is unsteady. But I can tell that for myself. My voice teacher says if I have any "on" at all, then I will eventually be able to turn it "on" at will. I am learning, but very slowly, and life is shorter than we think...

V


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Vixen
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 09:39 AM

Kris--

about singing in the office--I work at a college, where folks are used to unusual things, and my office right now, in light of organizational restructuring, is a storeroom about thirty steps from the back door, so there's no one nearby to hear.

V


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Cara
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 09:40 AM

What are grace notes exactly? I don't know anything about singing except that some songs I sing well and others I don't, and even that varies rather awkwardly from day to day.


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: catspaw49
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 09:52 AM

Personally, I have, in the past, just asked people and they say I have a "Bad" voice. Now I no longer feel the need to ask.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Vixen
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 10:06 AM

O Dear, 'Spaw's here Gotta go find A possum's behind!


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Jeri
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 10:13 AM

I've found there are two things (actually two parts of the same problem) that turn my voice off. I seem to have learned somewhere, that to project, I must clamp down on my vocal chords and use these to produce more volume. It has the opposite effect. Tightening my throat makes the sound shakey, makes my voice break. Insufficient air makes me do the vocal chord clamping thing. What I have to constantly tell myself is to relax my throat and shove more air out to get the volume. I try to imagine the path of the sound as a line from my abdomen to a place in between my mouth and nose, and try to relax everything in between that may interfere with the sound. I long for the day when this becomes second nature and I can quit concentrating on it.


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 10:15 AM

Right - I'm off home to test my range....... & find my breaking point.

Catspaw - perhaps they said "baaaad" - which is a whole other thing... By the way, can you tune to an A possum??

If grace notes are the twiddly-slidely bits, then I can't resist them. I think that's what they are. But I am so unsure of everything now. We have had all manner of controversy raging in the office as to which of those cakewalk notes was which on the guitar. Our resident jazz-man reckoned middle C went on the A string, but I disbelieve him - his theories make me a soprano & that I know I'm not.

I've settled on the theory that I must be a contra-alto. Til proven otherwise.

Kris


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: sophocleese
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 10:20 AM

Grace notes are warbles, trills, etc that you add to a melody to dress it up. If a song ends by going down E, D, C, and instead you sing E, D, C, quick B, and back to C, you've added a grace note. Coloratura singers just add them all over the place. They have range and flexibilty in their voices.


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Jeremiah McCaw
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 10:54 AM

AndyG - thanks. That was a great link. I've never been sure how to describe my range other than sorta tenor but not that high. Turns out I'm in between tenor and baritone. Next quandary: describe that as counter-tenor or contra-tenor? Which is correct? I know one means "a bit above" and one "a bit below". Anybody? I'm SO confused!

My range is slightly over 2 octaves, but not all at the same time of day.
:-)
I swear there's a half octave on the bottom when I wake up that just ain't there later on!


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Vixen
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 11:09 AM

Jeremiah--

I know that "wake up voice;" I can rattle the bathroom windows with it when I shower before breakfast! Can't get there after breakfast...something to do with the level of relaxation of the throat, I'll bet!

V


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: sophocleese
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 11:17 AM

Well once again I go to my handy copy of The Musician's Dictionary, I like it. "Counter-Tenor: the highest male voice currently available through legal and moral means. Sings roughly the same range as the Contralto, although he can sing lower if pressed, and higher if pinched. Counter-tenors have a tendency to sing on pitch, but out of rhythm, and to sound like a cross between an oboe and a buzz-saw. derived from the latin contra tenore, which means 'against Tenors'." I hope this clears things up for you Jeremiah. Sounds like you're tenor, just as some altos are chicken sopranos some baritones are chicken tenors, or should that be rooster?


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Tony Burns
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 11:17 AM

Vixen,

May also have something to do with breakfast. There are some performers that are very careful about what they eat prior to (even 24 hours or more) a concert. I heard Cathy Miller (Canadian performer and voice coach) speak at length about this but don't remember much. Perhaps some other Mudder can provide information on the effects of different foods on our voices.


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: sophocleese
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 11:24 AM

My singing teacher used to tell me not to drink any milk, even in tea, before singing as it increases the production of mucus in the throat. Drinking coffe just before a performance tightens the throat and really cold water also closes things up. I drink a throat medicine tea that has licorice in it and find it very useful for soothing the throat and stopping it from feeling too tired out. Alcohol muddles things but also, in small quantities, helps me get over nerves so I try and figure out if I need it any particular time. If your'e going to be singing in an evening its a good idea to make sure you stay hydrated throughout the entire day leading up to it so your throat will be loose and relaxed.


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: catspaw49
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 11:30 AM

Ahhh...now I see........It's those damn grits Karen feeds me for breakfast! I knew it....

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: MMario
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 12:03 PM

I'm another one with a range between the standard "baritone" and "tenor" -- I say "Barinor" when asked, because it sounds better then "teno-tone".

I've been told that many songs, which today would be arranged SATB - would have (centuries ago) been arranged as counter-tenor,tenor,bass. The person telling me this said it was primarily because women did not normally perform in public - so the high harmonies were provided by the counter-tenor; the melody was normally the tenor and the bass provided accent and depth. That's what I been told, and it makes sense....

MMario


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Magpie
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 12:11 PM

Personally I think a pint of Smithwick's does the trick! I tend to squeal like nobody's business when I'm warming up, but then, as I finally get on stage and our drummer feeds me a pint -it's all there! Well, sometimes at least.

Warming up is a must, but all the same I do find that my voice gets tired very easily, and I seem to remember that there was a thread about some vocal chord soothing remedy to inhale. Anyone?

Magpie


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 12:48 PM

There are various types of soprano in opera that I vaguely remember. I really don't know what I'm talking about here, so someone please feel free to correct this:

coloratura: a soprano with a light agile voice specializing in elaborate embellishment in vocal music (from the dictionary)

lyric soprano: ?? Isn't this what Kathleen Battles is? Very high and very sweet.

mezzo soprano: I believe this was what Maria Callas sang. Strong, dramatic soprano voice somewhat lower than the others.

Where's Alice, who studies operatic singing to tell us?

My voice was alto in high school choir, but now that I sing bluegrass, I usually end up singing the tenor part, which is the third over the melody. Bluegrass also identifies a "high tenor" which is the fifth over the melody, I think, and baritone and high baritone. I've seen women singing the tenor part in Handel's Messiah and other places, so it's not just for boys anymore!


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: radriano
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 12:53 PM

Dear King Brilliant:

I just have to put my two cents in here. Voice designations can be annoying. I'm somewhere between a low tenor and a high baritone but does it really matter? When I was attending college I wanted to sing in the chorus but it was really frustrating because the chorus director insisted that I was a tenor and should work on my high notes because that was where I belonged.

My theory is that you should sing where it's comfortable not where others insist you should be singing. That's why I prefer folk music to classical music (speaking in a vocal sense). I performed in a local Bay Area band that did a lot of acapella singing in which we often ignored the "rules" and were successful nonetheless.

I realize that I'm ranting somewhat here but voices sometimes fall in between the conventional designations of bass, alto, tenor and soprano.

Regards,
radriano


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 01:07 PM

I was amazed to see 30 messages posted to this thread in half a day, but it's a fascinating subject. I guess I sing fairly well from the A down there below the staff, to the F up there at the top. I also have a pretty good falsetto. What does that make me? I find that I feel a lot more comfortable with the high notes since I quit smoking.

There are many things I don't know about the opposite sex, and every day I find out more things I don't know. somebody above said something that implied that WOMEN also have a falsetto voice. Is that true?

When Dan Milner and Bob Conroy were here, I posed a question that left them speechless. Never did get an answer. Seems to me that people also speak with a melody - Dan and Bob agreed with that. Do some people speak off key?

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Susan-Marie
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 01:41 PM

Now I know it wasn't meant maliciously, but I take exception to the assertion that "many altos are chicken sopranos". I am a first alto, meaning a high alto, so OK, I could probably sing soprano if I had to, but it would be an un-natural use of my voice and I'd never get to use those neat chesty notes I have. None of the altos I've met in various choirs has been afraid of singing higher, although sometimes we do fear for our eardrums when the sopranos start those high descants. :-)

The biggest bonus of singing alto is that it has given me a wonderful appreciation of harmony. Kris - you, your grandma and your daughter are very lucky to be altos. Think of how boring music would be if everyone sang melody.

When I do sing folk stuff solo, I usually have to transpose down a couple of keys - thank the muses for computer programs that do it for me now!


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Allan C.
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 02:31 PM

Back in the days of studying music theory and writing choral music, I was taught the range of voices much as are outlined on that website. I was told that these are general ranges and if the music seemed to call for it, one could write for a voice to hit a note or two outside of its designated range. Since it was a class, we were rather timid about "coloring outside of the lines". But certainly there have been composers who have done just that. They have the altos singing soprano notes - hell, they even have tenors singing soprano notes!

My choir directors always encouraged us to try to hit the higher or lower notes as written but most said it was usually okay to drop down a third or go up a third if we just couldn't reach the written one.

There are always people who are blessed with being able to sing "outside the lines". The late Minnie Ripperton could bounce around in three octaves and never strain a note. Her falsetto was so clear that you often couldn't hear the change of voice.

It has always seemed to me that more women than men were blessed with such broad ranges. Most men I have known were hard pressed to sing the whole generally accepted range of both bass and baritone or baritone and tenor. And it is a rare tenor indeed, who can sing above an A without sliding into a falsetto. But I used to sing with a "first" soprano who could sing anywhere down to all but the lowest bass notes. Her falsetto wasn't half bad either. I have known many other women who came fairly close to the same broadness of range. - Pretty impressive!


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Margo
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 02:48 PM

Barbara Shaw, you are right. A Coloratura is light and agile. A mezzo, fuller voice, can also be coloratura if it has the flexibility. A coloratura mezzo role is Rosina in the Barber of Seville. I'm a mezzo, and right now I have a two octave range: G below middle C, and two octaves higher.

Joe, men have falsetto, women have head voice. A woman's head voice can be brought down into the middle range so that the singer is actually mixing the head voice with the middle range. (I'll have to demonstrate next time I see you!) I don't think a man can bring falsetto down like that.

Margarita


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: sophocleese
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 03:00 PM

Now now Susan-Marie an 'un-natural use of your voice'? More likely simply an unfamiliar use of your voice. Using higher notes may mean more practice but its no more un-natural than placing your fingers in weird places on a piece of wood with strings across it. With practice it becomes natural. And you needn't fear for your ear drums just your windows. I once heard a soprano soloist sing a high F purely and well sustained, it felt like it was ringing right through my middle.

I am a soprano, so I get edgy about these things. Looking at that chart of voices I sing from the alto up to the soprano range without warm up, most of my singing though is in the mezzo range. Whenever I sang with my husband's family, a bunch of altos (the women that is), I ended up frustrated because once I was warmed up my voice had nowhere to go and I was nervous experimenting with harmonies up there where its so exposed. Now I've learned some songs which they can sing lower harmonies to and we all have a better time.


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: bobby's girl
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 03:01 PM

Whatever voice you have need'nt limit what you sing - in the West Gallery tradition the tune is usually carried by the the higher mens voices and harmony added above and below,BUT women with a lower register can sing the notes of the bass part an octave up, some of the men can sing the high soprano part an octave down, and anyone who feels like it can sing the tune, so you still get wonderful harmonies, but the parts have the richness of both men and womens voices - a wonderful sound.


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: MMario
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 03:34 PM

There ARE un-natural uses of voice. I CAN, and HAVE been heard half a mile....but it is NOT natural or good for my voice. And there are songs I have been singing on a regular basis for over 30 years that are uncomfortable in either the upper or lower range, not because I am not used to singing them,(as I have sung them frequently and regularly) but because though I CAN hit the notes I still, after 30 plus years have to FORCE them...

and as far as I am concerned, if you have to force it, it's un-natural. But of course that is opinion. I have lots of opinions.


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: sophocleese
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 03:54 PM

Oh I have lots of opinions too. Its just that mine are right (joke, joke). It seems to me sometimes that singing gets put into a strange category in that it is subject to the question "Is it natural or not?" in a way that playing other instruments isn't. As another thread shows there are an awful lot of sounds that can come from a guitar in the hands of an experienced and practiced player, but rarely do people ask "Is that natural?" I would agree that using your voice in a way that hurts you over and over again is not sensible but I wouldnt suggest that it was un-natural. A lot of people don't make use of their possible full range because it felt too strange and difficult the first time they tried and so they decided it was un-natural and didn't work to make it comfortable. When I was singing in a choir my voice was fit and I had no trouble hitting high notes or singing for a while on the high notes. Now that I'm not singing in the choir I know that my higher notes are out of practice and I couldn't do what I did two years ago, but I don't doubt that if I practiced again and got my voice back in shape I could reach and sustain music in the higher range. Just as I don't doubt that if I practice for thirty years I will finally be able to play an F chord on the guitar.


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: MMario
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 04:00 PM

And I will admit that many - maybe even MOST people have that little added range where IF they practiced they would be comfortable singing. - but there IS a limit, and for some folkes that varies...


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Susan-Marie
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 04:04 PM

Sophocleese - I hope you get over your nervousness about experimenting with high harmonies, there's no reason why we altos should have all the fun of singing harmony. I've just started singing duets with a soprano whose clear light voice just floats above my alto in amazing harmonies she writes herself, and it's a lot of fun for both of us to be experimenting (in my case, having to learn a melody and then stick with it!).

As for high notes being un-natural for me, it's a little of what MMario said (they feel forced, even when I can hit them) but it's also the texture of my voice and even my personality, I guess. My voice is earthy, my personality is earthy, and the low notes are just more "me".

Anyway, we need all kinds - that reminds me, I need to go learn "All God's Children Got a Place in the Choir" for a pet blessing next week....probably have to transpose it down a couple of keys ;-)


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Alice
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 05:00 PM

If you really want to get into a discussion (or read one) about this, go to vocalist.org. Here is a bit from a discussion of the coloratura repertoire. My teacher is a coloratura soprano (I am a light lyric soprano) I have never performed in an opera.Here is her repertoire. . Sopranos have come to be known for singing the ornamental coloratura style, but it is not limited to sopranos. The AGILITY of the voice, the type of ornamentation added in variations and the style of the music composed are components of the coloratura designation.... read on:
Alice Flynn

BTW, alto means high, and it has been shortened from the word contralto, which means "against high". Alto is just an abbreviated way to say contralto; they are the same range. Some definitions of terms below, fioritura= flowery, sobrette= somewhat of a comedy role, (like Despina), spinto= pushed (more powerful) lirico spinto= powerful voice with an edge to it.

---
Quote from vocalist.org
Dear List -

Sobrette is NOT, I repeat NOT LIGHTER than lyric coloratura. It is broader, with less fioritura, and a warmer, meatier middle voice.

Before I correct her LC list, let me remind those of you who have not heard me say this ad nauseum before, that the classification of roles is done by the demand on the singer (what she has to sing with and against as far as instrumentation and the remainder of the cast). Just because one LC has sung a role (especially if its Sutherland) does not mean that role is in the LC fach. It usually means (especially if its Sutherland, again) that particular singer had/has qualities of another fach in their voice that allow them to sing the role SAFELY.

Now, on with the corrections:

Barbarina (soubrette, albeit a young one, a future Susanna)
Frau Fluth (full lyric with fioratura or Dramatic Coloratura)
Elena - Mephistopheles (lirco spinto or dramatic)
Pousette - Manon (lyric mezzo)
Sandman/Dew Fairy -Full Lyric
Anne (Rakes) - (full lyric)
Blanche (Dialogues) - lyric or lyric mezzo
Governess (Screw) - FULL lyric
Lauretta (Schicchi) - light to full lyric
Musetta - full to heavy lyric
Sophie (Rosenkavalier) - soubrette with secure height
Vixen - light lyric
Zerlina - soubrette
Alice Ford (Verdi) - lirico spinto
Donna Elvira - heavy lyric
Donna Anna - Dramatic Coloratura, full lyric with flexibility
Esclarmonde - FULL lyric
Juliette - light to full lyric
Marguerite (Huegenots) - lirico spinto
Medea - dramatic coloratura or DRAMATIC
Norma -drmatic coloratura or DRAMATIC
Poppea - full lyric
Rosalinda -Full lyric or DC
Selika - full lyric or DC
Violetta - any voice past light lyric

If anyone has questions about WHY these are the way they are, I'd be happy to explain. Its most often an issue of instrumentation, length, ensemble size and the practicalities of the theater and casting.

Best Regards -

Ron
ronland@geocities.com


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 05:07 PM

I have a pretty wide range (at least at the beginning of the evening) being able to sing both a fairly solid baritone and a decent high or first tenor voice. I often use both ends of the range on the same song. For example, my band does Turtle Blues , the old Big Brother and the Holding Co blues tune. I find it effective to start in the lower register, then go up an octave as the song, and the band, gain momentum. Generally, I find it more difficult to generate power in the lower register when singing with the band. This may be because we just play too frigging loud, or because I need to adjust my PA settings, or maybe it's just the nature of the tonal qualities: tenor seems to ring through more clearly.


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Cap't Bob
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 06:19 PM

I guess my voice would be classified right along side Spaw's.. ~~basically bad~~ The problem is that I love to sing & know hundreds of songs. As far as range is concerned I would probably be somewhere between a baritone and a bass. I guess you would call that a bariass..... hmm doesn't sound so good. If a song is written in the key of "G" I drop down and end up singing it in "C or D" etc. etc., at least I've learned to transpose songs with no problem.

Cap't Bob


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: catspaw49
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 07:51 PM

Geez Bob I'm on the floor here!!!!!!! I think I'd pronounce that bare-ass and it's perfect!!!LOL

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Jo Taylor
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 08:16 PM

Blimey, I seem to be a tenor! (going to the top of Alto according to the site above) - Alice, are those ranges correct, they give different ones for Alto / Contralto but you say they're the same? I thought only chaps could be tenors, getting a bit worried...

Jo Taylor


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Alice
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 09:37 PM

Jo, I don't know why the midi table at the link above separates contralto and alto yet it says the information is from the New Harvard Dictionary of Music, which shows the ranges like this, when you follow the link from the midi table: click here You have to realize that every voice is an individual voice, and these are only generalities about range. The vocal cords you were born with are going to develop as an adult into the range of your voice, but each person has unique qualities to the sound, and depending on how you learn to use your voice and how your health and daily 'workout' of the voice keeps it in shape, you can sing notes that go above and below these general ranges. Don't interpret that high and low notes the dictionary provides as the definite lowest and highest notes for each type of voice - although I am a soprano, I can sing to the LOWEST note they show for a TENOR! The point is, my vocal cords don't sound their best down that low, even though I can reach the low note. They have their best and brightest sound in the higher part of my range.


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Alice
Date: 23 Sep 99 - 10:14 PM

Jo, I don't know if this is making it more clear or not, but I just walked over to the piano and sang a scale from the lowest note the link showed for a tenor to the highest note they showed for a soprano (and classical sopranos sing higher than that), which is three octaves. BUT, I am definitely a soprano. When I was young, they put me in the alto section, when I was in high school they put me in the mezzo section, but when I finally had a good private teacher, she was able to tell me right away that I am a soprano. I needed to learn the techniques and train the muscles to really use that range to find the best sound of my voice. So, there probably are many women with soprano range voices who are singing in the speaking range of their voice thinking they are altos, because that is the way they comfortably sing. People have become unused to hearing a high voice whether it is a tenor or a soprano, except in opera. Bing Crosby, I read somewhere, was the one who changed music audiences through his radio performances, creating a huge audience of people who are used to hearing music sung in the speaking comfort range.


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Escamillo
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 12:47 AM

Let me make my 2 cents contribution: The difference between singing by instinct and doing the same through proper education is the same as in DRIVING AN AIRPLANE. Obviously, the results in singing are less tragic: you could loose ONLY your vocal chords.

In my experience (5 years instinct singing, 1 year listening to great singers, 18 years muted by the impression, 1 year encouraging again, 4 years studying seriously), I considered myself a bass at first (it was so comfortable!), then my choir director told me I could be a good baritone, then my teacher (tenor at Teatro Colón of Buenos Aires) told me I was a tenor, and had very badly used my voice in the low range.

Now my limits are the low E of the bass to the super-high C of the tenor (or, say the central C of soprano). The really useful range, is from the low G of bass to the high A of tenor, that's two octaves and a tone. I sing mainly at the choir, but have tried with success with small audiences:Verdi, Bach, De Curtis, and even Wagner (forgive me, Maestro Richard!)

I'm so happy I studied with a professional! He was the only one to tell me WHERE my voice sounded nice and brilliant, where the harmonics appeared, HOW it should be projected, HOW I should manage muscular resources, and I discovered a whole world of difference. I will never be a professional singer (I'm 53), but I don't want to. Every year I put my feet on the Colón Theatre stage,two or three times, among 60 other people, I'm being proposed for some solos, .. I'm happy. Conclusions:

- Never force your voice seeking the highest notes. They will come only after 1 year serious study.
- Never say (Spaw!) that your voice is bad
- Never look for the passage from chest to head voice, it is absolutely irrelevant.
- Singing is intrinsically un-natural. Don't sacrifice voice education seeking naturality.Just seek beauty
- Gentlemen: never use the falsetto voice unless you seriously want to become a counter-tenor
- Ladies: never worry about falsetto, you don't have it.
- Ladies: never sing as tenors, you will ruin your beautiful voices.
- See the message from Jeri !
- Look for a good teacher. Don't feel shy. Don't be afraid that he/she will make you a lyric singer and loose your popular character. You will be a MUCH, MUCH better popular singer if you study classics than if you don't. And see you at La Scala ! :))

Andrés Magré (Escamillo le torero who happened to be a tenor)

Please see the message from


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Subject: RE: Help: How can you tell which voice you've got
From: Alice
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 11:46 AM

Andrés, I can relate exactly to what you say! I also started studying late in life (at 44) and I am so fortunate to have found my teacher, who is a world class professional. It makes a big difference to study with somone who has performed in major opera companies in the world, to impart the life experience of being under the direction of different conductors - people have also taught my teacher. In addition to academic achievement, she has had the experience of learning from other singers, also, and at one time went to a teacher who was a physician/pianist who specialized in the larynx. All of these many "real world" influences teach more than just an academic classroom could teach.
Your analogy of learning to fly a plane is excellent. The best teacher is one who has lots of personal experience as well as the knowledge.

It may be time for me to compile the threads on singing that I have traced. We have had a number of discussions where I posted links to websites on warming up, vocal health, etc.

As André advised, don't push your voice into a range that is not its best natural range. Just because I can hit some low notes does not mean I should sing there- it puts stress on my vocal cords. I resist when people ask me to sing a particular sea shanty that they like to sing along. Whenever I lead it, I always have to be careful not to stress my voice and I sing something right after in my real range (or go to the ladies room and do some vocal exercises to 'get my voice back').

Alice Flynn


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