I didn't know that! Issue #37- The Voice Range 1

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Singing and the definition of vocal range

While the broadest definition of vocal range is simply the span from the lowest to the highest note a particular voice can produce, this broad definition is often not what is meant when "vocal range" is discussed in the context of singing. Vocal pedagogists tend to define the vocal range as the total span of "musically useful" pitches that a singer can produce. This is because some of the notes a voice can produce may not be considered usable by the singer within performance for various reasons.

For example, within opera all singers must project over an orchestra without the aid of a microphone. An opera singer would therefore only be able to include the notes that they are able to adequately project over an orchestra within their vocal range. In contrast, a pop artist could include notes that could be heard with the aid of a microphone.

Another factor to consider is the use of different forms of vocal production. The human voice is capable of producing sounds using different physiological processes within the larynx. These different forms of voice production are known as vocal registers. While the exact number and definition of vocal registers is a controversial topic within the field of singing, the sciences identify only four registers: the whistle register, the falsetto register, the modal register, and the vocal fry register.

Typically, only the usable range of the modal register, the register used in normal speech and most singing, is used when determining vocal range. However, there are some instances where other vocal registers are included.

For example, within opera, countertenors utilize falsetto often and coloratura sopranos utilize the whistle register frequently. These voice types would therefore include the notes from these other registers within their vocal range. Another example would be a male doo-wop singer who might quite regularly deploy his falsetto pitches in performance and thus include them in determining his range. However, in most cases only the usable pitches within the modal register are included when determining a singer's vocal range.

Courtesy of Wikipedia