I'm writing a new song with classical guitar and vocals. I have the choice to sing the melody in a higher octave or a lower octave (the notes are the same) and there are some tradeoffs: I can sing easier in my lower range, but the melody seems to interact in a cleaner fashion with the guitar accompaniment if I sing an octave higher.

My question is: If I prefer to sing in a lower octave, must I modify the guitar arrangement to more closely match the vocal melody? Or can I accomplish a clean enough mix using EQ (scooping out the guitar lows), etc?

Obviously, dissonance is more apparently in lower octaves, but I can't quite tell how much of this issue is related to the mix or the chord choices themselves.

In looking for other low range singers, I've noticed that many of them only hit low notes that perfectly resolve with the root note of the accompanying chord, and sometimes the music even cuts out so the bass singer can move around the scale more. e.g.

  • Why is the key more important to the guitar than the vocal? That seems completely the wrong way round to me. Sort out your vocal key & adapt the guitar part to that.
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 1, 2020 at 15:40
  • The key is the same for each variation. Only the octave is different.
    – JacobIRR
    Oct 1, 2020 at 15:41
  • That statement seems to introduce new information not present in your question.
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 1, 2020 at 15:45
  • @Tetsujin - thanks for pointing that out. I updated the question.
    – JacobIRR
    Oct 1, 2020 at 15:50

2 Answers 2


So, it appears your range is quite large - unless the song's range is quite small!

Instead of just considering singing it all in a high octave, or all in a lower octave, why not change the key to something in between? There are eleven more to try out. And even if you wanted to keep mostly open chords for guitar, there are more than several.

That way, you should find more than the compromise you search for using the present mindset. It would also help to know what range of notes are in the song, compared with what chords/voicings you hope to play.

  • I didn't consider splitting the difference - this is a great idea. I'm going to try it out.
    – JacobIRR
    Oct 1, 2020 at 16:13

You'll find that when mixing distinctively different sounds like guitar and voice, the octave in which each operates makes very little difference. Keep each in its 'comfort' range, where it sounds good. You may not even to do much eq. For many centuries both sopranos and baritones have sung the same song, with the same piano accompaniment. And concert halls don't have eq.

Don't forget the option of singing in your middle range and transposing the accompaniment. But then you MIGHT have to modify the accompaniment, beyond a simple transposition. Just like your voice, the guitar doesn't sound good when being asked to boom or screech!

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