I know this question gets asked a lot, but neither google/wiki nor stack exchange have provided me with decisive information, and having to change voice so often really confuses me.

I'm singing since a few years now; I used to sing in a church music choir of my local conservatory when I was around 16-17. I quit for a year, and then started singing again in my Universities choir when I moved. I'm now almost 21 and, though I was assigned to every male singing voice at least once, I still don't know where my range really is.

Both choirs I sang in were SATB, usually each voice was split into a higher and a lower one (etc. high tenor, lower tenor). In the church choir I was assigned to lower bass, the past year I sang as either low tenor or -more rarely- high tenor; but recently I have been reassigned to the higher bass. My range isn't ideal and I have had problems reaching the higher/lower notes in every voice I sang. I'd say I'm most comfortable between F#3 and C#4, which isn't really great, but I usually hit a A2 and a F4 if I must...I think it's still chest voice and not falsetto.

Now, the ranges Wikipedia cites are just too much for me, for any voice; whereas the ranges in the recent pieces I sang (musicals, a bit of pop, and Mahler 2nd) had F#2 as lowest note for the higher bass voice and A#4, I think, as the highest note for the lower tenor. I can try as much as I want, but I can never sing lower than A2 (unless I'm severly throat sore and such), but with a good warming up and a bit of luck I hit a G4 singing very loudly and straining my voice a lot. When I started singing I couldn't even reach E4 with chest by straining, but my lowest note is still A. I don't know if this is range related, but my voice is also quite feeble and not very powerful, especially when I sing higher notes. It's still loud enough, just not very full.

I hope someone can tell me on what I should concentrate, whether to try and sing higher or lower and how to do so, because I'm really confused right now.

Note: the conductors of the choirs I sing and sang in sometimes gave us hints and help in extra sessions about posture, muscles and such, but I never got any lengthy vocal training in regular intervals.


1 Answer 1


First off, we need to distinguish between range and tessitura. Your range is the complete set of notes that you can sing, including head tone and falsetto. Your tessitura is the range in which it is most comfortable for you to sing. Both of these change over time, and particularly for male voices, those changes can persist well into a singer's thirties. As a personal example, I was generally asked to sing baritone during my twenties, while nowadays (in my mid-thirties) I am asked mainly to sing tenor (and high tenor) at that. My tessitura during that time expanded from about E♭3 to E♭4 to something closer to C3 to F#4, while the top of my head range expanded from about F4 to A4.

Right now, some of those changes will happen over time just as you grow older. A voice teacher can help you to work on extending your range (and with it your tessitura). But until you have the opportunity to work with a voice teacher, do not do anything that overstretches your voice. Do not sing extended material that lies too far out of your range (and tessiturea). That will lead you to make accommodations to handle the problems in range, which will then have to be undone in future voice training. Better to sing notes that are too high in falsetto and to "mouth" notes that are too low than develop bad habits in trying to sing them.

  • 1
    Good answer here, just want to extrapolate that the OP should concentrate on singing repertoire that fits their voice, and to not try and fit their voice to the repertoire. As aeismail mentions, your voice will change naturally over time, so the repertoire that you sing will change over time as well. What is most important is learning proper techniques that will allow you to sing into your 70's and beyond. Dec 22, 2013 at 18:34
  • @jjmusicnotes: It also sounds like the OP is talking about assignments in choruses, where he likely has little, if any, control over the repertoire performed.
    – aeismail
    Dec 22, 2013 at 18:40
  • yes, that is true. In that respect the range confusion is a result of directors using the OP to cover holes in the ensemble. Just to clarify, my comments were made with respect to solo repertoire. Dec 22, 2013 at 18:47
  • @aeismail: it's true that i don't have much control over what repertoire we sing, but i already do sing in falsetto when the notes are way out of my range. Regarding finding my range...so you think i should wait until after 30 to find an accurate range? Because i'm not sure where my chest voice ends and my falsetto starts, as there is no apparent exact cleft between the two.
    – Matthaeus
    Dec 24, 2013 at 12:38
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    @Matthaeus: You should not wait until you're 30 for an accurate range; just be aware that where you are now isn't necessarily where you'll be then. As for the "cleft"—there isn't a limit, and the two ranges usually overlap a fair amount. (The fact that they're different vocal production mechanisms means that it's not necessarily one or the other.)
    – aeismail
    Dec 24, 2013 at 12:44

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