I'm writing a musical theatre piece and I want one of the male character's parts to be sung completely in falsetto, but I have no idea what clef to write it in. Would I write it in treble clef or tenor clef? To my understanding, the range for male falsetto is equivalent to a soprano, right? So if I were to write it in tenor clef it would be very high up on the ledger lines. Would it make more sense to write it in treble clef and write it as I would for a soprano?!

Also: At what note does falsetto usually start? Is it like female head voice, or does it start lower? I'm extremely confused on this since I'm female.

  • It starts on different notes for different people. A bass's falsetto will be rather different from a tenor's.
    – phoog
    Commented May 14, 2016 at 4:24
  • It will depend to an extent on where the vocalist's break point is - it'll be different for each person. The key may or may not be appropriate. Write it on the stave that's familiar, and put an 8va or 15va on the clef sign to show it's up an octave or two.
    – Tim
    Commented May 14, 2016 at 6:15

1 Answer 1


The range for male falsetto tends to be that of alto. A few soloists might dip into mezzosoprano ranges, but alto is quite more common.

One reason is that for a usable falsetto range, you are better off with a deeper chest voice and that limits the higher range. If you want your singer to stay solidly in falsetto, you'll still want to avoid low alto range (A3 tends to be on the low side even for a baritone falsetto so you cannot expect significant volume there and below without register change, but the actual falsetto low point varies between singers).

With regard to the clef, you'll use standard violin clef. It's fine for spelling out the range, and today's singers who are comfortable in that range are used to it.

There are several hardly-anything-but falsetto parts in Orff's Carmina Burana written in bass clef and labelled for baritone.

I would not recommend doing that: falsetto singing is not a weird trick on the side nowadays so you can expect singers with control of that range and technique to be more comfortable with violin clef.

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