I was trying to look up the definition of tessitura, and it seems as though it refers to the range within which most notes fall in a piece. I thought this was what range was though? or are they the same thing?

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    Tessitura carries a connotation of where the notes are clustered. A lowish tenor might technically have all the range for most tenor arias, but he couldn't necessarily sing them all, as some lie too high on average and they would tire him out.
    – user207421
    Jun 11, 2016 at 13:24

2 Answers 2


An individual singer has an overall range, outside which he CAN'T sing. But he will often be able to sing a particular song in several keys, without exceeding those limits. We say he can use a higher or lower "tessitura" within his "range".

A higher or lower tessitura might suit the music better and/or put less strain on the voice.

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    This has attracted downvotes, as it's inaccurate - even wrong! And spelled wrongly too. Yet the OP was happy with the answer given.
    – Tim
    Jul 29, 2018 at 9:11

The difference between tessitura and range is distinct. The range is the lowest to highest note, either of the piece, or the pitch at which one can comfortably sing, or play on the instrument in question.. Tessitura is the general position, most used register, or lie, of the vocal lines.If a piece has a lot of high parts, that may well tax a singer's vocals, the high tessitura is what's mentioned when talking about it. It will also influence which clef is used for certain instruments. Thus a piece can have a high or low tessitura. Seems to have more bearing on the pitch limits of a piece than those of the vocalist.

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    Mathematically speaking: "Range" is an interval;"tessitura" is a distribution. Jun 12, 2016 at 6:38
  • @KilianFoth - the word, Italian, is associated with weaving, but I'm not sure how it fits with how we use it! I can see how 'distribution' works. A bit like 'mean/average/median'?
    – Tim
    Jun 12, 2016 at 7:10
  • Yes, a distribution models things like "The grades go from A to F, with a large peak at C" (normal distribution) or "There are a lot of very rich and a lot of very poor citizens, with a smaller middle class" (binomial distribution). This expresses more information than just an average value. Jun 12, 2016 at 13:10

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