If I have a vocal arrangement which was originally written for male voices, what do I do to replace one (or more) of the male voices by a female voice?

  • Do I ask the female singer to sing the exact same notes as the original male singer did? That would require an extraordinarily low female voice in some cases.
  • Do I allow the female singer to sing an octave higher? This however, would change the arrangement somewhat. A voice that was originally below the main melody may end up above the melody.

Imagine an amateur band sings an Eagles song, but the band happens to have two male and one female singer. Things like this happen all the time, so I assume there must be a "best practice" answer.

1 Answer 1


Keeping the relative pitch of the lines in the same top-to-bottom order often works, so in your example the female singing the top line an octave higher might work.

You could try transposing the song up (say by a 5th), so the males can still sing the lower lines but the female can sing the top line.

"Best practice" is "use your ears and your imagination, and do whatever works best". If you have to change the voicing of some of the chords in the harmony parts, just do it.

If there were "rules" for everything to do with composing and arranging, that would be too boring!

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