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I always thought I sounded bad when I sing because I can't reach high notes. I figured I knew what the song is supposed to sound like, so I'm probably screechy because I'm not getting the correct high notes.

Yesterday, I found this app where you sing into it and it shows what notes you're singing in, so I found out my range was between G3-A4. When I asked my friend who I consider a good singer (just in sounds only, I have no idea about technique), the highest she got to was B4. We could sing the same song, and I'd sound like a mangled cat while she'd sound harmonious. She's had no choir experience and attributes her voice to her mom being a good singer. We are both 19 year old females and played instruments when we were little but never took choir.

I know this is very vague since none of you guys have heard us sing, but I was wondering if you guys had any possible answers or speculations on what could possibly be the difference between our voices?

  • Everyone's voice is different. You may be soprano or alto. Anyway, try recording yourself. The chest voice and the head voice sound quite different in your own head, but other people may not hear the difference at all. If you feel the need, take some lessons or join a choir. This may be the start of something big. – RedSonja Nov 17 '16 at 12:12
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G3-A4 sounds as if you're never getting beyond the 'break' in your voice, where the darker chest register gives way to the more cutting head voice. Many girls dislike the sound of their head voice, thinking it squeaky and thin. You have to 'sing out' in head voice, not just croon. Many 'pop' careers have used only chest.

(All voices are different - I am speaking generally.)

I was going to suggest you looked on YouTube for "head voice" and "chest voice" demonstrations. There are quite a few "teachers", but I was disappointed to discover that most of them want to TALK about the subject but offer minimal demonstration. Here's one example. If you find better, perhaps you'd share?

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G3-A4 would be an almost unusably small range for a female voice (by the way, mentioning your own gender would have been a good idea). So if your assessment is correct (and I have my doubts because it casts your "good singer" female friend as a tenor or baritone), my bet is on your singing not leaving the chest register. While it has its place for some singing styles, as a sole resource, particularly with an untrained singer, it's a bit restricted. And, as you observed, is problematic in the upper range for an untrained voice.

  • I guess to be more specific she sounds good to the untrained ear, which is what I'd like to have. I'm also a female. Could you expand more on the chest register? – stumped Oct 12 '16 at 15:16
  • What instrument did you play when you were little? – jomki Oct 13 '16 at 0:07
  • A very popular British singer during WW2, Vera Lynn, had a useable range (or a range she chose to use) of just one octave. I wouldn't advise using as her as an excuse though :-) She's looking pretty good at 99 years old. Google her. – Laurence Payne Nov 11 '16 at 17:37
  • @jomki piano and a little clarinet – stumped Nov 15 '16 at 20:51
  • How did you sound on your clarinet? And what instrument did your friend play? – jomki Nov 16 '16 at 3:56
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Range, timbre and tone are three separate qualities, all of which contribute to one's singing abilities as a whole. You may share the first with her, but it seems as though you're interested in improving the latter two.

If finding a vocal coach is impossible at the moment, look into open throat singing and develop your soft palate techniques through personal research. Oh, and double check your range. The next note (full step) up from G3 is A4!

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    I think you are mistaken, @lilgreg. There would be some logic in the switch from octave 3 to octave 4 coming between G and A, but actually it comes at middle C. Even if there is an alternative method that switches at A, it seems quite clear that it isn't being used here! – Laurence Payne Nov 12 '16 at 17:45
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The reason I was asking about what instruments you both played is because I think that can have an effect on how you approach singing. I think for young, untrained singers such as you and your friend, the difference in sound quality could be due to breath support, relaxation and also pitch control.

Without measured, consistent breath support the voice can sound weak or warbly or just not controlled in general. Think of playing a clear note on the clarinet and how it requires a good mount even air pressure to get it to sound right. Practice just singing one note and making it sound even like you're playing a note on the clarinet.

If your vocal chords are too tense you can produce a strained, scratchy, or motor like sound to your voice. Practice relaxing your throat and shoulders and body.

Singing in pitch is really tough sometimes. People who have played string instruments or flexible pitch instruments like the trombone sometimes have an easier time singing on pitch because their instrument requires that type of adjustment. However, wind instruments sometimes fair better as well because there is a certain amount of fine control needed to control pitch on those instruments.

In general, try to enjoy singing and don't let comparisons become negative. If you feel someone is doing something that you like, try and figure it out, like you are doing here, and apply it to yourself. If you want to keep improving more consider getting some lessons. Have fun!

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