I have been really frustrated for the characteristics of my voice. I have a very light, metallic timbre in it that gets a little warm the higher I sing, but I cannot reach even a Eb4 without straining A LOT.

While the lower register is there (it's consistent) when I get lower than A2 I lose all the resonance and it becomes very airy and weak. After doing research and reading a lot I conclude that for the color and weight of my voice I must be some kind of tenor, but the passagio (I know there is two of them) does not fit with the extremes of my range.

I have never heard of a tenor that strains in Eb4 like I do, it is just impossible to me sing that without strain and change to head. I personally think that it may be the strain in my neck that does not let me go higher, because all muscles just get harder and it feels so uncomfortable.

I was in a choir in November/December last year, and the teacher seems to be so confused about me like I did (and still do). After checking my range and make me sing scales he says: "Yes, you are a tenor". And then he press the E4 key and make sing it, it sounded horrible obviously, and he says: "You should be able to sing there"... But I can't. He never answered my questions, and I was worried about making him get angry.


2 Answers 2


Okay, there are a few things to unpack here:

Your age.

The voice doesn’t really mature until people are in their 30’s, and will continue to mature as they age. One of the biggest issues with young vocalists is that they see and hear so much garbage out there and attempt to sing far beyond their vocal maturity. If you are younger than your 30’s then your voice has much growing up to do. Be nice to your voice and don’t try and make it do things it’s not ready to do.

Your vocal fache.

Tenors I know do not have a problem with Eb4. If you’re straining to reach it then you shouldn’t be counting it in your range. Trained vocalists only count notes that resonate and respond comfortably. Ergo, your range is likely smaller than A2-Eb4. Trained vocalists have at minimum a two-octave range at their disposal. Your described range suggests to me that your voice is not trained, and more specifically, you seem like an untrained baritone, which is the most common voice type for men.

There are multiple types of each vocal fache; a friend of mine is a lighter baritone and because of that, he specializes in Baroque / early music, which needs a lighter voice.

Last, it’s important to remember that vocal ranges aren’t set in stone. Not all baritones, tenors, etc are the same. Do not worry if you don’t fit into a specific box. Things change over time. A friend of mine started as a mezzo soprano, but after years of training she now sings as a coloratura soprano. It is likely that your voice will change as you mature as well.

Your vocabulary.

This is a small but important one. “Tessitura” is not the overall range of notes you are capable of producing, but the most-often used region of pitches along a variable continuum (which in this case is the voice).

The “passagio” typically lies toward the upper-center of the voice; though it’s different for everyone.

Your technique.

The straining you describe is most definitely affecting your ability to resonate and therefore vocalize. Singers spend a significant amount of time learning about the various vocal mechanisms and how to relax them in order to increase resonance. Singing should be a big, effortless thing; if you’re straining, you’re working too hard.

Good luck.


My advice, and I know that it's not quite proper to answer your question, since you never technically asked one;

Listen to David Bowie. His voice was similarly thin, and oddly stuck between this range or that. He affected a low, affable speaking voice, and there was no small amount of cigarette smoke in his plumbing.

Bowie was a fan of several techniques. One, he would double-track his own voice with one track in the lower register, and the other at the exact higher octave. Two, when he went low, he was overly-emotive and tremulous.

Oh, and he was also an impressionist. He was an actor. He emoted something that sounded like something or somebody that pleased him, and he BECAME that.

Listen to the man, and see if there is wisdom in there for you.

Maybe it's best that you don't fall into any comfortable category of voice type. You may well just forge your own way.

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