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Since every voice is different and bridges/tessitura are in different areas can any piece be transposed to fit any voice type? If you have tenor singer "X" who alternates between head and chest voice a lot in a song and want to transpose it for bass singer "Y", you could just lower the piece sung by "X" to suit singer "Y" but will his bridges and tessitura all be the same relative to each other once the piece is transposed? I read that a bass singer has a wider "chest" voice range than a tenor but that a tenor has a much stronger head voice than a bass. If all this is true then wouldn't transposing be impossible since once the piece was low enough for the bass singer "Y" the head voice notes might be too low.

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It's very dependant on a singer's range, and where the break point comes - everyone is different.

Changing the key will work for most songs, as most songs do not have a huge range - an octave and a half covers an awful lot of songs. The tessitura - the part where more notes of high or low pitch are found will confound some singers, but in a song with, say, a high tessitura, it may well be possible to drop the whole song some more.

So, by and large, yes, most songs can be transposed to fit most voices. The bigger problem that occurs is that when more than one singer is singing the same song, either in unison and especially in harmony. Occasionally in a situation where, say, four singers do this, the key may not suit all four. At that point, a harmony may need to be changed, someone is tacit for a few lines, and fun is had finding what is a compromise of key!

  • Thanks! You are right that 1 and a half octaves goes a long way but the problem is singing head and chest voice in a vocal line. I was working on a song the other day that was consistently flipping between head and chest voice and I found that if I sang in the original key, I could sing the head voice notes fine but then the chest notes were too strained and too high. I dropped the key so that my chest voice was comfortable but then the head voice was too low. I might as well sing the whole thing in chest voice because it sounded better. – armani Feb 11 '18 at 12:35
  • For songs with instrumental, especially piano, accompaniment, there are some other problems. The most important one is that for large transpositions (like more than a fifth), the sound of the accompaniment may change too much (by sounding muddy or tinny perhaps.) Often this can be handled by using different inversions of the associated chords but the bass line may still be a problem. – ttw Feb 11 '18 at 20:55

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