My question is regarding the things which can decide your vocal range and how people's vocal ranges are different from each other and also if there are patterns like race, language, etc. which can affect people's vocal range.

I'm personally a baritone and I currently live in Iran, a country in the middle east. The city in which I live has a dry weather and not much raining (+pollution), also my dad is a baritone. Well, some of my friends who live in a city other than the place I live, a city in the north, all are tenors, can sing very high notes. I've also heard from my coach, most of males in my country are tenor!

I was wondering if living in a country can typically be a sign for a singing expert to estimate your vocal range or not! Can vocal range of people generally be related to race, weather conditions, altitude or anything else like a language? For instance, if your mother is Chinese will it affect your vocal range to be different to someone who speaks French? Do words and the way they're produced by human beings affect the vocal range of people generally? What are things which decide one's voice range?

4 Answers 4


This is a very interesting question! I would never expect an expert to try to guess someone's vocal range simply based on their ethnic heritage, but it's true that some trends do persist just like any other physical characteristic does along cultural-biological lines. For example, the term "Russian bass" has been used to refer to Eastern-European basses with incredibly extended low range--down to A1 (55 Hz)!

That's not to say that everyone from Russia is a bass, of course--but the term did get coined based on someone's experiences with basses from Russia.

A more important thing to watch out for are cultural constructions and misinformation about vocal range. It's very popular in the United States to have a low voice, which is why every little boy wants to sing bass the moment his voice changes in middle school. My high school choir's male complement had far more basses than tenors, when in truth it should have been the other way around. The problem was that everyone wanted to sing bass and no one knew how to sing with proper technique. I in fact thought I was a baritone for many years until I finally met a good voice teacher who set me straight, and now I sing tenor. This brings me to my final point:

Baritone, tenor, bass, mezzo, alto, etc. really refer to voice types, NOT to vocal range! When I was in high school, I sang bass because I could sing low, and I couldn't sing high for very long without tiring myself out. After studying with a professional, he identified my voice type as tenor, and learning proper production techniques allowed me to sing higher and with less difficulty.

Your point about language tendencies would fall under the category of cultural constructions, as far as I'm concerned. It could have some impact on what registers you're more comfortable with, but as far as I'm concerned, your true voice type is defined entirely by your genetics.

  • You've made a good point that many people choose to sing in a register other than their true physiological register out of ignorance or lack of training. I'd point out further that every individual has a true vocal singing range, determined by physiology, but the vast majority of people don't really sing and never get any vocal training, so they have no awareness of what kind of singing voice they possess.
    – user1044
    Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 6:35
  • Well, your answer contains a lot of important points!
    – Manoochehr
    Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 8:10
  • It's very popular in the United States to have a low voice, which is why every little boy wants to sing bass the moment his voice changes in middle school. This is very interesting but sounds convincing too! I myself wanted to be a tenor, because of tenors being more usually found in the public and media (e.g. in popular music it is almost certain to find a tenor singer very easily, not so easy to find a bass pop singer), until I found a good teacher who found out I was a bass. After that I have grown to like my (own!) voice very much and would not like to change it to tenor, which I am not.
    – jeppoo1
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 9:49

While this is an interesting question that you have asked, to the best of my knowledge there are no such factors at all. It is entirely a matter of the genetically-predetermined physiology of the vocal tract in an adult. Some men are born to be tenors, some baritones, some basses (relatively few). Some women are born to be coloratura sopranos (very few), some lyric sopranos, some mezzo-sopranos, some contralto (very few). I am not aware that anyone has identified any cultural or environmental factors which influence any of these, anywhere, at any time. As far as I know, all races have the same distribution of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses in their populations. I have never heard of anyone demonstrating otherwise.

  • 1
    Well, thanks Wheat. This was very important remark that all races have the same distribution of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses in their populations. I'm actually posting my question to be sure about this.
    – Manoochehr
    Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 8:08
  • 1
    All that I am saying is that I've never heard of any research that indicates anything to the contrary. I could be wrong. Perhaps this is something that should receive scientific study.
    – user1044
    Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 15:16

The things that determine voice type are:

1) Range (to some extent, but this is not exact and expands with training, i.e., good breath support, etc.) 2) Tessitura: that is, the range of notes where the most beautiful tone is produced 3) Timbre (specifically, the location of the vocal formants, but this will be audible to a singing teacher more as tone quality -- dark, light, etc.) 4) Location of the passagio, commonly called the "break". This can be detected as the sensation of resonance moving from, say, the chest to the head as you go from low to high, and significant change in timbre as one crosses until technique is developed to blend the registers more.

As per 3 and 4, higher voice types will have higher formants and passagi.

Realistically, voice type is associated with singer certain operatic roles and song literature. A lighter, more agile voice will obviously sing different literature than a booming Wagnerian.

For a basic discussion, consult Barbara Doscher, The Functional Unity of the Singing Voice. Especially in terms of passagio, I found reading Richard Miller's Training Tenor Voices to be very helpful, but he has some other books you may find useful depending on your basic type.


The closest example I've found is, rather trivially, that women tend to have higher voices than men.

There really aren't any supported conclusions about this kind of stuff in the music world, as far as I'm aware. Great question, though. Perhaps you'll be the first to discover a correlation!

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