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  • Chris Anderson

Music Revision - Instruments - Voice

Yes, your voice is an instrument. It is important that you’re able to identify what the different voices sound like - and what they’re called.



Adult Voices

In a vocal score, for choir, there will be four voices written for, but there are a couple of sub-categories. The score is written for SATB - that is to say Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass.




Soprano - The highest female voice. Goes from Middle C to the C two octaves higher. However, some singers will be able to go beyond that range a little.

Soprano Range

Alto - The lowest female voice. Goes from F below middle C and the F two octaves higher. Again, some singers will be able to go beyond that, and not all will be able to go as high or low!


Alto Range

Tenor - The highest male voice. Their average range is from B and octave below Middle C to A above Middle C. The tenor part is written in bass clef at pitch, or sometimes in treble clef an octave higher than it sounds. This is shown with a little '8' under the treble clef sign. (A little 8 above means it sounds an octave higher).


Tenor Range

Bass - The lowest male voice. Their average range is from E on the first ledger line of the bass clef, up to Middle C.


Bass Range

The “subcategories” (my own term) are:


Mezzo-Soprano - It is rare that you’ll see this actually scored. They are able to sing the top part of the Alto and the bottom part of the Soprano. Some singers identify as mezzo-soprano because they can’t reach the high soprano part or low alto part.


Baritone - It is rare that you’ll see this actually scored. They are able to sing the top part of the Bass and the bottom part of the Tenor. Some singers identify as Baritone because they can’t reach the high tenor part or low bass part.


Countertenor - These used to be quite popular but are quite rare now. A Countertenor is a male voice sining in the female range.


Children’s Voices

Kids only have two voices.


A high kids voice is treble. They sing the same notes as the soprano.

A low kids voice is alto. They sing the same notes as the alto.


As a girl gets older their voice doesn’t usually change much.

As a boy gets older and goes through puberty, their voice changes and drops about an octave. The voice changes due to the larynx getting bigger and thicker. I try to avoid the term that the voice is breaking…nothing is breaking! It’s changing!


Groups

As I mentioned earlier a group of singers is called a choir. But even this can have various sub-categories.


Mixed Voice Choir - This is the traditional SATB choir.

Male Voice Choir - A mixture of male voices. Usually TTBB.

Female Voice Choir - A mixture of female voices. Usually SSAA.

All Male Voice Choir - A bigger mixture of male voices that includes younger male voices (Trebles and Altos). Technically the voices sound like SATB.

A Capella - When a choir sings with no instrumental accompaniment, it’s called a cappella. A cappella literally means for the chapel. With the development of apps, people are able to produce their own a cappella videos on their own. Here are a couple of my favourites. The Muppets and The Pentatonix




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