“Music is the greatest communication in the world. Even if people don't understand the language that you're singing in, they still know good music when they hear it.” - Lou Rawls
Music and singing are universal disciplines. After just a few lessons, the world of music will be within your reach!
Most people sing regularly. However, not everybody knows how to sing. After all, your voice type will dictate the types of songs you should choose.
So how do you know what your voice is capable of? What songs work with each voice type?
In this article, we're going to see what tessitura is, how you can practice according to your voice type, how a singing teacher can help you get the most out of your voice type, the songs you should be choosing, and the most common voice types.
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What Is Tessitura?
We all have our favourite songs and artists. However, our favourite artists aren’t the best resources for getting your voice right.
This is all down to tessitura, which refers to your voice type and the range of notes you can hit. Once you’re outside of your range, you’ll struggle to regularly hit these notes. You don’t need to repeatedly sing Mariah Carey songs.
For women, there are four main tessiture:
- Contralto. The deepest range.
- Alto. Slightly higher but still a deep range.
- Mezzo-soprano. The deeper of the two high ranges.
- Soprano. The high range and the most common female voice.
For men, there are also four main types of voice:
- Bass. The deepest male range.
- Baritone. The higher of the two deeper ranges and also the most common.
- Tenors. The lower of the higher chest voices.
- Countertenors. The highest range of male voices.
Whether you’re a man or a woman, an amateur or a professional, you need to know what type of voice you have. Imagine getting ready for a concert with a list of songs that are outside of your vocal range. If you like a particular song but it isn’t in your tessitura, you’ll struggle to master it.
Practise Singing According to Your Voice Type
Of course, practice makes perfect and regularly singing songs for your voice type will help you to improve. With a bit of practice, you’ll see that there are songs suited for different voice types and start to see the different registers.
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- The natural voice is also known as your chest voice.
- Passagio is the bridge between the two main registers.
- Finally, there’s the higher register which is known as “falsetto” for men and “head voice” for women.
These three registers aren’t technically different ways to sing but rather vocal techniques with particular timbres. You’ll need to try out the various registers. We can all sing, but we can’t all sing in tune and breathe correctly when we sing.
Learning About Voice Type from a Singing Teacher
The perfect solution is to have a second set of ears. After a few sessions, a singing teacher will be able to tell you what type of voice you have and the type of singing and register you should adopt. Be it a ballad, heavy metal, or opera, there are plenty of genres to sink your teeth into.
On Superprof, you can find qualified and experienced private tutors to help you with musicality and singing, analysing your voice, and finding where it lies in the range of voice types.
They’ll also work out the type of singing that’ll work for you. It’s pretty simple.
What Type of Song Should You Choose if You Can’t Hit the Notes?
“If everyone started off the day singing, just think how happy they'd be.” - Lauren Myracle
Everyone can struggle to hit a note. Every voice can hit all the notes within its range. You just need to be able to harmonise with any given note within your range.
You need to learn how to use your larynx, articulate your vowels and consonants correctly, and manage your stress. With the help of singing exercises and a teacher, you’ll soon start mastering your voice.
From there, you’ll start asking about register and key when you start to become aware of your strengths and weaknesses. A singer with a higher tessitura can’t sing songs for a lower voice type.
Your repertoire should reflect your voice type and include artists with the same voice type. Training is key to mastering your voice type.
Imagine taking your stabilisers off for the first time. You need to go for it.
Common Types of Voice
For some, having a certain voice type will limit the songs they can sing.
Firstly, whether you’re a man or a woman will already dictate which songs you can and can’t sing due to the range of notes. Baritones and tenors (for men) and altos and mezzo-sopranos (for women) tend to have the advantage of a larger range when it comes to singing.
We can’t promise that you’ll be singing operas but you’ll feel more comfortable with most songs. You don’t want to feel threatened by a song, after all.
Similarly, the extreme ends of the spectrum will struggle with songs designed for the other end. A bass will struggle singing something for a tenor, for example. Whereas baritones and tenors should be more comfortable with it. The idea is to learn what you’re capable of and don’t set unreachable goals.
You also need to ensure that singing remains enjoyable. If it isn’t and your vocal cords are tired and you’re struggling with your breathing, you might need to change to a different song.
In short, your voice is your instrument and you need to take care of it. Getting help from a voice coach or tutor is always a good idea. We can all sing as long as we respect our voices. While butchering a song is bad, butchering your vocal cords is even worse!
The rest is up to you!
Each voice range is different and just because you can't hit certain high notes, it doesn't mean that you can't become a great operatic singer. With a bit of vocal training and guidance from a voice teacher, you'll see which songs and pieces work well with certain vocal ranges.
You can also learn more about registers from a singing coach or tutor. They can even show you artists with the same tessitura as you. Again, a tutor can help you work out the best repertoire. If you'd like to learn more about singing, consider getting help from one of the talented tutors on Superprof. There are three main types of singing tutorial and voice coaching and each type has several advantages and disadvantages so what's right for one student may not be right for another.
In face-to-face tutorials, there's just you and the tutor. This means that the tutor can focus on helping you to improve your voice and will put together a bespoke programme for you to follow. These are usually the most costly type of private tutorials since you're paying for all the tutor's time both in and out of class but they're also the most cost-effective.
There are also online tutorials where the student is taught via webcam. With the tutor not having to travel to their lessons and being able to schedule more lessons per week, these tend to cost less per hour than face-to-face tutorials. Since the tutor isn't in the room there with you, these tutorials are better for academic subjects rather than vocational ones. If you both have a good microphone and a good internet connection, online tutorials are a great option for those wanting to learn to sing on a budget.
Finally, there are also tutors offering group tutorials. If you and a group of friends are interested in learning how to sing, you could hire a tutor together and divide the cost of the tutor's time. Of course, you won't get as much individual attention from your singing coach as you would in the other types of tutorials but you will pay less per hour per student.
No matter which type of singing coach you go for, they'll be able to help you work out your voice type, plan lessons that can help you improve your voice, and suggest songs and activities that work best with your tessitura.
Learn more about male voice types here.