It may seem like something all singers and actors should know, but many people don’t know their range.
What is my vocal range?
Your vocal range is what you can sing in performance and comfortably sing every day (not what you warm up to).
If you’re a tenor with an occasional high C in warmups but don’t feel comfortable singing a C in a song and don’t have it anywhere in your repertoire, your range does not go up to a C.
Your range is also an extension of your type. For example, many women have soprano instruments—their voices break where sopranos break and they warm up to high Ds. But let’s say they get hired more often to play mezzo-soprano character roles than starring soprano roles—then it might make sense for them to market themselves as mezzo-sopranos when it comes to range.
This is, of course, at the actor’s discretion—but in general, it’s a good idea if your written vocal type reflects the kinds of roles you get hired to play.
How to determine your vocal range
Ask a professional: The easiest way to determine your vocal range is to consult your voice teacher. They can offer invaluable input on your range and what makes the most sense for you to list on your résumé.
Or follow the process discussed in our comprehensive guide to vocal ranges and voice types:
Figuring out your vocal range is a matter of testing how low and high you can sing. After doing a comprehensive warmup, find your range in the following ways:
Find your vocal range manually: You can discover your vocal range by testing it against a piano, keyboard, or digital instrument.
- Find middle C (C4), the closest C to the exact middle of the keyboard. On an 88-key piano, middle C is the fourth C from the left end of the keyboard.
- Once you’ve found middle C, trace the keys downward and sing along with an “ah” until you hit your lowest comfortable note.
- Then do the same but follow the keys upward until you hit your highest comfortable note.
- The lowest and highest notes provide the parameters of your vocal range.
How do I write my vocal range on a résumé?
Now that you know your range, you need to list it on your résumé. Make sure it’s at the very top of the page in the header, justified either to the left or right, along with contact information for you and your agent, like so:
Your range is usually listed in two parts:
- A description of your voice (Lyric Baritone, Mezzo-Soprano/Belter, High Rock Tenor, etc). These descriptions should be short, sweet, and clear—and no more than two or three words.
- Your exact range, listed from your lowest to highest notes, in parentheses. To be clear about the specific notes you can reach, use the following numbering system, called scientific pitch notation:
Each C, starting with the lowest C on the keyboard three keys up from the bottom, is assigned a number. The lowest C is C1, the next is C2, and then up through the highest, which is C8. Middle C is C4. The notes in between each C are assigned the number of the C below it (for example, the F above middle C4 is F4 and the A above C5 is A5).
The vast majority of vocal ranges fall somewhere between C2 and F6 (the F above the high soprano C6).
Discovering how much overlap there is between vocal ranges often surprises singers. In fact, the three notes below middle C (A3–C4) are a part of every voice type, male or female.
Here’s a list of sample ranges and how they’re written:
- Bass: E2–D4
- Baritone: F2–G4
- Alto/Contralto: D3–G5
- Mezzo-Soprano: E3–Bb5
- Soprano: G3–C6
- Coloratura Soprano: G3–E6
Now go forth and update that résumé!
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.