Voice classification is essentially the process by which your singing voice is evaluated in terms of its qualities and characteristics so as to determine what type of voice you have. Although there is no real system in place for non-classical singers, it is worth assessing your voice so that your experience of learning how to sing is as effective and efficient as possible.
What factors can determine my voice?
So how can you determine your singing voice type? Well, there are actually a few factors that can affect it, including the following:
Age – It is advisable to wait until you have finished growing to determine your voice type because both speaking and singing alternatives change with age. As such, age is a factor in determining your voice type. In many cases a voice may deepen or take on an entirely new tone so you should assess it regularly.
Range – The range of notes you can hit, from the lowest to the highest, is important in determining your voice type. For example, a mezzo's range is lower than a soprano but a bass is lower than a tenor. Of course, as you become more experienced your range may expand.
Register – A register is a series of notes that are adjacent to each other and are produced by the same muscles but have different tones. Finally sounding similar, it the way in which your body produces these notes that determines your voice type.
Tone – The tone of your voice, or tonal quality and color, determines your voice type because it impacts upon the way it sounds. Tone must be used in conjunction with the other points here though.
Strength – The strength in different area of the voice determinates type. For example, if you have a stronger head voice then you are likely to be classed as a tenor whereas if you have a stronger middle voice you are more like to be classed as a bass.
The different types of voice
You may have noticed that certain types of voice have been mentioned in the previous passage – mezzo, soprano, tenor and so on. When you use the five factors, you will find that you fit into one of four voice types. For females, these types are soprano, mezzo, alto and contralto and for males they are countertenor, tenor, baritone and bass. The soprano and countertenor are the highest and the contralto and bass are the lowest. Each type is also split into several subtypes to further classify your voice depending on tone, register and strength.
How to discover your voice type
Now you know exactly what types of voice there are and what affects them, you have to know how to figure out your own voice type. There are numerous exercises you can use to do just that and a few of them are listed below for you:
- Sing your scales. Use a piano or other instrument to see how high and low you can sing. Your highest note and lowest note will determine what type your voice actually is.
- Choose a song and record yourself. When you listen back, make notes as to where the strength lies in your voice. This will indicate what your voice type is.
- Sing a slow passage then a fast passage. Pinpoint which is easier for you and which you enjoy the most and that will also help you to identify voice type.