Record holder Axl Rose from Guns ‘n’ Roses has an unbelievable vocal range of almost 6 octaves. According to a research published at concerthallls.com, his lowest note is a F2 (“There was a time”), his highest a Bb6 (“Ain’t it fun”).
Not much surprisingly, Diva Mariah Carey comes first in female singers with a 5 octave singing range (F2-G7).
The Vocal Ranges of the Greatest Singers. (via ConcertHotels.com).
On average, the human voice spans something between 2 and 3 octaves. But what does that all mean and how important is it really?
In this article, I’ll answer these questions and give some ideas how to increase vocal range and boost your singing.
Vocal Range Is Probably Not What you Thought
When I started learning more about singing and the human voice, I did a lot of research. So I came across the topic of vocal range pretty soon. Nevertheless, I found out that most people define the range of once voice as the span between the lowest and the highest note that can be sung.
That’s why the people who do these examinations reference the songs, they noted it. What I learned is, that you don’t have to be able to actually sing a very high note to count it to your vocal range.
I know that’s only theoretical stuff, but let us put it in the right perspective. Technically, a tone is produced when your vocal chords close. Therefore, every single note, where your chords still close, even if it’s barely hearable are withing your range. Got it?
If you are a well-trained singer, you are able to sustain this tiny sound and get a full sound out of it.
If you apply this to the real world, much more singers would have a wider range. The only difference between them and the top range singers is, that singers like Axl or Mariah somehow manage to sing it out loudly.
Bearing this in mind, it’s time to find out about your own range.
Do You Know Your Range?
How deep can you get and what’s your highest note?
Let’s find out about this, follow my lead.
2. Now we want to see, what your lowest note is. Males start at C3, females at C4. Choose a close vowel, like an “e” to sing. In a very relaxed way, try to go down one half step and proceed until you can’t get any lower. Don’t try to push or cramp for the last note.
3. After that, again start at C3 or C4 respectively and go up. Don’t force your voice to stay in chest. When you flip into head voice or falsetto, that’s okay and it will happen anyways at some point of the scale. Now, here’s a tip: When you’re approaching the highest notes, don’t think about how it sounds.
Only notice, if you still can here a tone. That means, your vocal chords close. You’ll reach a point where despite trying to sing a note, all you will hear is blowing air.
4. Now, count the octaves on the virtual piano from your lowest to your highest note. Here you are: That’s your current vocal range. (e.g. G2-A5 would be 3 octaves).
Best Exercises To Increase Vocal Range
The big question is, how you can increase your range?
First of all, we have to be aware that every voice has its natural limits due to the size and thickness of someone’s vocal chords. A tenor will never be able to reach low notes as a bass and a bass will most likely never experience singing a high C.
After you’ve done your range examination, you will have a feeling of what kind of voice you have. Nevertheless, the goal is to sing to your full potential.
Like already laid out in my article 4 Ways to improve your singing voice, there are certain elements you should always work on these
1. Breathing exercises first. Check out my article, that explains the best 3 breathing exercises I know in detail. Once you’ve got them down, you don’t have to worry about breathing anymore.
2. The right voice placement. This the point, where all of your sound production should start and the anchor of your whole singing. You should always produce your sound in your nose (nasal sound). That’s totally different from singing from your throat. It will give you so much more freedom and will expand your lower register to 2-3 additional notes. It’s the place some refer to as “singing in the mask”. The easiest way to find it is to imitate a robot. Right there, where this buzzing sound appears is where you should base your singing on.
3. Stretching your palate: The anti pole to your nasal anchor is your palate. The higher you go, the more space will be required. Opening up by stretching your palate will provide the additional room. A 3-note ascending scale with thirds on an open vowel like “o” will train your body and especially your palate to stretch. I call it the Krah-Krah-Krah exercise, which is extremely effective. Start your first Krah at the back of your throat and go even further back with every following note. The feeling is, that you’re actually singing outside your body. With some training, this exercise will easily add 3-4 high notes to your range.
4. Relax: The more relaxed you can keep when singing, the more easily super low and high notes will appear (note: you can’t make them!).
Don’t Impress Others – Express Yourself
Honestly, as scientifically interesting it is to know about extraordinary vocal ranges as boring it is at the same time. We’re not here to win a high note-low note-contest, neither does it tell anything about the quality of the voice or the music itself.
If you are not bound to any given standards, like in opera, anything goes. Just turn on the radio and you’ll instantly discover all kind of singers. High voices, low voices, wide range, narrow range.
Do you as a listener- really care about range or do you just like the song or not? What I try to say is, don’t focus too hard on your vocal range. It’s just one aspect of your vocal skills.
On the other hand, you can use your vocal range to express yourself and make a song more interesting. Believe me, it’s not about demonstrating 4 octaves, even if you can sing through 2,5 octaves can tremendously serve your music.
Starting relatively low at F#2 and later going up to A5, singer David Draiman not only shows some good singing skills, but also building up the song’s excitement perfectly.
The vocal range is one piece of a singer’s toolkit. While some supernatural singers have a range of 5-6 octaves, you can work perfectly fine with a solid 3 octaves voice.
The key to unlocking the full potential of your natural given voice is to learn proper breathing, followed by carrying the notes on a constant airflow.
The proper voice placement, which is best experienced by a buzzing sound in the area around your nose, will release tensions in your throat and give you the freedom to sing much more relaxed.
Finally, the ability to open up – achieved by stretching your palate- enables the really high notes to kick in.
Needless to say, it takes training and some amount of time to master these things. However, you can be sure, to see first results pretty quickly.
Try it out, work on it and unlock your hidden potential.
I hope you find the stuff useful. Please leave me a comment and share your experiences, progress or thoughts.