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Final Countdown Vocal Range

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Ad Astra
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Question: what is the high note in this song? Check out 4:37 in this video:

The first 3 notes of the variation on "It's the final countdown" - sounds like a C#5 to me, but all the sheet music I find claims it's a C#6...which is pretty inhuman for a male voice, right? Then again, Joey Tempest really does look like a chick...

Help me Obi-Wan!

- A Guitarist

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I can explain your confusion. Yes, the actual note is in the singer's 5th octave, so it is a C#5. The discrepancy is how music is written. Melodies are often written in the treble clef. It may look like a C#6 on paper, but not IRL.

I have always viewed the c-note between the lines of b and d in the treble clef as C4. But that's a habit from when I was transcribing classical guitar music from sheet music to tablature form and sheet music specifically written for guitar, such as my favorite pieces by Corelli and Damas-Tarrega were written using that c between the b and d lines in the treble clef as what we singer's commonly know as C4, which corresponds to the second string, first fret, on a guitar.

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Thanks for the explanation! Still I'm a little unclear. I mean, middle C is C4, so how is that not just one ledger line below the E on a treble clef? Are you saying that most (or all?) vocal melodies are written "an octave up," so to speak? And if so is there a reason for this?

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There is a reason, I just can't remember right now. But you really encounter it in sight-singing practice.

The clefs, both treble and bass, are most commonly used for writing music for piano. And a number of composers would simply use the same notation for vocal melodies and write in an instruction for the singer, depending his/her fach. Guitar-wise, C below the E line on the treble clef is C3 in the singer's octaves.

So, take the sheet music and assume you are transposing one octave lower than what it looks like.

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Got it. Thank you for your helpful and insightful response!

Ad Astra: Its C#5.

As to the notation, when a tenor part is written in the treble cleff all by itself, middle C is written on the 3rd space. Very often, the written music will also have an 8 beneath the treble clef, to indicate that the notes are written 1 octave higher than sung.

We see that all the time in choral music, opera scores, and also in classical guitar music. For all those, C5 is notated 2 ledger lines above the treble cleff. For notes higher in the treble range, but intended for tenor, additional ledger lines are used. The highest written for operatic tenor literature in this fashion is G5.

Hopefully helpful....

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Ad Astra: Its C#5.....

I'm guessing it makes sense to write the vocal melodies as such to make the piece more easily readable (by avoiding the use of a large amount of ledger lines on the low end). Thanks for the additional info!

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, "Very often, the written music will also have an 8 beneath the treble clef, to indicate that the notes are written 1 octave higher than sung."

... Within choral (and well written sheet), I agree as it is common to see 8va or 8vb (or 8) and I would fully expect C4 to be FA C <- here with a 8vb (or an 8 below defined on the clef) ...

However (and I had this conversation with Jonpall about a year ago), is that a lot of the (pop) sheet written music (i.e. the conversation with JP - I had Warner Bros. Publications Inc - which didn't have any ottava bassa or "at the octave below." which stemmed to which G was sung conversation),

So yes Ad. I've think you've got the concept anyway. :)

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We will also be attempting to cover this, and thanks to the knowledge drop I know it's definitely within my singer's range (he is very talented but not classically trained so he doesn't know much theory). Would love to hear your version if it comes out well!

Also I had always wondered about the 8va/8vb notation because I see it a lot but never knew what it meant. Thanks again.

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as we all start humming the opening melody....reminds of that commercial where everyone in the car are humming various parts to 'Crazy Train"...

Yeah, it's a rip-off of that movie where the family is driving some where and they do an a capella version of "Sweet Child of Mine."

I can't remember the name of the movie, though.

There are two signs of old age.

First, loss of memory.

Second ..... second .... second ....

oh, sheesh ...

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