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Fachs Tessitura and Resonance

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Felipe Carvalho

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Fachs – When, How and Why

Since surprisingly there is such concern with fachs around, lets talk a bit about it. Hopefully this should solve doubts regarding it.

First of all. Fachs are descriptions of REQUIREMENTS that must be met by a voice to perform a certain role. So you train to fit one, not the other way around.

Nobody is born a tenor or a baritone. Nobody is born a bass.

Of course, a natural quality that is deeper or higher will have afinity with one or another line of trainning, but this quality can only be perceived after emission is ajusted, relaxed and placed forward and on focus.

Without forward placement and with tensions, things that an untrainned voice WILL have, no matter how well you mimic others, no matter how well you think you mimic Pavarotti sound, you simply dont know it.

And even after you do have the trainning, nothing prevents you of using a more spoken posture, which is something that ALL pop singers do, with the exception of singers like Bocceli (and even him uses a posture that is not a full application of technique). If you go outside the technical demmands, then it all loses meanning. Consistency does not have to come through full technical application, even if you train using the classical technique you wont use full application and sing arias if thats not what you want.

Will you have limits to what you can do? Of course. Voices are different. But these limits will depend on the choices you do. If you dont use a lot of power on the middle of your voice, you can go higher and lower without compromising tonal consistency. For pop singing, mezzo is more than enough, on some points mezzo-forte. Its loud as yelling to someone that is far, hardly you need more than this on a mic.

Each voice needs to be addressed individually and trying to look at what other artists “sounds” are like to apply on your own voice will lead to all sorts of mistakes. Focal ajustment confers weight and depth to the character without overdarkenning the voice. Two similar voices, one with a defined and closed focal ajustment and another usi mng a more spread posture will sound completely different. Both can be pleasant and not necessarily imply on more or less skill, but the one with more focus will have more depth due to the use of resonance. And this without even darkening on purpose.

A person using a tense chest voice, tongue tensions and a forced low larynx will sound deep. And its the normal state all light voices generaly begin.

Then there is tessitura. Tessitura is a part of the usefull range, without fry and without falsetto, a part of M1, a sweet spot within it where you have complete control over dynamic range and resonance, its where you have both potential for power and softness, keeping quality of the vowels and without strain.

Most will have 2 octaves, some more, some less. And this is A LOT as it includes head resonance as part of it. Head resonance will have at least 8 semitones of fully controllable voice using exactly the same registration on the larynx. And you will have to train it on at least one octave to make these 8 semitones completely stable.

Takes time, takes a lot of trainning and alone the chances of stumbling into what is expected from these types of voices is nearly zero. IF its something desirable at all, since most here, including myself are not into becomming classical singers.

So what is it that you want? And exactly what are you doing to get there besides conjectures? Thats all there is to it.

Orientation and trainning. The first step to any voice is ajusting emission and bringing it forward, specially if you are struggling with baritone/bass self images.

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Cool article :)

I'm not sure I understand this:

A person using a tense chest voice, tongue tensions and a forced low larynx will sound deep. And its the normal state all light voices generaly begin.

Are you saying that people with light voices tend to try to sound 'bigger' or 'more manly', thus creating tensions?


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About limits, affinity and goals:

We have limits, its obvious, nobody here is a super human I assume. And our voices have points of strenght just as well.

Also we have our goals in mind, what we want to do.

So what the hell does it all means?

Well if you are a light voice, and you are looking for orientation to sing material that is deep, want to sing Old Man River and similar stuff in the original key, well, its the job of your teacher/coach to tell you that its not a very reasonable idea.


Because you will sacrifice all the qualities of your voice and try to work only with weakness, its choosing to go into a way where you will have a really really hard time to succeed delivering quality, a lot of frustration and with results that hardly will satisfy you in the end.

Will you be able to sing it? Dunno, probably. Will it be ok to listen? Probably. Will you be proud of your work, hardly.

Same goes on the other way around. A heavy voice, deep or not, that wants to sing only light material, mellow and soft, with lots of quick runs that demands a lot of agility. Can you train it? Yeah, sure thing. Can you deliver it? Most probably. Still you will be sacrificing your strenghts to do so, and you will always be against a wall of high demand of conditioning. If you get sick for example, what happens, cancel the show?

Note that I am talking here about extremes and trainned states, not something like “you will never sing rock”, or you will never sing “high” or “low”.

My voice is a bit heavy, although not deep at all, which ARE different things and do have influence on the tessitura, but most importantly, has a very different outcome on the tonal character and has restrictions regarding agility.

One thing is to learn and study light and high songs, they are awesome as a study and they hit exactly on the weakness, which is agility.

Another is deciding that starting from tomorrow I will just sing high and light stuff. It makes no sense. I will never “sound like” Sebastian Bach, my voice is very different from that. Yet I do intend to sing material from Skid Row in a decent way.

One thing is trainning and exploring flexibility and versatility, developing control, which will improve quality on everything you do, no doubts about it.

Another completely different thing is going against your strenghts in an attempt to sound like something else. INO a deliberate attempt to make your life harder without any solid reason for that.

All styles can be worked in any kind of voice. Some choices maybe wiser or not. If you want to sing low notes, sacrifice a bit of projection, a mic and a compŕessor can work wonders.

But the core of the trainning will always be on the midle of the range, and everything else will be just as good as your capability in there, no more, no less.

And yet it is possible if you condition yourself really well, after well trainned, to perform stuff outside the comfort margin as long as you keep in mind that you ARE doing something that will demand more and that requires your attention to not cause problems.

A large repertoire of varied kinds of music, where a few are more demanding, awesome, just keep it under control, aim for comfort and there you are. But if you are gonna do a whole repertoire with everything going against you, then its a bit more complicated to handle and then the "know your limits part" really weights.

Measuring tessitura based just on usefull range without understanding exactly where your voice stands is exactly the problem that Jens described with the coachs he went to. Take any light voice before trainning, all tense and squeezed, and yeah, there will be 2 octaves of consistency. The problem is, consistency of what? :P

Dont fall on the same trap, as it will limit everything and place a barrier on your possible progress, because without ajusting emission, head resonance is simply not possible.

My voice, before beginning to train, had a usefull range from E2 to E4, due to the heavyness and all the darkenning I used at the tame, plus tensions, it sounded deep. Deep and dull, but deep. A dude from a choir said I was a bass, and well, I was inclined to believe it. Made sense... If it werent for the detail that my voice was totally weak and untrainned. And yeah, I could sing a few songs, my E4 would sound super explosive end of the voice style. A scream, sounded strong, but was weak.

Respecting and knowing limits is not a reasonable justification for problems on the mid of the voice. Braking when you dont want to brake is simply a problem with emission ajustment/support/resonance. And yeah, the middle of the voice will be a mess until its well trainned, its like that with everyone, light or deep, it does not matter. Registration, of resonance OR larynx registers, is a matter of choice and does not compromise quality WHEN done correctly. A problem of registration does not mark a limit, a problem is a problem and the only thing it shows is that there is room for improvement.

To close this:

When things start to become really easy and range ceases being a problem at all, and by not being a problem it means that the result is not compromised in any way that can be perceived, using whatever registers you need, then its time to understand some limits that, repeating once more, have nothing to do with range.

Problems regarding voice types are ALWAYS direct consequences of the voice types. A heavy voice will have a problem of being too heavy on certain parts, not of being light. A light voice may have a problem of being too light, never too heavy. Should be obvious, but whatever... Screaming or braking is just lack of control, a consequence of a technical aspect that needs improvement, not of having a light or heavy voice.

Not to mention that, its pop, you can sing in different keys...

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I think this is a cool post that hits this on the head! I just want to add some stuff, i really like the way you say we should focus on our strenghts, atleast keep the mainfocus there!

This is one of the most important things that makes singing fun, and also keeping the main focus on the good things Will make training the weakpoints less "hard" and "booring"

Also liked we train to match à fach, not the other way around, this is totaly in line with My belifs.

"Screaming or braking is just lack of control" if not done by artistic choice, and proper techniques should be trained for this.

A quite big thing not adressed is the voice changes alot due to age, the voice you have when your twenty doesnt nessecarily be the same when you turned 30.

And there is no way to Tell how your voice will mature, Both in regards of technique and physical diffrences.

Our voices changes during our entire life, older people tend to have deepervoices and youngerpeople lighter.

A general rule for males is around 25 the changes to our voices become less.

I know you already know this but it would be cool if it could be added to the allready wellwritten post :)

Great post cheers

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Some nice points here. What I also think is worth mentioning is: voice types are not linear! This is something that is often told and voice types are often arranged on a linear scale based on passaggio or tessitura. But I think this is simply not true. There are more variables that describe the "material" you have available. The classical voice type system reflects that with the attributes 'lyric' and 'dramatic'. There are classical teacher that tend to say that it is even more important if your voice is 'lyric' or 'dramatic' in nature than the fact if you are a baritone or a tenor.

In fact the problem you describe here is typical for 'dramatic' voices. Dramatic voices typically have a stronger low-end than lyric voices, regardless if it's a bass, baritone or tenor. Dramatic Tenors often begin their career as basses or baritones until training and improvement reveals that they are actually tenors. Of course dramatic tenors don't have the power of a bass on the really low notes, but in an untrained voice you just cannot decide that, because an untrained voice has no power at all.

Lyric voices on the other hand tend to have more agility on the high-end, which doesn't have to mean that they have a bigger range or tessitura at the high end. Lyric Baritones often begin their careers as tenors because they are often able to sing significantly higher in an untrained state than their dramatic counterparts or even dramatic tenors.

I'm sure there are even more variables than that, so there is also still much room to improve the voice type system itself.

Aside from opera, voice types also have some use in other areas btw. Basically everywhere, where you want to 'cast' singers and want them to produce a certain type of sound or timbre, this may be musical theatre but this may also be professional bands looking for a new singer.

Last but not least it is just very interesting to know people that have closely "the same material" as you and to hear what they are doing with it.

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So many things to reply to, yet, I don't want to load up the post with quotes. So, maybe, last to first.

Nodules are a real fear. Please don't belittle that or discard it. Don't make me start quoting from Herman Rarebell's memoirs where he describes how Klaus Meine did push his voice to the limit and paid the price. Klaus had to have surgery to remove the nodules, lessons to keep from causing that again, and an album that was put on hold for half of a year, while he recovered. It's not just a fear, it's a fact of life.

Related to that, I work with the strengths of my voice, as was mentioned in this thread, which sometimes gets me the comment that I "don't do enough with my voice." Where have I heard that before? And exactly what is "not doing enough"?

So, I try, here and there, and get pimp-slapped. Either by myself through injury, or by others, ripping me a new one because I went in to dynamic sounds, rather than artistic sounds. I did a song that was keyed outside of my "strong" range. And followed other suggestions to go further afield. And then garnered the harshest criticism, yet.

So, let's borrow from the positive punishment thingy. Injury equals punishment equals don't do that again. Negative and well-place criticism equals punishment equals don't do that again.

I get the point of the thread. The fachs are for opera only so yeah, just with that limited definition, you are not born a bass or tenor or baritone. You are trained to be one for specific casting in opera. Yet, there is still some ackknowledgement that some voices are just naturally higher or lower. Some voices have the right sound at the right time for a range required in a piece or even an arch in the career of a singer.

Tessitura. Doesn't that also include texture, or weight? And yes, you really can't type a voice at the beginning. In fact, it might be wise to wait until that voice can cover whatever 2 octaves it can cover to type it. Though as mentioned, and certainly borne out in experience, one can train for one or the other at different points in time. For example, Pat Benetar made sounds in rock music that would never be acceptable if she had not married Sgt. Benetar and went to Julliard, which was the original plan of her teacher and coach. She really was trained and groomed for opera. But love, loss, and love found anew created something special. And I digress. Sorry.

I will have to disagree with Jens, just a little bit. I am doing everything I could do in 1988, and some better than that, these days, some 25 years later. Granted, it will probably be a little tougher another 20 years from now. I aim to be retired by then, making the ladies swoon at the retirement home or local bingo hall. Hey, a gig's a gig... :)

None of what I say is to imply that a person with a voice that starts lower than mine cannot sing notes that I can. Just about everyone here, including some who can sing a full octave lower than my lowest acoustically usable note have also sang most of my range and some get a few notes higher than I can.

Big whoopie....

To me, it's not a competition for the largest range. But it does remind me of the joke. How many guitar players (substitute singers) does it take to change a light bulb? Five. One to do it, four to stand around and say, "I can do that."

Again, I digress.

We're still going to have some way to describe voices in pop and rock music. That's just going to happen. Live with it. No one has come up with term, save the term "rock tenor" to describe people, regardless of natural range, singing tenor range notes in rock music. How come no one has come up with the term rock baritone or rock bass? Why only tenor.

And I realize that I am probably being perceived as a snot because I happen to be a tenor. But, to kind of agree with Felipe is talking about, it is a combination of the structure of my voice and how I choose to train. I choose to train or practice as a tenor. And I blame that on a few people. One person who pointed out that I simply did not have the volume and ring of a baritone when I was singing stuff around the C3 and B2 area. And Anthony Frisell. He said, "if you are a tenor, you should train like a tenor."

So, let's go ahead and discount Frisell, while we're at it. I hear that he even works with rock singers. He's probably going to lose rep points for that, so to speak.

Felipe said it best. The ugly elephant in the room. What if you are light, high type of voice but wanted to sing "Old Man River" in the original key? Probably not a wise idea, even if someone accuses you of not doing enough with your voice or someone else says that any and all voices could do any all songs if they just train for a decade to do so.

It's a double-edged sword. Working your voice to its limits, which also means acknowledging limits. And accepting the exceptions to the rule. That is also beyond the ability of most, I fear.

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I have another of my dumb questions (no suprise there). I know the Fachs only truely apply to Opera and the particular part the piece was written for.

Are the techniques truely different for different types of voices? For instance If you are going to sing a C5 in perceived full voice weather you have a light voice or deep voice will you have to use a different technique depending on how your speaking voice sounds? Yeah you're not going to sound like Michael Jackson if your speaking voice sounds like Berry White. But isn't the way to sing the note the same?

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Well, M, what I can say is this. C5 corresponds to a certain frequency. A number of wavelengths or vibrations within one second. So, if a singer, regardless of fach can sing a note that equals that number of wavelength repetitions in one second. What will differ is the perceived tonality of the note.

I think I just proved that a bass or baritone can sing a C5. As long as they have something vibrating at that frequency, or at least, resonating and amplifying an overtone that equals that.

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I totally agree with Felipe and Ron on not trying to turn your voice into something that it's not.

Btw, I'm really interested in this "light voices trying to sound bigger" thing as I might be guilty of that, especially in my speaking voice. Is it possible to find your true speaking voice, if it's been altered (either consciously or subconsciously)? How can you tell if you're using your true speaking voice or not?


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You dont have à true speakingvoice... However you have an optimum pitch to speak in wich needs less support but still is enough supported. A general rule is comfortably low. Get ahold of à logopeadic they teach you correct speech

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What is done in logopaedy to find a nice speaking voice is often to do many exercises on "H" to achieve a soft and relaxed fold closure. Try this:

Breathe in deep and relaxed, then do a very very soft "H" and very very gently close your folds to go into an 'eh' sound and hold it. The pitch you will get is some sort of the base pitch of your speaking voice. It will be quite low, usually around the lowest note of your tessitura.

Then do the same and say the word "hello" also with that gentle sound. The accentuation is usually on the 'o' and this vowel will be a little bit higher in pitch than your base pitch. This is often called the pitch of 'resonant speaking'.

Most of your speaking should live between those two notes. Of course if you get louder, pitch will rise, which is quite natural.

There are also people who say that you can determine voice types based on those speaking pitches. For me, base speaking pitch would be D#2 and 'resonant pitch' is G2. The resonant pitch is pretty much exactly 1 octave below my first passaggio, but that maybe just coincidence. Don't know how strong the connection between speaking voice and voice type really is.

As for light voices having a tendency to speak lower. This is really mostly a matter of resonance, because if you are speaking in a healthy way your are already speaking at almost the lowest pitch you can produce (in full voice). If you do the exercise above on an 'eh'-vowel ('uh' should work too) and really stay totally relaxed this should prevent you from changing your resonance. Guys who want to sound deeper usually shape their resonance towards 'oh' or 'oo' or they speak without full cord closure on notes below their range. Both cases should be prevented if you use an 'eh' or 'uh' vowel.

Just to add this: For women (and maybe really high male voices) it seems to be that they speak about half an octave above the lowest pitches they can produce (remember from TVS: for women everything happens 4-5 notes later :P).

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