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Vocal Ranges

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Willise
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I'm not sure if I am misunderstanding the theory or not, but I'd love to be able to sing some of the Eagles songs. I'm not there yet, but I was fooling around with New Kid In Town.

I began to play along with the song, and I decided to download the sheet music. The vocal range for the song is indicating up to A5. The word "street" in "There's talk on the street" is indicating D5. That seems high to me, but I don't know.

I'm struggling right now to get to B4 and my goal was to try and get a strong C5. I figured I would be able to sing most songs with a C3-C5 range (I don't want to sing hard rock or scream vocals). But looking at the sheet music makes my goal seem rather ridiculous :) it should be C6 or more.

Some Billy Joel sheet music I have indicates C6 and D6! Can I be reading this correctly?? I wouldn't think that Billy Joel had that kind of range.

Am I misunderstanding the sheet music or do you think the New Kid In Town song really goes to A5?

Thanks for the help!!

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For New Kid in Town you may be seeing some of the Background singing and harmonies. Also sometimes when you get the sheet music they are not written in the same KEY as what you hear on the Recording.

The Eagles do have a few falsettoish high pitched harmonies.

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Agreed, however, I believe the key is correct in this case - it's in E.

But looking at the vocal tab, the word "street" is shown on the 4th line of the treble clef which is D5, right?

I think I'm confused by a few things - C6 is soprano high C from what I remember. That is really high! LOL

Some of the guys here doing Journey and Queensryche must have ranges of C6 and beyond. I just don't hear Glen Frey singing as high as Steve Perry.

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I agree with MDEW. Trust me, Don Henley is not doing a D5 in the song. I know it's crazy, but I would suggest listening the song and match that, for pitch, anyway. And yes, you are misreading the sheet music tab. It also helps to remember that vocal lines for tenor are often written higher in sheet music than they actually are.

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That should be D4

That would certainly make more sense to me, but according to the staff notation, middle C (C4), is actually below the treble clef.

http://www.coastonline.org/mml/topic/topicsSearch_detail.php?id=101

This diagram shows the note as D5.

I'll just continue on in my original way of thinking, as you suggested, as think of it as D4 - at least it's easier to sing:D

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That would certainly make more sense to me, but according to the staff notation, middle C (C4), is actually below the treble clef.

http://www.coastonline.org/mml/topic/topicsSearch_detail.php?id=101

This diagram shows the note as D5.

I'll just continue on in my original way of thinking, as you suggested, as think of it as D4 - at least it's easier to sing:D

And, again, MDEW is right. Shall, i reiterate it some more? Tenor roles are often written like that. You have to transpose in your head.

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Willise, most of these sites that sell sheet music use some kind of software to list the vocal ranges. The software is unable to distinguish whether the notes on the treble clef were intended to be sung by a male or a female. Music written for male singers typically uses a treble clef one octave down from the treble clef on piano music. For female singers, it uses the exact same treble clef as the piano. The software just assumes it's a piano/female treble clef.

An A5 being performed by a male is a very high pitched "scream". Think Steven Tyler at the end of Dream On. If you don't hear any of that in your song, assume it's an octave down from what the site says.

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[And, again, MDEW is right. Shall, i reiterate it some more? Tenor roles are often written like that. You have to transpose in your head.

Sorry Ron, no need to reiterate - I got it. You're original post was no there when I replied. I just wanted to know why the note was D5 on the clef and the sung note was D4, as MDEW said (and I agreed).

MDEW and Remy - thanks for the replies and the explanation. I play all my instruments by ear and never learned a lot of the theory behind music notation. Remy's explanation helped a lot.

Thanks

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When using music sheets for vocal lines there is one very important thing to remember:

- baritone and bass lines are most often noted under the bass key, but tenor lines are noted with a violin key

- for better readability tenors lines under a violin key are usually notated one octave higher than they are sung

- usually, this is made visible by a small 8 under the violin key at the beginning of the sheet, but often this is forgotten or left out

It made me really wonder when someone who had the vocal line sheet for "Stairway to Heaven" told me that there was an E6 in it ;)

Here is an example from Wikipedia showing the typical tenor tessitura (which is D3-A4 in this example). It is notated as D4-A5 but the small 8 indicates that it is noted one octave higher than sung:

The baritone tessitura (A2-G4) is noted under the bass key and in the same pitch it is sung:

The problem is really that the area where tenors usually sing lies almost perfectly between the bass and the violin key, which is totally awkward to read on a music sheet. Even baritones are a little bit above bass notation acutally (they are not basses after all ;-) as you can see in the picture. Tenors are probably violas and baritones are celli. The bass key fits perfectly for bass voices though and the violin key for soprano voices.

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When using music sheets for vocal lines there is one very important thing to remember:

- baritone and bass lines are most often noted under the bass key, but tenor lines are noted with a violin key

- for better readability tenors lines under a violin key are usually notated one octave higher than they are sung

- usually, this is made visible by a small 8 under the violin key at the beginning of the sheet, but often this is forgotten or left out

Benny, the vast majority of solo music for men (at least popular music) is written with the treble clef an octave higher than sung, regardless of the vocal range. I've seen numerous songs that don't go any higher than C4-D4 that they still write on the treble clef.

The bass clef gets used a lot in choral music for the male voices. It is indeed more efficient for the true basses. Unfortunately, the people who print choral music seem to have an obsession with condensing as many parts as possible into one line and so they'll often write both of the male parts on the bass clef and separate them using divided notes.

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The bass clef gets used a lot in choral music for the male voices. It is indeed more efficient for the true basses. Unfortunately, the people who print choral music seem to have an obsession with condensing as many parts as possible into one line and so they'll often write both of the male parts on the bass clef and separate them using divided notes.

Remylebeau: What you describe is quite popular for publishers of editions of 'choral' scores, and my experience has been that the amateur choral singer has little difficulty in learning to interpret the editor's intent. When the texture of the choral vocal parts is highly immitative with crossing ranges (i.e., fugue, as often found in Classical music) then 1-line-per-voice-part is the expected presentation. Open the choral score to the Handel Messiah, motets of Sweelinck, Bach, Buxtehude, or operas of Puccini, Wagner... you'll see the multi-line notation.

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Benny, the vast majority of solo music for men (at least popular music) is written with the treble clef an octave higher than sung, regardless of the vocal range. I've seen numerous songs that don't go any higher than C4-D4 that they still write on the treble clef.

Yes, because the vast majority of singers in popular music are either tenors or baritones (for whom the violin key notation may be more comfortable, too). Real basses are EXTREMELY rare as a whole, not only in popular music.

It also isn't about the high notes, but about the zone where a song resides mostly (kind of the "average" note of a song).

The bass key centers on D3, the violin key centers on B4. If you transpose it one octave down, it centers on B3, which is already beyond 1st passaggio for basses and even for some baritones. The majority of pop music centers in an area that would be considered a tenor piece in classical music, regardless by what voice type it is actually sung.

Writing a song that doesn't go beyond D4 on the treble clef is still reasonable as long as it doesn't center on anything below F3 or so. But then it would probably still be considered a tenor piece mostly.

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I'm well acquainted with both types of scores. I just personally find it a royal pain in the behind to read a tenor line from the bass clef since I learned to read music as a clarinet player, not as a singer or piano player. The divided notes are also a royal pain, which I suppose is why directors tell you to bring a highlighter to rehearsal but I'm not one who really remembers to do that sort of thing.

Indeed, one of the reasons I always loved singing selections from Handel's Messiah is because it had a separate tenor line.

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