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Determining vocal range of a Bass

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Lavishous
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Hello fellow vocalists, I'm a male junior in high school and was wondering what vocal-type I'd be categorized as and how to maximize the potential of my range. I don't have a particularly low speaking voice (never received a comment on my voice and never really considered myself to be a bass) however the Bass 1 parts (we don't get Bass 2 parts) I've been singing in choir are almost always reaching the upper end of my "chest" voice range and I'd prefer to sing almost every piece we've been given an octave below. On a typical day my comfortable chest range goes from about B1 (Occasionally A1 or G#1) to just above Middle C unless I want to do a reinforced falsetto-type thing. I've noticed that I can hit the highest soprano notes in my falsetto register and was wondering if this indicates that I may not be a low bass but a poorly-trained tenor or something since I have about 2 octaves worth of falsetto. Thanks so much!

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Range is just range, affinity is just affinity focus more on what you want. If you are young your voice and technique has not matured fully, i would not put myself in any fach just yet. Take what you can do easily make that Better and expand that and play around with your voice. Cheers :)

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I dont know! ;)

Do you sound like an adult already when speaking?

Pitch-wise I'd say so, although I'd assume the tone is still recognizably not that of an adult's. If I consciously speak at a lower pitch (C2-B1 is pretty speakable for me) then I can imitate movie-trailer voices, optimus prime, ect. but that is not my normal speaking voice.

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I understand man.

Well, about this information, its the tone that matters really, and your voicel probably has still to mature and settle. This alone will improve things a lot, giving you more depth of timbre, range and comfort (yes, your voice will sound deeper and at the same time you will be able to sing higher).

However, this is even more important:

This area of the voice where you have your limit right now, is where 99,9% of people hit a barrier made basicly of habitual tensions and inneficient use of the voice. So you are most probably just having a hard time with these issues, technical issues, not due to being a bass or baritone.

You said that you hit some notes on your falsetto register. Without diving into the quality factor, which is also very important, lets say that you have to close the whole gap between those falsetto notes and your C4, this in a very simplified way of course. With good technical background, range should not be an issue.

So its a matter of what you will choose to do... To sing at a high level, you will need good instruction and dedication, like in any other activity. Its not harder or easier than that :)

Hope it helps!

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Lavishous, your voice reminds me of how mine was right after my voice change and before vocal training. I had good lows and these freakish highs and nothing in between. I remember D4 was tough, a couple notes above that I couldn't hit at all in either register, and my falsetto seemed to extend infinitely high.

Fast forward a few years of singing and training, I'm 18 now and more of a typical high baritone with no gap in the middle of voice, just a minor break that may or may not happen depending on how I'm singing. And based on where I started, I used to think I was a bass baritone...I will probably be a low tenor by the time I'm an adult. Speaking purely in terms of range. I don't know about fach or any of that crap, I just mean the range I can sing in contemporary styles. But yeah, the unnecessary lowest notes went away and the unnecessary super high extension went away, while the middle of my voice has greatly improved in strength and flexibility. Because that was the goal of training. That's how my voice has become what it is now, if I didn't train I'd probably still have the giant split in the middle.

So in contemporary styles and arguably even choral music, it has a lot more to do what range you've trained, than what your natural untrained range was. So expect that you'll be able to change it however you want, it just takes time and a focused goal.

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That low range of yours will make you very appealing to acapella groups, quartets, choirs, etc. who always need people that can sing the really low bass parts. Whether that low range actually makes you a bass, is a different story. There's no universally agreed upon definition of what a "bass" actually is and classification isn't an exact science. In opera (perhaps the only genre where classification has rigid requirements) you need to be able to project a certain range over an orchestra without amplification.

If singing low works for you, then keep singing low. If you want to learn to sing higher, you can.

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Lavishous, your voice reminds me of how mine was right after my voice change and before vocal training. I had good lows and these freakish highs and nothing in between. I remember D4 was tough, a couple notes above that I couldn't hit at all in either register, and my falsetto seemed to extend infinitely high.

Fast forward a few years of singing and training, I'm 18 now and more of a typical high baritone with no gap in the middle of voice, just a minor break that may or may not happen depending on how I'm singing. And based on where I started, I used to think I was a bass baritone...I will probably be a low tenor by the time I'm an adult. Speaking purely in terms of range. I don't know about fach or any of that crap, I just mean the range I can sing in contemporary styles. But yeah, the unnecessary lowest notes went away and the unnecessary super high extension went away, while the middle of my voice has greatly improved in strength and flexibility. Because that was the goal of training. That's how my voice has become what it is now, if I didn't train I'd probably still have the giant split in the middle.

So in contemporary styles and arguably even choral music, it has a lot more to do what range you've trained, than what your natural untrained range was. So expect that you'll be able to change it however you want, it just takes time and a focused goal.

Thanks so much for the responses everyone! The D4-F#4 area is pretty tricky for me right now as it requires either a loud chest voice or mixed falsetto (not sure whether it's head voice). I hope to retain the low notes into adulthood as it's admittedly pretty entertaining to throw in a low B1 at the final chord of a song or something, I just wish to improve the versatility in the upper ranges. I've always been confused as to the true definition of the vocal classifications and whether they're based more on tone/timbre or raw range of a voice.

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The are of comfort for a bass is usually roughly E2-F4, but don't be hasty with classification. It is really important that you can do the C4-F4 part of your voice easily and freely on several dynamic levels before making judgement.

Those notes are the classical "head notes" for a bass, which are sung in head resonance but laryngeal mode M1. If you have problems with those notes there is a high possiblity that you are just not trained well enough to be classified and the lack of high range could be due to lack of training.

If you have these notes down and still have quality in your lower range (especially E2-G2 part) and also still encounter problems of shifting into falsetto or breaking around G4, you are most probably a bass.

That's for classical technique though. If you sing contemporary style you can carry head voice a few notes higher before shifting to falsetto. In contemporary singing the passages happen a bit later in general.

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The are of comfort for a bass is usually roughly E2-F4, but don't be hasty with classification. It is really important that you can do the C4-F4 part of your voice easily and freely on several dynamic levels before making judgement.

Those notes are the classical "head notes" for a bass, which are sung in head resonance but laryngeal mode M1. If you have problems with those notes there is a high possiblity that you are just not trained well enough to be classified and the lack of high range could be due to lack of training.

If you have these notes down and still have quality in your lower range (especially E2-G2 part) and also still encounter problems of shifting into falsetto or breaking around G4, you are most probably a bass.

That's for classical technique though. If you sing contemporary style you can carry head voice a few notes higher before shifting to falsetto. In contemporary singing the passages happen a bit later in general.

I really have trouble imagining myself singing (even in head-voice) anything past about E4 without slipping into falsetto or having to basically scream. My low notes have a lot volume in the range (E2-G2) you mentioned and I've never been in a situation so far in my singing experience where I couldn't hit the low C2 well. Below that C though, I sometimes lose some fullness and I have never hit a note below G1...yet.

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I really have trouble imagining myself singing (even in head-voice) anything past about E4 without slipping into falsetto or having to basically scream. My low notes have a lot volume in the range (E2-G2) you mentioned and I've never been in a situation so far in my singing experience where I couldn't hit the low C2 well. Below that C though, I sometimes lose some fullness and I have never hit a note below G1...yet.

Yeah, sounds a lot like bass. But don't let your current range fool you. I felt similar to what you describe, and now I can hit something like an A4 in chest and something like D#4 in head before entering falsetto. I'm still a bass, though, and what you describe sounds like you are too. But there is still quite some room for training and it still may happen that a baritone or even a tenor is revealed after training.

Although it happens rarely I know a guy to whom it happened. He had a usable range from like G1 to E4, too, the rest was falsetto. But when he went to a teacher it became apparent that he just sang with his larynx locked in a very low position, which gave him the illusion of being a bass. In the ears of a listener you could also hear that his low notes were not as powerful as he thought in his own sensation. Because low notes make your bones vibrate stronger than high ones you can percieve them as being more powerful than they actually are.

As for power. The deciding element for "powerful" low notes is the "ring", not the "boom". Low notes are always kind of boomy because they have lots of low overtones. But the deciding element is if you can make them "ring" (= high overtones). That's required for bass singing.

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Would it be helpful if I posted a video? Meaning, would anyone on the site be able to recognize these "overtones" from my hearing my voice and determine whether I'm a true bass or just singing improperly?

Yes, could help, but a definite answer would require deeper investigation and a trained voice, as lacking overtones can also be a lack of training.

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I always like the sound of a real basso. Probably from spending a lot of time with my step-grandfather. He was basso and it felt like the whole house shook with his voice. Sure, that's a childhood memory but vivid, nevertheless. As opposed to my bird-like voice. :lol:

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Did a quick video of my typical range. If you guys could give me some feedback that'd be fantastic!

Can you do the same thing on a softer tone? like "HAAH" with air. It's very hard to distinguish because your voice sounds fryish on all those notes. My guess would be that you are more like a (low) baritone, but that's really just a guess.

Would also be helpful if you go for the high range, too, so we can hear where your break into head voice sits.

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Lavish, do not worry about classification yet, right now its impossible to tell. If your timbre is really deeper, its a very good thing.

GL.

Thanks for the encouragement! If you have any spare time (I know this is totally voluntary help from you guys), based on the video I posted, what would you recommend I do for training and material with my voice?

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No problems... I made this thread a while ago:

http://themodernvocalist.punbb-hosting.com/viewtopic.php?id=5774

Try working on the first part, relaxing/breathing, then pick a song that you like and is comfortable for you, and sing. Always work with comfort, dont push, and try to adjust things slowly to make it sound good.

Alone the most effective thing you can do is sing, by far.

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To the original poster, lavishous, don't worry, it's okay to think of yourself as a basso, already. Especially if you want a special niche in the world of singing. A true and legit basso is a wonderful thing and your time would best be spent on smoothing out the low end. And it is possible to accept this range at your age.

When i was 12 years old, I had a classmate named Matt. A math genius who was my same age. He taught me algebra better than the teacher did. And had a voice lower than most of the male teachers there. Not that he was a singer. But if he was, he would have already had an advantage.

Nor do I know how he came to have it. He was an orphan and, in fact, lived at the Baptist Home for Children on Buckner Blvd in Dallas. I was pretty much his only friend but it was an honor. He turned me on to math and the writings of my favorite author, Robert A. Heinlein. Most people may not know his name but they have seen a few movies based on his books. "Puppet Masters" and the first "Starship Troopers."

Anyway, get with a coach or choir teacher, someone with more than a passing knowledge of the vocal arts. And it can happen for you.

I know a case of a singer, spotted in junior high and singled out by an opera coach. She was trained and even groomed to go to Julliard. Then, as a young adult, her life took a detour when she married her Army-bound boyfriend. Then she got in to jazz, and later, rock and roll. And has done pretty well for herself.

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Today was an uncomfortable day for my voice, but I did my best to show my lower range and upper range through two song examples. All the low notes in this vid felt very relaxed and I tried to do them with a softer tone and at a lower volume.

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