How Are Singers Classified?

selective focus photo of women singing
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In singing, there are many categories of voice, and some of these categories are subcategorized. For instance, there are light voices and full voices. Each of these categories corresponds to different aspects of the singer’s voice, including how much weight the voice produces and how well it produces a specific tone. A light voice is ideal for roles requiring a young and playful tone, while a full voice sounds more mature and can handle roles that require a heavier tone.

Vocal registers

There are many different types of voices that can be classified as vocal registers. The head voice, chest voice, and falsetto are all types of singing styles. A trained singer will be able to move easily through the vocal registers without much difficulty. A skilled vocalist can also blend vocal registers and be considered versatile.

Essentially, each vocal register entails a specific range of tones. These registers are created by the vibratory patterns of the vocal folds. Each voice type produces a different sound, but they all have the same basic quality. Here are some of the different types of vocal registers and their characteristics.

The whistle register is the highest vocal register. It is accessible to higher-pitched female singers and is a natural extension of the head voice. Although it is not common for women to use the whistle register, it is possible to learn how to use it. However, the whistle register is not a good choice for lower-pitched females.

A lower vocal register is called a vocal fry. Male singers are more likely to use the vocal fry register, but this range is not accessible for everyone.

‘Singable compass’

Vocal range is a concept that identifies the full range of notes that a singer can produce. The range includes both high-pitched notes and non-descript vocal sounds. A singer’s vocable compass measures the range from the lowest grunt to the highest vocal squeak.


‘Tessitura’ refers to the range that a singer is comfortable singing in. It is also used to measure the difficulty of a singer’s voice. A singer’s vocal range is determined by how high the notes reach and how low the notes can go.

It is also the basis for vocal classification in opera. The voice ranges of different singers vary greatly. In opera, a mezzo-soprano category emerged in the 18th century in France and Italy. As composers began to write more difficult and ornamental passages, they began separating singers based on tessitura.

If you want to make an impressive performance, you need to know the tessitura of the music you’re singing. Knowing this information will allow you to adjust the keys of important parts of a song, such as the chorus or the bridge. By matching the keys to the tessitura, you’ll be able to make your performance meaningful and impressive.

In general, a mezzo’s tessitura is lower than a contralto’s. A mezzo’s tessitura varies between A4 and E4 in the range. This vocal range is often more expressive and powerful than a tenor’s.

The lower range of a mezzo’s voice is similar to a soprano’s, but the mezzo voice is heavier and more resonant. A mezzo’s voice is usually the second or third role in opera. Carmen, for example, is a mezzo role.


There are several terms used to describe the various parts of the voice. Some singers are more comfortable singing in one passaggio than in another. In such cases, a good teacher should be able to guide a student through each vocal part. The three types of voice are head voice, chest voice, and whistle voice.

The most difficult note for a soprano is F5. For a tenor, it is F#4 and for a baritone, it is G4. The singer must avoid singing notes above these ranges in songs until they have mastered the passaggio.

A singer’s voice register is an essential part of their singing. Each part of the voice has a specific range, called a vocal register. These registers differ from one another in length and volume. In general, males and females have three vocal registers: chest voice, mixed voice, and head voice. The first passaggio occurs when the singer moves from the chest voice to the head voice.

While this is an important distinction, the voice type can be tricky to define. This is due to the physical structure of the larynx and vocal tract. A large larynx and large vocal tract means lower tessitura, whereas a small larynx means higher tessitura. However, physical size isn’t the only factor in determining voice type, as the timbre and weight of the voice also play a role.


A soprano is the highest singer in the voice range. They are capable of singing in the C4-C6 range and have a high, clear, and bright tone. Sopranos are mostly female, but young boys can sing in this range as well. However, singing in this range is extremely difficult and only a small number of people have the ability to sing in this range.

Sopranos are often the main vocal roles in classical opera, and they sing high notes in their repertoire. However, they have different tessitura levels than mezzo-sopranos. A soprano must have a full throat, good dynamic control, and timbre to reach their highest notes.

Sopranos have two types of voices: lyric sopranos and dramatic sopranos. Lyric sopranos are lighter than their full-range counterparts and are often more appropriate for young characters in opera. However, there are roles for dramatic sopranos, which call for a deeper range and more emotional intensity.

Soprano singers are also classified according to their style. A light soprano, for example, has a lighter, more flexible tone than a high-pitched soprano. Light sopranos, for example, might sing roles such as the clever female servant in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte. Other roles for light sopranos include the role of Nannetta in Verdi’s Falstaff or Sophie in Strauss’s Der Rosenkaval.

A coloratura soprano is another type of soprano. This style is very technical and involves ornamentation of the melody. It also requires flexibility in the voice.


Contralto singers have thick vocal folds and use the chest register to produce the highest pitch possible. These singers often have a distinctive dark smoky color to their voice. The voice also has a more compact and shorter middle register than other vocal types. In addition, contralto singers use the larynx higher in position and produce a more high-pitched tone.

Contralto voice types are also classified according to their timbre and color. While the coloratura contralto tends to have a lighter voice, a lyric contralto will have a deeper chest register and lower range. These singers will often cover for sopranos and mezzo-sopranos.

Contraltos typically have a range between D3 and E5, but they can sing lower. In fact, Polish Contralto Ewa Podles has been recorded in the lower register, as has a Contralto singer from the United States. Some Contraltos can even sing to the E4 note, although they are not encouraged to do so.

Contralto is a rare vocal type and is often a subset of Mezzo Sopranos. Many Contralto singers struggle with low vocal self-esteem and feel that their problems are their fault. Although every voice has certain physical and acoustical advantages and disadvantages, the good news is that all voices can be trained.

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