Know Your Voice Type

Knowing your voice type gives you more vocal freedom.

It makes all the difference to know your voice type, both when you sing and speak. When you respect the acoustics of your body, your voice will feel at home.

Your voice is an instrument

Everytime you speak or sing, you are using an instrument, the voice. It’s unique to each person with different vibrations and “colours”, but overall the voice types fall into just three categories each for men and women.

Even if you don’t sing at all, knowing your voice type and working with it can be essential to making the most of your speaking voice. If you speak in a way that fully respects the acoustics of your body (I’ll tell you how in a moment!), your expression can be fully authentic – because you speak like you.

The three voice types

To understand the three voice types better, think of a violin, a cello and a contrabass.
The violin has strings on a small wooden box, and when you play the strings with a bow, the sound will be high pitched. The cello, having a larger box, will have a lower resonating sound, and the bass, being larger still, will sound low.
The voice is exactly the same.

Sopranos (f) and tenors (m) are the highest voices, mezzosopranos (f) and barytones (m) are the medium voices and contraltos (f) and basses (m) are the lowest voice types.
This is all because the sound of your voice will resonate according to how your body is built.

Imagine a violin sounding like a low bass. Or the other way around. It’s not good…! Not only because it’s hard work – and maybe even physically impossible – but because it’s not considering the acoustics of the instrument.

What’s your voice type?

The first clue to find out what voice type you have could be to see what kind of instruments you are attracted to. Are they low or high or somewhere in between? High pitched guitar or low bass? It can be within all kinds of music.
I have for example always had a strong connection with the cello, which is not strange as I’m a mezzosoprano!

You can also take a look at your body frame (when I say “frame”, it’s because we’re not regarding what sits on your frame here!) Is it slim, medium or compact?
I often see violin players who have slim wrists, which means they are sopranos playing a soprano instrument. What a beautiful connection!

Wheather you sing or not, you can start noticing how you use your voice. Where do you feel most comfortable speaking or singing? High or low or somewhere in between? Notice where your voice feels at home. And most importantly, honour your voice and the signals you are getting. If your voice gets tired when you’re speaking or singing, some adjustments are needed to maintain a healthy voice. A good voice teacher can help you with that.

Happy Singing – and speaking!

© Nína O’Farrell 2020
Photo by Simon Leonardo

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