What is my Voice Type?
As a male singer, you most likely are curious to what your vocal range and classification might be. I was definitely curious and intrigued by this. My biggest question was, “Am I a Tenor or a Baritone?”
How it all Started
Growing up, as you can learn more about in the About Me section, I sang a lot of Alvin and the Chipmunks as a toddler and then in a children’s choir and then quit before my voice changed. When I decided to return to singing at the age of 16 years old, things had changed in my voice.
Before I ever attempted singing any classical or musical theatre songs or knew of any vocal classifications, I only really listened to rock music. To me, it seemed like all of my favorite singers (Alex Gaskarth – All Time Low, Deryck Whibley – Sum 41, Tom Delonge – blink-182, Travis Clark – We the Kings, and many more) were all very high singers. I attempted to sing along with a lot of these bands and found myself having a hard time. I would often times have to sing along with the songs an octave lower softly or yell out the high notes. I worked hard at trying to sing as high as I could.
My First Choir Experience
When I was 18, I was invited to sing in a local SATB choir (that I am still apart of) after performing a few original rock songs that I had written. I resisted at first but eventually decided to join. This choir was relatively small. When I joined, the director asked me “are you a tenor or a bass?” My father sang tenor in another choir, so I just said that I was a tenor.
The next week, my brother (a Lyric Bass-Baritone) joined the same choir. Since we were brothers, the director took us into a different room with a piano to test our vocal ranges. Being really nervous, I sorta hid behind my brother who sang louder than me so the director didn’t really hear my voice. He said that we were baritones and that he would put us in the tenor section since there was no Baritone section.
My brother eventually moved down to singing bass since singing tenor tired him out. I, however, stayed in the tenor section. Hitting an E4 was difficult for me since I knew nothing of different registers or passaggio or anything other than my chest voice. My voice was also very nasally and throaty due to my attempted imitations of pop punk singers.
I felt that it was time to take my singing to the next level by taking voice lessons. I didn’t really go in open minded. I didn’t care too much about singing other styles. I just wanted to be able to sing higher since I was now the lead singer of a rock band. My voice, at the time, was only able to go up to about an F#4 at most. On the first day, I told my teacher that my goal was to sing a G4 and she laughed and said that I should be able to sing almost every note when she was through with me. I thought that was ridiculous and unnecessary but decided to continue on with voice lessons.
My teacher worked hard on my voice. She helped me discover my head voice and taught me proper breathing and also exposed me to new types of music. Pretty soon, I was hitting Tenor C’s like nothing (C5). Now, I’m even getting up to G5 very easily.
So I had finally hit my goal. Singing in my band had become easier than ever. Everyone I knew was convinced that I was a super high tenor (my voice teacher labeled me a Lyric Tenor). The range of all of my songs in my band was from about D3-B4 (with the majority of the range being between B3-G4). I had mastered my passagio (E4-F#4) and had one big connected voice.
In the beginning, I never paid any attention to the bottom range, but only to the top range. The top notes had become easy while any note around A2 and lower were extremely difficult unless I had just woken up in the morning (though if I tried really really hard, I could get down to an F2 or sometimes an E2).
Continued Confusion on my Voice Classification
So I had earned a nice range (F2-Ab5), but I learned that range was not the only classification of one’s voice type. It left me still wondering if I was a baritone or a tenor.
Since I could easily access notes above D4 and struggled on notes below A2, it made sense to put me in the tenor section in most of the SATB choirs but singing in a volunteer choir didn’t quite give me enough info on what my voice truly was
My voice teacher got me into singing songs from Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera (now my two favorite musicals). My two favorite characters from the plays were actually baritone roles! (Marius and Raoul).
I first learned Empty Chairs at Empty Tables and Music of the Night and the low notes killed me at first but now the two songs have become very easy for me to sing.
Developing that lower range helped me realize that I have quite a nice-sounding low range (A2-D3). Those used to feel so low to me, but now they feel so natural to sing.
Based on a chart I found (link below), I was trying to figure out if I was a lyric baritone or a lyric tenor. Everyone that has heard me says that I sound like a lyrics tenor.
Based on the chart in the link below, it appears that I am a Lyric Tenor. It makes sense now. I assumed I was a baritone when I first started singing since I sang with horrid technique. Now it seems that the higher notes come A LOT easier than the very low notes.
To those of you that are trying to figure out what voice type you are, my advice is to try several things and embrace what you naturally have rather than trying to force your voice to become something it’s not. Don’t try to be a bass if you can’t sing below a C3, and don’t try to be a tenor if your comfort zone is so far down the staff.
What You Should Do
Embrace What You Have
What I’ve learned is that you should embrace what you are. If you try too hard to constantly sing out of your vocal fach, you will end up hurting yourself and could end up getting surgery which would be bad!
Everyone has breaks in their voice at different spots. Acknowledge where you breaks are and transition between registers at a comfortable place without pushing your voice. There is no shame if your voice breaks at a D4 while you know someone else that breaks at a G4 or something. It doesn’t matter!
It is very likely that you can sing higher than you think right now. Whether you are a tenor or a baritone, it is always possible with good technique to gain more range in a healthy way.
I’ll write another article about the confusion between head voice and falsetto terminology online.
One Connected Voice
This ties into the last section. If you only use your chest voice, you will hit a ceiling when going higher and higher. Don’t see the use of head voice and falsetto as weakness. Do what is comfortable.
If you work on strengthening all of your registers and switching between them, then you will have a huge singable range on a consistent basis. I highly suggest that you take voice lessons as well as watch videos from Singing Success on YouTube to help you out.
Videos of me Singing
I have trained hard to gain both lower and higher notes. Here are some videos of me singing.
Empty Chairs at Empty Tables
This song is actually a baritone song. The highest note is a G4. It took a lot of work for me to get the lower notes to be stronger.
Bring Him Home
This is not the very best demonstration of my singing since I had terrible allergies and had just gotten off work and started singing with minimal warm ups. I start to sound more warmed up halfway through the song. I still wanted to show this to show that I am a lyric tenor.
Come What May
This is a duet with my friend Lauren.