How do you get the vocal range of famous singers like Mariah Carey and Ariana Grande? Find out in this guest post by online voice teacher Emmanuel N...
We all know those few amazing singers with expansive vocal ranges – Mariah Carey for her five octaves, famous for her low, high, and whistle notes; Ariana Grande famous for her full voice and head voice notes; Toni Braxton and Brandy for those low sultry notes. Everyone would love to be able to sing their songs and hit every note, but sadly most cannot. However, did you know almost anyone can sing whistle notes and expand their vocal range by around two octaves if not more? Although many vocal coaches suggest that one’s vocal range will never expand or that male singers cannot hit high notes, they’re pretty much wrong.
Our Different Voices
Before we go any further please allow me to discuss our different voices. Each different voice is used for certain notes and our vocal range is divided up among said voices.
1. Chest Voice
Our chest voice is our main voice and typically is where we sing the notes we are comfortable singing. Chest voice for men typically is lower than a chest voice for women. Most famous female singers sing in chest voice – the easiest for them. However, most famous male singers sing in their mixed voice.
2. Mixed Voice
Mixed voice is the voice above the chest voice; here, men are able to sing higher notes (think Chris Brown and Trey Songz). Notes in mixed voice for women are typically higher than chest but not as powerful as their full voice (most famous female singers do not typically use their mixed voice very much).
Both men and women have falsetto – although many women typically don’t sing in falsetto. Most people do not count falsetto as part of their vocal range, but a falsetto can still be very useful; if you’re a man and can’t sing certain notes, using falsetto to reach them can prove helpful. Male singers who use falsetto are Chris Brown and Justin Timberlake. Female singers who use falsetto are Leona Lewis and Beyoncé. Falsetto is basically your “false voice” and is what some people refer to as your “girl voice” when referring to male singers.
4. Head Voice
Head voice is quite uncommon among both male and female singers, and even rarer in male singers. Head voice is typically less than an octave and notes in this voice are high and powerful – think Leona Lewis, Beyoncé, and Ariana Grande. Men can sing in head voice but typically cannot exceed its typical range – up to about E6 – while women can sing up to about G6 (like Ariana does), but it is highly recommended that you do not exceed its suggested range (G5 to E6).
5. Vocal Fry/Whistle Register
Vocal fry is extremely rare in music and typically only used in country music. Vocal fry is typically only used by male singers and notes in this voice are very low. Whistle register is also extremely rare and for most people the only singer they know who can sing in whistle is Mariah Carey. Most people know very little about this voice and though many suggest you cannot sing in this voice – especially men – I think that anyone can reach this voice.
How to Expand Your Voice
Anyone can expand their vocal range but it takes a lot of practice, time, and patience. I used to be able to only sing in chest voice and falsetto, but now I can sing in every voice that I mentioned – I have around a 6.8-octave vocal range. If you want help expanding your range then just hire me as your tutor and I’ll help you expand it little by little with every voice lesson. Here are the steps we’ll take:
- First step: Discovering your current vocal range is our first step. I will play a virtual piano, and you will sing each note I play (if you have mimicry then this will be easy) until we have found your vocal range. If you know your range already then we skip this step.
- Second step: We then discover your weak spots – where your voice sounds weak, where you have trouble, and where you need help. After this we can then start expanding your vocal range.
- Third step: I will then teach you and give you tips and suggestions on how to sing lower or higher – depending on what you want. Here is where our lessons will vary completely seeing as each student is different.
- Fourth step: Every time we discover a new voice I will teach you to bridge your voices together so there is no gap between them. Typically this is our last step with each voice.
Working with a voice teacher is also key if you’re trying to learn a particular song — a professional instructor can give you specific tips and pointers to help you. For a great example, check out this tutorial for singing Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” by our friends at Molly’s Music.
Emmanuel M. teaches singing and songwriting exclusively online. A California State University, Fullerton graduate and native Spanish speaker, he also teaches essay writing, study skills, and Spanish. Learn more about Emmanuel here!
Photo by Went Backward