You were probably hoping that defining your voice type would be as simple as finding your range.
I was too.
Unfortunately, it’s a bit more complicated.
In the German Fach System of voice types, which is still used by professional singers today, there are more than 25 different voice types.
With so many different types of voices, how can you find out where your voice fits in?
Today, we’re going to discuss all of the different variables that are included in the Fach System, and how you can determine each of these points for your own voice.
We’ll also go through the different types in the Fach System, and help you see where your voice lands.
And as a bonus, I’m going to show you a great tool that will help you improve your singing voice fast.
It’s time to find your voice!
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What is the Fach System?
The Fach (pronounced like ‘Bach’ with an F) System for classifying voices started in Germany back in the late 1800’s.
It was used in opera to distinguish different singing voices, thus helping guide singers to the right parts in auditions and casting.
Professional opera singers of the time would be placed into a category depending on different factors in their voices.
Then, they would study and practice the opera characters who shared that same vocal type. Thus, they were able to audition for and find the parts that suited their particular voices best.
This method is still used by many professional opera singers today.
When creating opera pieces, many composers already have a specific voice type in mind for the characters that they are writing.
By classifying both the character and the singer in the correct voice type according to the Fach System, the sound that is produced is true to the original idea.
So, what factors are involved in voice classification according to the Fach System? We’re going to discuss all of them below, and help you to determine how you fit in.
The 10 Variables to Consider in Determining Your Voice Type
Range is the first and probably the most important part of the Fach System.
Finding your vocal range means determining which notes you can actually hit without struggling or straining your voice.
There are six main range types, three for women and three for men. From high to low, these are soprano, mezzo-soprano, contralto, tenor, baritone, and bass.
To learn more about how to find your vocal range, check out this article.
Think about the lowest and highest notes that are included in your vocal range.
Although you should still be able to produce a strong note at each end, those probably aren’t the most comfortable notes to sing for you.
Somewhere around the middle of your range, you’ll find your tessitura, or the notes that you feel most comfortable singing.
Ever notice when you’re singing that you have to change your voice in a way to hit higher notes?
To me, it almost feels like changing gears in a car. We tend to be especially careful around those areas, aware that that change can cause us to produce weak or off-key notes.
This spot is called the transition spot. It’s the place where you change from your chest register (lower voice) to the head register (higher notes).
4. Vocal Registers
Now that you know where your transition is, it’s time to measure both the head (high) and chest (low) registers.
How much of your total vocal range is included in each register?
Another important factor in voice type is the weight of your voice.
One singer might have a deep, rich voice, while another singer in the same range can have a lighter, brighter voice.
Think of Adele:
Her voice produces a deep, sultry sound (and we all love her for it).
Compare her to another female singer, such as Taylor Swift:
Her voice produces a much lighter, almost airy sound.
While both are beautiful in their own way, they each have a different weight.
If you could measure the drama in your voice on a scale of 1 to 10, where would you place it?
How ‘big’ is your voice when you really get going?
This doesn’t include pushing your voice beyond what it can do, but includes measuring the amount of sound that your voice can produce comfortably.
7. Speech Level
This includes your normal speaking range, or the notes that you would use when speaking.
Timbre can be thought of as the quality or texture of your voice.
Your age and the amount of experience that you have singing will also affect your voice type.
For example, our vocal cords aren’t fully mature until we’re in our late teens or early twenties.
10. Physical Qualities
Your physical characteristics such as how tall you are and how much you weigh will also have an effect on your voice.
Using the Fach System to Find Your Voice Type
Remember how we said there are over 25 different voice types in the Fach System?
Well, we’re going to go through each of the main 25 types, and help you see where you land.
Female Voice Types
Lyric Coloratura Soprano: A high, agile, and bright voice type that features a full timbre and a warm tone.
Dramatic Coloratura Soprano: While still high and very flexible, this voice type includes a much more dramatic tone and incredible power.
Lyric Soprano: This voice type is usually divided between light lyric sopranos and full lyric sopranos. Both involve a full timbre with warm tones. Light lyrics possess more of a youthful sound, while full lyrics have a larger, more mature tone.
Dramatic Soprano: This deep, rich voice is much different from the lighter tones of the coloratura. This emotive voice tone has a dark timbre and features a lower tessitura (most comfortable notes).
Character Soprano: Bringing a more theatrical feel to the vocal tone, this voice type is bright and airy, with a bit of drama thrown in.
Coloratura Mezzo-Soprano: Highlighted with warm, bright tones, this voice type is flexible and rich.
Lyric Mezzo-Soprano: With a lack of agility and size, this voice type is seen by a smooth and sensitive quality.
Dramatic Mezzo-Soprano: Similar to the dramatic soprano, this voice type features deep, rich, imposing tones and an incredible size. The only difference is that dramatic mezzo-sopranos sing in a lower register.
Coloratura Contralto: Light and agile, the coloratura contralto is at the higher end of the contralto classification. This is a rare voice type that is not commonly heard.
Lyric Contralto: Also light and airy in its timbre, this voice type only lacks the higher range of the coloratura contralto.
Dramatic Contralto: Here comes the powerhouse! Dramatic contralto is the lowest possible vocal type for a woman, and has the heaviest tone. Again, this is a rare voice type.
Male Voice Types
High Tenor: This is the highest voice type for a man, and also features the highest tessitura. It is a very agile voice with a fantastic falsetto.
Light Tenor: With a light tone and an extremely agile voice, this type can perform some incredibly difficult vocal changes.
Lyric Tenor: This soft, warm voice features a full timbre, and typically is quite a powerhouse.
Dramatic Tenor: Full and low, the dramatic tenor can push an incredible amount of power into his voice, and holds a sustained, dark tone.
Character Tenor: Equivalent to the character soprano mentioned above, this voice type is bright and powerful while holding a somewhat theatrical tone.
Baritone-Tenor: Almost in-between these two vocal ranges, a baritone-tenor is heavy and low.
Lyric Baritone: Features a light timbre and incredible agility.
Cavalier Baritone: With warm tones, the cavalier can also maintain very good flexibility.
Dramatic Baritone: As the name entails, dramatic baritones feature a rich, full timbre, and a somewhat dark quality.
Bass-Baritone: Again, this voice type straddles between two vocal ranges, reaching an extensive register.
Lyric Bass: The lightest of the bass types, the lyric bass features good agility.
Acting Bass: Another flexible voice type, acting basses feature a richer tone.
Serious Bass: This mature type is deep, dark, and powerful.
Low Bass: An incredibly rare bass type, this is the lowest possible voice range, hitting notes as low as G3.
Putting it All Together
While this is a lot of information to take in, hopefully you’ve been able to decipher more about your personal voice type.
Knowing this information will help you as a professional singer.
But what if you wanted to increase your vocal range, or improve your singing voice in general?
Are you interested in having private lessons, but are worried about how much it will cost?
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No matter what voice type you have, it’s always a good time to work on improving and expanding your voice.