Home > Blog > Falsetto: Am I Really a Countertenor?

Falsetto: Am I Really a Countertenor?

In the past 20 years there has been an increase of male singers in popular music who use falsetto to sing their songs. Indeed, some artists, like Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and Chris Martin of Coldplay, have based their whole careers on singing falsetto.

As a result, many young men today try to imitate them and confuse their singing falsetto with countertenoring. Though both techniques allow you to reach the same high notes, they are extremely different in a physical level, and are utilized by different voice types.

Believe it or not, most people who utilize falsetto because they can’t reach high notes in their full voice, are not countertenors, not even tenors, but actually baritones. Read on to learn more about it.

As a quick side note at this point, I want to note that women, too, can sing in a less developed falsetto, but most of the time they don’t have a use for it. The only tradition that utilizes female falsetto is classical Indian singing.

1. Falsetto Definition

Falsetto is a type of pseudo-voice, or false voice (therefore false-tto), which results when a man tries to imitate a female voice or sing notes that are higher than his normal range.

Falsetto is not a legitimate, higher version of the male voice, but instead it’s a fake, artificial, and disembodied sound that started and was encouraged in the sacred music tradition because women were not allowed to participate in choirs.

Though up to the 16th century little boys would sing the soprano parts, the Baroque fashion with its intricate and flamboyant designs had a toll in music as well. Melodic lines became too hard for boys to sing and therefore falsettists were called in to take on their place.

Falsettist is somebody who utilizes, usually, only falsetto in his singing. So again, Adam Levine and Chris Martin are falsettists, not countertenors.

In the classical tradition, falsettists can, also, be known as male altos, but I personally feel that this characterization is not appropriate as a female alto sings in full voice, whereas a male alto doesn’t.

Male singers usually switch to falsetto between a C4 and an E4.

2. How Does Falsetto Work?

In normal, full singing, your entire vocal folds vibrate, with the elastic mucous membrane billowing as air passes through, and opening and closing with each vibration. If you’re not squeamish, take a look at this high speed Youtube video of vocal folds vibrating.

In falsetto singing, however, the vocal folds stay open all throughout the sound production and only their edges vibrate as air is blasted through them.

Though it might seem that falsetto is easier to sing because you need less air to produce sound than with full voice singing, it’s actually more strenuous and fatigue can come about really fast.

The reason for this is because although you need less air to make the edges of your vocal folds vibrate, you need to push that air out really fast in order to overcome the stretched vocal fold resistance.

Think of it as trying to make an overstretched guitar chord produce sound. You have to put some effort when striking it. It’s the same thing with falsetto; you have to utilize your diaphragm and tense your abdominal muscles in order to blast out air.

Knowing that it’s only the edges of the vocal folds that vibrate during falsetto singing, it’s also a very good indication of why falsetto sound is so light and lacking in timbre. The warmth and depth of a singing voice is directly correlated to the amount of harmonics that a sound has.

Falsetto lacks harmonicsHarmonics are, basically, secondary multiple frequencies of the primary frequency the air vibrates at when we produce sound. So, if the air vibrates at 261.6 Hz when you sing the middle C, the second harmonic vibrates at 523.2 Hz, the third harmonic vibrates at 784.8 Hz, etc. The more the harmonics you produce, the more full that note sounds.

Since it’s only the edges of the vocal folds that vibrate when singing falsetto, it’s natural that the sound lacks in harmonics, and thus the notes sound light and disembodied.

3. Am I a Countertenor?

Well guys, I’m sorry to say that more than 98% of the times the answer is going to be “no.” But read on to learn why and determine whether you’re part of that 1-2% who gets a “yes.”

Due to the popularity of falsetto singing in pop, musical theater, and gospel music, many singers have realized how to sing in falsetto and are confused as to which voice type category they belong to.

Traditionally, the range of a countertenor extends one octave above tenor range, so the octave starting with C5, with some extreme countertenors being able to sing in the C6 octave. Just to put it in perspective, that’s the real of the coloratura soprano.

What separates a countertenor from a falsettist is his method of sound production. Although in falsetto singing the vocal folds stay open and only their edges vibrate, in countertenoring the vocal folds open and close normally with each vibration cycle and can billow like in natural singing.

This is why even though both countertenors and falsettists can sing the same notes, countertenors can sing in a full, non-breathy voice, and can even utilize vibrato, something falsettists can’t do.

If you feel that you have two different ranges, a baritone range and a countertenor range, you can be sure that you are a baritone with a developed falsetto voice and not a countertenor.

At this point I would like to note that countertenors are NOT castratos. They are men whose singing mechanism has not matured due to hormonal imbalances, and does, therefore, resemble more that of a child. A countertenor who gets treated for this hormonal imbalance, can actually lose his ability to sing so high.

4. How to Sing in Falsetto

All men can sing in falsetto. If you feel that you can’t, worry not. It just means that you haven’t yet realized how to. The best way to figure out how to sing falsetto is to try to imitate a woman speaking or a woman singing.

If you’re a high tenor, you might not be sure if you’re singing in falsetto or not, as you might be able to sing the same notes in full voice. That might, actually, be a good thing, as in the classical tradition singers are disparaged for using falsetto if they can sing the same notes in full voice.

But unless you want to become an opera singer, you have no reason not to utilize falsetto. Many choir directors will, indeed, encourage their singers to use it to finesse their higher notes or even reach them in the first place.

Though it might be counterintuitive, experience has showed us that it’s baritones and not tenors that make the best falsettists. Since more than 65% of male singers are baritones and there isn’t a baritone section in a choir, it makes sense for choir baritones to try to develop their falsetto and transition from full voice to falsetto, and sing in the tenor section.

Extra: Falsetto and Yodeling

So how’s falsetto connected to yodeling? I really wanted to include this part in the post because I found the connection to be very interesting.

Believe it or not, yodeling is not really a different and esoteric singing art. Instead, it’s the ability to move really fast from chest/middle register notes to falsetto notes (in women from chest/middle register notes to head register notes).

Of course there’s a lot of technique involved in learning how to do so properly, but still, you can’t become a great yodeler unless you know how to sing in falsetto. Who knew?

If you think that you learnt something from reading this post, sign up for my newsletter and keep more new cool articles coming.

I would like to thank my good friend, great tenor, and teacher Greg Pyrialakos who helped me write this post by providing me with relevant bibliography, and my amazing lyric tenor husband, George Banis, who was very patient with me while I made him transition from full voice to falsetto and back and quizzed him all the way through.

119 comments

  1. Can you post an articles about operatic tenors, baritones and basses too? Would you mind also including dramatic and lyric categorizations, videos like “What Makes a Great Tenor” and sub categorizations like basso profundo or basso buffo? Thank you.

    • JAQUES ADRIAAN KRUGER

      HI EVERYONE,MY NAME IS JAQUES KRUGER FROM SOUTH AFRICA,IS THERE ANYONE OUT THERE WHO CAN GIVE ADVICE ON HOW I CAN GO ABOUT IN SECURING AN OPERA CAREER AT THE AGE OF 36,I HAVE 10 YEARS OF CLASSICAL VOICE TRAINING AND A TENOR VOICE THAT I HAVE BEEN TOLD,SHOULD NOT GO TO WASTE.
      I DO NOT HAVE FINANCIAL MEANS TO STUDY OPERA FURTHER AND IN MY COUNTRY THERE ARE LITTLE OR NO OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE,HOW CAN I MAKE THE “IMPOSSIBLE”, POSSIBLE?

    • Sorry — this article is completely wrong, and comes from the perspective of a tenor. Let’s not consider pop stars as falsetto example, but actual classical singers. Case in point, Bejun Mehta. Clearly a baritone with an average quality of voice. He started using a very strong falsetto, and voila— he’s the counter tenor star he is today.

  2. “If you feel that you have two different ranges, a baritone range and a countertenor range, you can be sure that you are a baritone with a developed falsetto voice and not a countertenor.”

    I feel like I have two different ranges, but I can still do falsetto with vibrato! I would say that there are two different kinds of “falsetto” The “pop” falsetto, and the countertenor “falsetto” that sounds more operatic.

    • I’d have to agree with you with the 2 types of falsetto, as I am also able to sing falsetto with vibrato, and quite powerfully, especially around D5-D6. I’m naturally a bass voice (I can hit E1 with vocal fry, bottom out at D2 without it) and I can transition seamlessly between chest and head voice, no break whatsoever (not even sure if I’m transitioning). I top out and go falsetto after E4, but I can still utilise vibrato. I’ve heard pop falsetto, which I can do, but I feel more comfortable in “countertenor” falsetto.

    • The article is just plain wrong. A countertenor is in fact “a baritone [or tenor or bass] with a developed falsetto voice.”

      Terminology is tricky here — if you define falsetto as having low closure (breathiness), then once someone develops a clearer falsetto, you might say it “isn’t falsetto.” But the article is wrong, because countertenors produce their voices the same way non-countertenors sing falsetto — (good) countertenors have just learned to have better closure.

      • I’d say countertenors sing mostly the same way as female opera singers above B4, the full closure head voice as vocal mode M2, which means thinned folds with shallow vibration. I a way it’s falsetto. Is there always a break?
        I personally may call reinforced falsetto that of countertenors, beacause there is often a timbrical modification or head voice taken lower to emulate the natural range of a much higher voice, in this context “falsetto” is more appropriate than using it to identify a lighter register, as there is nothing false in itself about switching to a high register wihch is part of our range and fully used by sopranos.

  3. I have been singing for years and i have been trying to build my falsetto but its been impossible. Is it common or normal for some singers not to have a falsetto?

  4. As a classical singing student I’m currently being trained as a bass-baritone and a countertenor. In your nicely written and well structured blogpost I have come across some issues which might be confusing for any reader who is looking for answers on singing countertenor voice, whether in ‘full voice’ or ‘falsetto’. I’d like to clarify a few important details and make some remarks as to where I believe your article is incorrect.

    *Brief history of singing* – about voice parts and voice types
    First of all, voicetypes have not always been categorized in the way we currently know. In medieval times, singing was mostly unison and only on special occasions (christmas, easter). Only since polyphonic singing became more common from the 12th century onwards, vocal parts were given a name. One voice ‘held’ the original melody, another was ‘high’ and acted as a ‘contra’-sting voice for the tenor, a third one joined and was called ‘low’ and lastly, a voice on top was added called ‘above’. Only Italian words were used, respectively tenor, alto or contratenor, basso and soprano.

    From the renaissance onwards, which part one sang became synonymous with a certain voice type. So only then singers became known as soprano’s, alto’s or countertenors, tenors and basses, not the other way around.

    Regarding the countertenor voice(PART!), that had indeed mostly been sung by boys, as women and men were seperated within the church: nuns and monks simply lived, prayed and attended mass in seperated monastries. Only with the monks, who naturally had lower voices, there was a larger range in pitch, as they were teaching the young children who could sing as high as women. Secondly, even mature men were — like they are now — capable of producing the same pitches as women with their ‘falsetto’-voice.

    As history entered the baroque era and castrato singing became fashionable. As the high, proud voice technique of the tenor we know now, simply was not discovered yet, no composer wrote for it until the 18th century. But all the more was being written for the castrati, who could not only sing the highest notes a woman could, but also with huge power like any other (normally developed) male voice. Fame and fortune also made sure the best teachers were sent to teach these rare voices… often enough other castrato’s!

    The technique of a tenor singing high notes in full (or at least: non-falsetto) voice came around with Gilbert Duprez, singing the first high C ever written in an opera: William Tell by Rossini. Although contemporary singers have to adapt to very different vocal demands, opera’s were hardly performed twice back in those days, where parts were often even composed with a very specific singer in mind, knowing his/her vocal capabilities.

    *Revival of the countertenor repertoire*
    Only until the last decades there has been a revival of the authentic performance of castrato and male alto repertoire. Alfred Deller started this revival, as he kept on singing alto after his voice ‘broke’. Many others followed his example, and started on perfecting this singing technique: James Bowman, Michael Chance, Andreas Scholl, David Daniels and David Hansen just to name a few (of older and more recent generations).

    Abovementioned men all have soloists voices, capable of enough vocal power to carry their sound over an entire orchestra. Like every other singer, there are differences between their dynamic and expressive range; Scholl and Bowman having a particularly polished and rounded sound, but quite small and with less (perhaps ‘operatic’) possibilities than Daniels and Hansen, who sometimes seem to lack a subtle but powerful ‘pianissimo’. But isn’t this the case with any vocal ‘fach’, like Cecilia Bartoli and Anna Netrebko, both having around the same range, but hardly anything else in common?

    Finally coming to my point, I would argue there is no such thing as being a soprano or tenor more than being a countertenor; one simply *sings* a specific part, written for a voice in the range one is comfortable singing in. That is not saying the countertenor/castrato of past ages is anything like the modern countertenors/falsettists we know today: only the fact that we can never know what the highest male voices sounded like three hundred years ago is enough to state as much.

    *Incorrect assertions*
    Going on, these parts of your text are simply not true nor in accordance with the daily reality I deal with as a singer of both voices.

    – “more than 98% of the times […] “no [you are not a countertenor].” But read on to learn why and determine whether you’re part of that 1-2% who gets a “yes.” […] countertenors are NOT castratos. They are men whose singing mechanism has not matured due to hormonal imbalances, and does, therefore, resemble more that of a child.”
    – “What separates a countertenor from a falsettist is his method of sound production. Although in falsetto singing the vocal folds stay open and only their edges vibrate, in countertenoring the vocal folds open and close normally with each vibration cycle and can billow like in natural singing. This is why even though both countertenors and falsettists can sing the same notes, countertenors can sing in a full, non-breathy voice, and can even utilize vibrato, something falsettists can’t do.”
    – “Knowing that it’s only the edges of the vocal folds that vibrate during falsetto singing, it’s also a very good indication of why falsetto sound is so light and lacking in timbre. The warmth and depth of a singing voice is directly correlated to the amount of harmonics that a sound has.”

    Indeed only the edges of the vocal folds vibrate during falsetto singing. However, a powerful and carrying sound can in general only be made when the vocal folds are closing as in full voice. Whatever regular dynamic differences between singers of the modern ‘countertenor’ fach there might be, if you’ve heard any of them live, you simply cannot say their sound is breathy, light and lacking in timbre because their folds aren’t closing completely. Still, these men have full grown male voices without hormonal disbalances and a ‘regular’ baritone speaking voice.

    Regarding timbre and lightness, and its correlation to harmonics, you are simply wrong. The vocal folds itself only influence the original pitch. Not the vocal folds produce harmonics, the acoustics of the different cavities inside the head do. Some of them being manipulable with muscles (mainly the veil of the soft palate and the tongue) and some being fixed (nasal cavities, hard palate), their resonance varies with pitch and correct technique.

    Concluding, I can tell you my own voice is not only more powerful in the highest register of the countertenor (indeed NOT ‘falsetto’ we can now say) voice, its overtones also bring about more sympathetic resonance in many different objects in my room (glasses, metal casings and a guitar) than those of my baritone voice. Also, I do not need more air singing a phrase in countertenor voice than in baritone voice. Both empirical phenomena confirm my assertion that the vocal folds are indeed closing completely when singing countertenor.

    *Final remark*
    I have only started singing later in my life (early twenties), did not have any choral experience as a child and I have now for the most part developed my countertenor voice (full two and a half octave range), next to my baritone voice (a two and a half octave range as well, with one octave overlapping the countertenor range). Thankfully I had a great teacher in bel canto, who even without ever training a countertenor before, knew how to develop my voice with the teachings of the old masters. Therefore I believe any male singer can learn how to sing countertenor voice without any breathy quality, but with a full, resonant timbre. Keep trying, take good lessons and do not give up on yourself!

    • Hi Nathan,

      Thank you for your very detailed comment. I hope somebody learns something from it.

      What you’re using is actually called reinforced falsetto. It is, indeed, more powerful than simple falsetto and has a full tone to it, but it’s still a version of falsetto that usually only classical singers attain after a very particular training, like the one you’re going through.

      There’s nothing wrong with being a baritone and a falsettist. As there’s a lack of countertenors, a trained falsettist can have a great career.

      Best of luck

      • Hiiiiiiii lol I’m 15(16 in a couple of months) I’m a boy, my voice is deep and it has been like that since middle school. I am also a sophomore in high school. I have been singing for a while now and my range is from G2-D6. I can go from G2-E5 in full voice without straining, and I also can hit a F#5 if I push hard with some strain, which I avoid most often. My falsetto is very high because I can go to a D6 and I also have a whistle register but I can only hit the notes from Mariah carey song Someday when she hits the whistle. I can also hit the notes at the end of Mariah’s Emotion song. Is that weird that I can only hit those whistle notes? Am I a tenor? And voice type am I? My voice is heavy at the bottom of my chest range and when I extend it up with mix it carries some weight. Like I said, I can hit all the way to a F#5 in full voice is that weird? And I know I’m young, but will my voice change dramatically as I get older? Will I keep my range? P.S I LOVE SINGING SO PLEASE REPLEY 🙂

      • Reinforced falsetto or maybe head voice with full cord closure and “compression”. Something even sopranos use in their highest notes, of course their head voice can start later than that of baritones. The highest typicall note of tenors is a mixed voice C5, that of sopranos is a head/late mixed voice C6, I think. This is balanced by the fact baritone’s head voice is thicker.
        If you wanna see a pop version of countertenors, you might see Nick Pitera, Nicola Sedda (covering “All by myself”, very full belted high notes from a baritenor).

      • Where is the scientific base for your terminology, Olga?
        Where is the harmonic analysis that can tell the difference between those that sing countertenor and those that sing falsetto?
        Where is the laryngoscopic evidence that their vocal folds vibrate differently?
        Very interesting. I’d like to hear more of the difference between countertenors and falsettists. You claim a difference, and even have numbers dividing the categories. I wonder where that number came from.

        • I am a professional countertenor myself and totally agree with your comments and analysis.

          Andreas Scholl has a baritone speaking voice and has performed/sung using both his baritone voice and his countertenor voice.

          Olga has got her facts wrong and unfortunately refuses to admit so.

          Philip Rayner, MMus, BMus (Hons)

        • Precisely so. Most countertenors would otherwise be baritones, if they had not trained the fine-edged function of the vocal folds. This article is a lot of nonsense.

          I had kind of thought we had moved past the “countertenor/falsettist” snobbery, but this article indicates that perhaps we have not!

      • Olga I too study baritone and countertenor at conservatory, and have found many errors in the accuracy of this article. I’ve been doing a great deal of research for my voice science courses, and could easily dispel 50% of the data you’ve included on the blog. I urge you to cite where you’ve found this information, because it is nowhere in the literature. This blog was written with a lot of arrogance, and with degrading, out-of-touch style. I urge you to retract or revise.
        -Anthony

      • JAQUES ADRIAAN KRUGER

        I HAVE STUDIED OPERA FOR ABOUT 2 YEARS AFTER SCHOOL AND HAD ABOUT 8 YEARS OF CLASSICAL VOICE TRAINING AS A CHILD ,BEING PART OF A CHIDRENS` CHOIR,HOWEVER,I HAD TO LEAVE THE OPERA SINGING DUE TO THE FACT THAT I HAD TO START EARNING AND MAKING A LIVING FOR MYSELF.
        I AM NOW 36 YEARS OLD AND STILL HAVE THIS AMAZING TALENT.I DEFINATELY WANT TO MAKE A CAREER OF IT,IF AT ALL POSSIBLE….HOW DO I GO ABOUT DOING THIS AND FULLFILLING MY LIFELONG DREAM OF BEING AN OPERA SINGER?CAN ANYONE HELP/GIVE ADVICE

    • Great to hear this, I also heard that baritones’ head voice can be, if supported well, as powerful as their chest voice, but can you blend such countertenor voice with your baritone voice? In theory with adducted head voice you are perfectly able to fade such voice as an extension of your post passaggio note, which, from G4 to C5 will fade into your head voice. There will be a shift in timbre, but very blurred along the notes. I think it’s only such perceived shift in timbre that makes so the opera divide such voices in two range:Chest and early post passaggio tones. And countertenor voice with head voice and anticipated passaggio into the 4th octave, but actually it’s one full range.
      Olga, calling it reinforced falsetto is all about good :), many would call the male head voice like this because it’s perceived as “fake” compared to the “normal” range. But then, women opera voice would be using reinforced falsetto for the 5th octave as well. That said i heard using reinforced falsetto referred as a form of falsetto with support and more adduction of vocal cords, but yet not as much as the head voice and hence more trouble connecting it without lightening the 4th octave notes to blend and avoid the break.
      In head voice, there is no need to lighten the typical range that much to avoid the break during a slide.
      What happens when singing countertenor though, there is usuall less twang and more relaxation, and usuall the C5 would not be such a high note and will be faced as much clearer and brighter than you would if you were to fully support each note ad maximum power.
      This doesn’t indicate impossibility of reinforcing actual tenor range with proper technique, but obviously the countertenor technique alone doesn’t grant it, because not all notes are at full power, as it is a soprano head voice emulation mode, which also emulates some early mix voice soprano notes with male head voice.

    • Hi Nathan,
      Just to call attention to one paragraph in your response above:

      “Regarding timbre and lightness, and its correlation to harmonics, you are simply wrong. The vocal folds itself only influence the original pitch. Not the vocal folds produce harmonics, the acoustics of the different cavities inside the head do. Some of them being manipulable with muscles (mainly the veil of the soft palate and the tongue) and some being fixed (nasal cavities, hard palate), their resonance varies with pitch and correct technique.”

      This is, actually incorrect. It comes out of the E.G. White sinus resonance method, which has propagated in the countertenor world primarily through the work of Mr. Peter Giles. There is not a shred of credible data that suggests this is true, and in fact all current scholarship (and many models used to demonstrate the function of the voice) rests on the theory that the folds do indeed create harmonics in the harmonic series. In fact, “pitch” as a cognitive construct depends on the presence of those harmonics. Otherwise the “original pitch” you reference above would only be a sine wave, not the rich and timbrally complex phenomenon we experience. These harmonics are then filtered (some amplified, others attenuated) by the vocal tract. One need only watch a video (and do a spectral analysis of the audio) of an excised cadaver larynx made to phonate to disprove the sinus resonance theory. In general, the sympathetic vibration that takes place within the sinus cavities (excepting the nasal cavity in some cases) makes no meaningful contribution to the radiated sound. The sinus resonance theory is both debunked, and maybe more importantly, not necessary to explain the countertenor phenomenon. We should let it go.

      All best,

      Ian Howell
      Professor of Voice
      Vocal Pedagogy Director
      The New England Conservatory of Music
      Boston

  5. Do you have any comment or advice for a counter tenor (or falsettist) who is most comfortable in counter tenor range, but who really wants to sing baritone, in order to sing the music he loves the best? (musical theatre, cabaret, light pop.)

  6. We’ll I’m a classicly trained countertenor voice I sing In mezzo-soprano range and I can sing soprano and my chest voice is really high for a tenor I sang alto in my chest voice so I can say I’m a countertenor 🙂

  7. You’re wrong when you say guys go into falsetto from C4-E4. I’m a tenor and the first note I sing in falsetto is Bb4.

  8. Hiiiiiiii lol I’m 15(16 in a couple of months) I’m a boy, my voice is deep and it has been like that since middle school. I am also a sophomore in high school. I have been singing for 3 and half years now and my range is from G2-D6. I can go from G2-E5 in full voice without straining, and I also can hit a F#5 if I push with some strain, which I avoid often. My falsetto is very high because I can go to a D6 and I also have a whistle register but I can only hit the notes from Mariah carey song Someday when she hits the whistle note. I can also hit the notes at the end of Mariah’s Emotion song. Is that weird that I can only hit those whistle notes? And voice type am I? I am a leggerio tenor since I can hit a F5 with my upper chest register? My voice is heavy at my low register of my chest range and I sound like a baritone. Also, when I extend it up with mix it carries some weight. Like I said, I can hit all the way to a F#5 in my upper chest resgister, is that weird? And I know I’m young, but will my voice change dramatically as I get older? Will I keep my range? P.S I LOVE SINGING SO PLEASE REPLY

  9. Hello, I am a striving male vocalist trying to figure out whether I am a baritone or a counter-tenor; however, your article still makes me somewhat confused.

    My vocal range currently (with little training) is F2 to A5. I feel I have two different voices, my lower voice (which I don’t think sounds baritone) and my falsetto which spreads from around D4 to A5. My falsetto can use vibrato and sometimes I find it helps in reaching the A5. I also feel like I could go higher under the right circumstances and, perhaps with proper training, I could. I’ve been told before that my tone in the higher register could make some female vocalists jealous.

    I guess my question is if I’m using vibrato in the upper register, is that a sign that I’m a countertenor?

  10. Very interesting . Do you mean the Natur an contertenours are rare, rarer than high soprano women ?

  11. Though much of your description of falsetto is accurate, I’m afraid that your definition of the countertenor “voice type” is not in line with the currently accepted definition, which might lead your readers to incorrect conclusions about their voices.
    The current most widely accepted definition of a countertenor is a male who has made the conscious choice to develop his falsetto register, enabling him to sing in a range most often inhabited by the female voice. Your definition is more in line with the seventeenth century definition of a countertenor, which was neither a castrato, nor a falsettist. In modern times, this type of voice is called the “tenorino.”
    You are correct in stating that it is possible through training to achieve fuller closure of the glottis (a “reinforced falsetto”) than would be observed in most males singing falsetto , which is what most, if not all countertenors who have reached a professional level are able to do.
    I would also point out that the question of a female equivalent to what would be termed “falsetto” in the male voice is largely moot, as the majority of the female’s range is encompassed by cricothyroid (CT) dominant laryngeal “vibrational mode two,” which is what males would call “falsetto.”
    One of the causes of some confusion on this issue is the evolution of terms such as “falsetto,” which was used to refer to the castrati in early treatises. Terms such as “head” and “chest” register also do not have universally accepted definitions, and often mean different things to men and to women. Though much work has been done to arrive at universally accepted, objective definitions for these terms, we still have a ways to go.

    • This pretty much sums it up. Singing is not such a great mystery. All voices, male or female, transition into falsetto, or light registration, at about e-g above middle C. So women, who mainly sing above this transition area are mostly singing in light register, or falsetto, and men, who mainly sing below this transition area, are mostly singing in heavier register.

      When male or female singer pass the area, their voices will change into the heavier or lighter register.

      There is nothing wrong with either register. Falsetto is a legitimate choice. Expert singers learn how to fool the listener’s ear into hearing a unified register, but there is no such thing. Tenors, for example, may either darken or brighten the timbre in the transition area to mask the change as the vocal folds drop mass and the overtones change.

      Countertenors are simply baritones who sing entirely in falsetto. A tenorino is a tenor who sings with very little vocal fold mass, and thus uses falsetto in a lower range than a countertenor.

      All voices are unique in terms of comfortable range, overtones and power, and every voice will be most comfortable in certain categories (tenor, soprano, etc), and faecher (spinto, lyric, etc). But, every voice follows the same laws of physics, so the transition points are close and all can use falsetto and basic voice at the appropriate point.

      • “Countertenors are simply baritones who sing entirely in falsetto. ”

        This is completely false. In my case when singing ‘gender bender’ songs, my speaking voice – which is that of a fourteen year old boy- projects with more power without even going to chest voice, and with resonance- with ease.
        When speaking to a friend on a phone in a crowded room , or chatting as you and your friends part ways, you naturally raise your vocal pitch by speaking louder , or projecting using only your diaphragm, not artificially by using chest or head voice.
        As you two get further away you continue speaking louder by projecting your voice with your diaphragm, Not with your throat (yelling and screaming are two exceptions, neither of which I’m talking about here).
        Similarly, this is one way that separates the two methods of vocal production. Countertenor singing takes great diaphragm control and lung capacity. As for me, if I eat or drink even a little before performing, I have difficulty producing the full notes in my higher countertenor register using my stomach voice (F4-A5).

        Projecting your voice lets you speak in your diaphragm or base of your stomach. The tone one uses here is richer and fuller than using falsetto (throat voice in men).
        As the result of underdeveloped vocal folds many listeners express shock whenever I perform gender benders in public. For myself and some others it comes down to projecting your voice relaxed- withOut pushing or straining it- to produce those higher notes.

        On another note (excuse the pun), I agree with Chris- one can sing falsetto with vibrato. I did it briefly and with success before my voice instructor advised me to sing normally.

        When Not performing and quietly singing female songs in the higher register so I use falsetto then- because reaching those needed A5-A6 notes using my chest voice i.e. withOut falsetto equates to ‘disturbing the peace’. It’s safe to say that most people don’t like to be startled :O

  12. I can’t agree with your assertion that a falsettist can’t use vibrato. I’m a tenor-baritone who has a reasonable higher falsetto (definitely not countertenor as there is a clear break and change in tone when I enter falsetto). I can easily sing with vibrato in my falsetto voice as can many other falsettists I know. I’m not sure where the idea that falsetto is devoid of vibrato comes from.

    • I agree with you on that. Not only falsetto can have a vibrato, but I have some doubt that what you and her call falsetto is actually head voice. I mean how sopranos and mezzos sing notes from F5 onward or nearby the high C6? Same thing do the baritone after high C, sometimes earlier, but that happens if you are still supporting the voice but just in a much more relaxed way, in this case it’s legit to exaust mixed tones as early as A4, it’s still not falsetto if it’s supported and connected, plus it can have some twang to make it more mix or chesty sounding.
      Falsetto can have vibrato, the natural one I mean, but only if it’s supported and relaxed, am I right? The throat has to be open even in this case though, this kind of falsetto comes from a quasi-connected fold coordination and it doesn’t have a ground breaking volume but it can be heard in a theater with a light orchestra because it’s a bit airy and doesn’t have appoggio (a strong, classical support). Unlike full head voice it can’t pass a heavy one.
      Both women and men have falsettos. Falsetto is usually what voices cracks into when one doesn’t support a high note well, there is not enough energy and the sound loses harmonics. Somtimes it involves a not fully open throat.
      I’m curious on what kind of falsetto does Philip Bayley uses, it sounds free enough and it’s very extended, but doesn’t ring quite as a very open and resonant sound, like a head voice, it’s sometimes pinchy.
      Why do you have an abrupt change in tone when you enter falsetto? If you use mix voice, you should be able to smoothly connect the registers and going up without a break, just slowly fading into the lighter coordination of head voice.

      • Hi Antome,

        Thanks for your viewpoint on this.

        When I say there is a clear break in tone when I enter falsetto I’m talking about the range where I would usually use my head voice, not at the higher range where I would most probably use falsetto when I am actually singing in the choir. I can ‘flip’ from my chest to my head voice from about A3 – F4/G4 and head/mix voice into falsetto in the range between about B3/C4 and about A4-C5 depending on time of day and if I’ve had a heavy night before (so there is, for me at least, a good 3 or 4 notes where I can sing chest, head and falsetto, that’s why I describe myself as a tenor-baritone)! That’s where I can see the difference, but I can still execute a vibrato (not a chin wobble) on the falsetto side although the notes are pretty weak in the lower part of that ‘cross over range’. Obviously higher up the change isn’t not really noticeable and I drift into falsetto above a certain point.

        • I hear that a generation of girls named AVA will come of age in a few years. One hopes a few of them will beomce famous scientists or athletes. (I could live without the tedious reality stars.) The Great Gardner has had a lock on AVA for ages.

  13. Hi, I love ur page and site, i’ts amazing and has a rich material. I saw a post about contertenour. I would love know If I Am or if it’s falsetto because my teacher told me that i Have a C6 Mixed. I wanna know cause my low register is so dark and metallic, remember a low tenor and my mix chest voice with natural drive… But my head mixed so high, bright and powerfull. My head so metallic and looks like a lil motor in the back. =)) Could U talk something about it? =))

  14. my ten year old boy is very keen about singing. However I have mixed feelings about him. He seems to sing like an adult male tenor but it seems as if he is straining his throat to bring it out. He feels comfortable using it and often switches to it when i ask him to use normal voice. In normal voice he does not reach all notes. For example he reaches very well the shame part of i dreamed a dream and can go very high using the male voice. I have been advised by some not to let him use that voice till he is old enough while others encourage him to use it. Does anybody know what type of voice he may have?

  15. HI THERE!
    Please tell me… e’m I a countertenor?
    If yes… mezzo or soprano range?
    (Chest:C3-E4) (Middle: F4-D5) (Falsetto: E5-B5) (Whistle: B5-E6)
    3.3 octaves
    Below G3 is dificult
    Above E6 I feel a little strain
    Confortably singing between G#3-D6

  16. Hi guys am I a counter tenor I can sing from e2-c6 normally and my falsetto goes all the way to c7 on extreme?

    • That’s a countertenor range, but it’s the ability to sing such repertoire convincingly that makes anyone a countertenor ;).
      E2 to c6 “normally” you said? Well not even women use the same vocal mass and thickness from their lower notes to c6 which is a high note even for a soprano, I’d say that between C4 and F4 you have to mix if you want to be able to soar with control, balance and power. And by the 5th octave you are pretty much using a thinner fold production, probably head voice. If you feel you are singing it normally, it might be a very good sign, suggesting that you have a smooth transition between registers, then you probably break to whistle, not even falsetto.

  17. I find most of this information to be false considering falsetto is your head voice not someone trying to imitate girls singing. People use falsetto to add style and add a cool effect for example in the song “Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera the last note is lower pitched then the G# he hit in his chest voice(very high notes for most people who are not tenors to hit) but he did it in his falsetto to add an effect/style to it. Adam Levine does not sing in falsetto he sings in mixed voice I know this because I went to the same camp where his band got started and his vocal coach said it was mixed voice.

    • I see head voice as a contination of mixed voice, it’s lighter or upper side. Mixed voice having de-coupled vibrating components unlike chest voice, with light components more prominent, head voice should instead be partial folds. Falsetto instead has less power and closure, it’s locked on medium to low volume dynamics.

  18. I’m fourteen and I really love singing. I love to use my falsetto, but it’s always reinforced and I can’t get it sound like the falsetto pop singers use that is light. Mine is rich and powerful. HELP PLEASE!

    • Hi, I’d want to have had your “problem” at your age and until recently ;). I’d say just dial down your support and/or open you folds more, like when you whisper. That’s unfortunately how we unintentionally break into falsetto if we don’t support it rightly or blow too much air, a clear and devoid of harmonic voice comes out. Many singer can only use that kind of falsetto, as effect, yours is a stregth, use it. But hey did your voice already fully drop at fourteen?
      When you think about light falsetto, do you think about Mika or an even lighter one? Mika seems halfway between reinforced and standard, because it’s less airy but doesn’t ring quite as a rich and powerful tone as you said.

  19. I’m sorry to say, but this article is flooded with wrong information.

    • I think she’s using classical voice parameters, hence she probably thought every role as a corresponding vocal fach, like tenor, baritone etc, which are different roles and ranges, but followed by a selection of the type of voices which most naturally fit such range.
      So she didn’t consider this doesn’t fully apply to men singing baroque repertoire, we have the roles and sets of range of countertenors, like contraltist, sopranist, but this time we don’t have a selection of high voices, most of the time, rather most of them are baritones, we have instead men using the upper part of their range, like head voice, light mixes or forms of falsetto, more rarely we have male alto or “contraltino” a particular kind of tenor with similar folds as a female contralto, which can sing Alto baroque parts in mix before entering fully into head voice, unlike baritones, but just because his voice naturally lies higher, so their “gear” fully shifts higher and having less dark overtones it’s less glaring than in lower voices.
      That’s why there are no “true” sopranist men, only a few true man sopranos, for whom the sopranist repertoire is not as extreme and doesn’t lie in his highest head tones. Sopranist is then who ever can convincingly pull off this repertoire, it’s a role and range, while traditional fachs are also voice types, in theory, but if we accept some leeway, some baritones can convincigly sing tenor, but it will require more training and it will sound different.
      Another error so, might the concept of Adam Levine singing only falsetto, as even admitting he uses falsetto and not head voice, he’s using chest in his lower to mid range. Even more so with Chris Martin.
      And even countertenor don’t always only use head voice, it depends on the style.
      The classical terminology identify head voice with something called mix, the voice in the middle of gear shifting, it only aknowledges complete gear shift to women still calling it head voice, while when it happens in men they invariably call it falsetto or reinforced falsetto, while spectrograms ans stroboschopies, recognized in both women and men the difference between head voice and falsetto and both having them, just spanning different ranges.
      This kind of voice also has vibrato.

  20. “The only tradition that utilizes female falsetto is classical Indian singing.” Care to explain?

    • I dunno very well about classical Indian singing, but I found out that in pop modern Indian songs, the female singers often seem a thinner vocal production, compared to males and western women singers.

  21. That’s cool I’m in that 1-2% stretching from C2 to E5 all in chest voice….
    With that being said, range and quality wise, is there a category for one with such a vast range? Or do we simply sing the parts we please.

    • Pure chest voice? Maybe mixed, I think you would be straining at least from G4 on if that was pure chest.
      Between C#4 and F4 there is a passaggio for alla males, and that slightly changes the vibratory pattern progressively into head voice. The difference is the tension of the vocal cover and ligaments, which is lower when you are in chest pull up chest*
      *By chest and head i mean registers, not resonance, otherwise called m1 and m2.

  22. Indian classical music absolutely does not allow falsetto singing by either females or males. Period.

    • Very interesting, 1st, you mean Asian Indians or Natives of America?
      2nd, would you like to post a link, maybe Youtube? 🙂
      Thanks you so much.
      That post made me think of pop indian where women seem to use a relatively shrill voice, but it doesn’t seem fluty like falsetto indeed.

    • – Ok me again I had to say it again This is one of the most beautiful post I have ever seen. I think I loeokd at it about 20 times today. It speaks to me so much and I absolutely adore it. Congratulations again!

  23. This article is really cool! I’m 16 and my chest voice goes from F2 to G#4, then i use my mixed voice from A4 to D5, and i can reach in falsetto/headvoice an A5…..am i a tenor? can you please tell me?

  24. Hi. I have been in choir and chorus for years. I am 27 now. I remember in various groups my teachers and professors from school told me that I was a Tenor, with a light, lyrical tone But I also have an extensive use of Falsetto range as well. My teacher last told me I had a A2-A5. then my falsetto extends a few notes above that and the teachers were impressed that I can hit both the F5 and C5 or High Tenor C. I can control my falsetto with vibrato and make it sound more like head voice I guess but for years I’ve sang pop n r n b and have sang mostly female singers like Whitney or Celine or Mariah or nowadays Ariana Grande. I was always told I was a tenor II in class. I watched the guy who holds the world record for highest note, and hit the soprano C in my falsetto, but I have never really taken formal training, so what does this all this mean for the type of tenor I am, please help me. thank you.

  25. PS- So pretty much I wanna know if my choir teachers were right if im a light lyrical tenor or not. since I can hit High Tenor C, and F5. and In falsetto I can hit the soprano C if I try…. But usually I don’t hit or Use soprano High C. So what kind of tenor am I? and what is my range, considering I have hit High C in both Tenor and soprano range…. within my falsetto. But normally im A2-A5. and how many octaves is that for a guy?. I guess the falsetto range I have confuses me as to where in Tenor voice I fall?. so Please tell me something to help me know. thank you. anf again ive sang for years in school and college choirs and I have bits of formal training but not really serious formal training. its pretty much natural vocal ability. so what’s all this mean for my tenor voice type?. Help me. thank you.

  26. Dedrick McAlmont

    HI, I’m 15 and I like to sing in my falsetto, it it doen’ts always work. Usaually I can only sing in my falsetto in the afternoon and night, and if I do it too much it stops working until it “recharges,” what could be the poblem and how could I fix it.

  27. Hello, I am confused about my voice type. I am in 9th grade and have been singing choir since six grade. My range is very bad. Comfortably I can go from a G2 to a B4, and my entire range(non falsetto) is E2 to E3. What voice type would I be. My voice change happened two years ago. I don’t have a true baritone sound but I am definitely not a center I do not have the brightness or the range to build tenors. I’m very confused. Please respond, it would mean a lot to me, thanks.

    • I’m sorry I meant to say B3

      • Voice type is almost irrilevant in modern music and your voice changed too recently.
        You mean E2 to E4, as comfort zone it might seem a baritone range, I guess, but that “ceiling” seems related to pushing chest up too much and/or not shifting resonance or twanging enough at that point, it’s hardly your limit, most certainly not. Or you even mean E5?

        • Oh you mean B3? sorry. Well that’s quite low, if that’s your full voice limit it’s possible that you keep your folds contracted, maybe push back your tongue, keep your resonance too low.
          But how can you go comfortably up to B4 then?
          No I’m misunderstanding again, maybe the correctiong is about B4=B3, not to E3?
          But E3 is extremely low as non falsetto limit, that changes things, so it meant exactly what you said?
          Ok you could be a bass, this might mean you either are extremely far from your true limit (which is much higher in any case) and are just contracting your folds too much. In this case, you probably have almost an octave below your current low limit.

  28. Really bad article, you just showed that u know nothing about countertenors at all. With this text you just messed things up and confused many people.

    Being countertenor is not about hormones or other problems. Guys with such are called male-sopranos, like Michael Maniaci. they have the same voices types as castrati had. some of them are castrated probably anyway. There are few of them and it’s not required to be one to become a countertenor. It’s all about technique. so 99% of Countertenors ARE guys who use reinforced falsetto. Everyone who can sing falsetto can eventually train and develop operatic technique to become a countertenor.

    Also, baritones have the best falsetto and are the best countertenors. although every man can develop countertenor range, 99% countertenors are actually baritones with the richest countertenor voices that match even these of castrati. AND IT IS possible to be both baritone and countertenor. though the training part is hard, as one octave is overlapping and different techniques are used to produce the sound.

    And one more mistake, you CAN use vibrato when using falsetto. even when it’s not reinforced.

    • That’s the point, countertenor is a role, not a voice type. If any, the corresponding voice type would be mezzo-soprano, which naturally lies closest to that range.
      Turns out, at the end it’s tenors who have the worse falsetto, why so?
      I say that because it turned out that in opera, the female “head voice”, used above C5 or around there, is many times their light register, M2, and countertenors use the same register and resonance strategy (not overly twanged toward lighter vowels), so it’s mostly the same voice production.
      If female falsetto sounds that full, as well as that of baritones and basses, why is tenor falsetto particularly weak compared to them?
      And we are talking about M2 without air and effective compression, which if we want to call it falsetto, we should not distinguish between genders. Otherwise it becomes an artistic term based on some canons of vocal consistency.

      • actually i know some tenors who are countertenors too. search for jacek laszczkowski. he started as a tenor, but he was more successful as a sopranist.

        anyway can u give me any bass guy who made his career as a countertenor? as far as i know, i saw bass-baritone as the lowest voice to become a countertenor. never a true bass. it looks to me like it’s bass guys who have worst falsetto, but i can be wrong.

        • Sorry I didn’t saw your reply, as this board has no notification system :/.
          Head voice is a resonance and as some basses have a formidable A4, and even if still in “full voice”, it changed the resonance to a lighter strategy. So there is no reason why they should have a worse head register :).

  29. This post is absolutely full of rubbish. Please do not advise anyone on the subject of singing!
    Countertenor singing is almost always based on strengthened falsetto and a good technique with a few exceptions. Alto is the proper term for male singers who sing above tenor and below soprano/mean it means ‘high’. Contralto is the proper term for women who sing at similar pitch.
    There is nothing odd or hormonally imbalanced about singing as a falsettist/countertenor/male alto or whatever you want to call it. Good singing is good singing regardless of voice type as long as a good technique is in place and musical intelligence applied.

  30. hyy…am Robert from Nigeria..i can hit an F#4 falsetto nd B2 low note my highest iz C#4…wot voice type am i

  31. I’m a new beginner …I could lip trill to c6
    but I often get alot of vocal tension by a5
    How do I relieve the tight throat…

  32. hi please I am not sure if I am male alto
    or countertenor as I have usually been
    classified as both….I have a tessitura
    (comfort zone) of C3 to E5 which is
    better said as chest voice and I can go
    all the way up to D6 in my head register
    and in whistle register to A6 which I am
    still perfecting and I have a flexible,
    warm,rich,strong,agile and bright kinda
    like a male version of naya rivera(aka
    Santana Lopez in glee) voice……
    generally
    vocal fry: C2 to C3
    chest and middle voice: C3 to E5
    falsetto note: F5(not so strong its light)
    head voice: G5 to C6
    whistle voice: F6 to A6 (which am still
    working on) am 16 years old
    and a total range of C2 to A6 please
    what would that make me be.please
    reply soon.

  33. Name: Terry
    Age: 16yrs(male)
    Low range: C3 to F3
    Middle range: F3 to C5
    High range(Falsetto or Head voice):C5 to. C6
    I have a similar voice to that of Mitch Grassi of ”Pentatonix”.
    So what voice type do I have? Please help……. ????

    • Though it depends more on timbre and resonance than range in itself you are possibly a male alto or mezzo.
      Depending on your technique if you are higher than a tenor you could be using full voice at least up to D5 with some ease with medium technique.
      If by head voice you mean resonant, supported and non breathy voice which however shares the same mechanism of falsetto (partial vibration) and not “full voice” with head resonance, I’d say you could take the latter higher, but at those pitch you don’t really need it, and head voice with twang (pharingeal resonance) support, larynx control, some vowel modification, can well sound like belt.
      Take the falsetto of Jason Derulo, which is a mid tenor it seems, considering it’s a studio registration, his falsetto starts to be supported above C5, between F and G#5 it sound surprisingly like a woman belt :D.

  34. Hey tsup

    Range :
    Chest F#2 to A4
    Weird hybride? B4 to A5
    Falsetto F4 to F#5
    Whistle register A5 to 7D solid sustainable and vibrato .

    Hey dude that wrote the article , i feel really offended by the assumption you made about what you thought about
    guy´s whom can sing in the countertenor range have had hormonal imbalance . I am 18 and singing as long as i can remeber and somehow achieved a range of F#2 to D7 using whistle register . i start going into whistle at a A5 up till that point i geus i have both an unconnected part of my chest voice and felsetto that rathers stops at a G5 at max . i cover philipe jarousky and Alessandro Moreschi ave maria obviously i lack much technique so belive me when i say hormonal imbalance is not always the case when i take you down to a low f#2 . tho i just started learning belting to connect my chest voice parts so far a A4 is what coming out before i think i´m running into a point that my voice starts sounding like that typical high rock and roll screams and it starts taking less afford

    This register that i have where in i sing this countertenor part is something i have learned not to long ago so i’m
    pretty new at it like i sad i sounds a little like something hard rock screams but these last few days learned some better techniques so i wonder what this voice is classified as

    The whistle register is something i have been experimenting with for a year sins i heard a male cover of Mariah Careys Emotions so after some time trying different things i have learned to use my whistle voice for full songs usually 1 octaves higher then the original just by doing that .

    some analyzing is appreciated
    Peace

    • Hi, as usual in the singing and music world, it’s a semantic problem. She used countertenor in the sense of a voice type, like Soprano to alto to tenor to Bass fachs would be voice suited for the tessitura of that role. But such fachs are actually also roles with average range and tessituras, which have become popularly synonims of voice types. The countertenor has become an exception, of course if you want it to match a male voice type, you would have naturally high male voices like Mitch Grassi, Chris Colfer, which are apparently just higher than average male voices or Radu Marian and Michael Maniaci which folds didn’t grow longer like most males due to endocrinous reasons (mostly only local, I think), hence the “hormonal imbalance” argument.
      But most popular countertenors like Philippe Jaroussky or Andreas Scholl are actually baritones which developed a form of light head voice of a well reinforced falsetto to sing in the castrati repertoire. They basically extended their range like you.
      It’s as if one day became popular, for historical reasons, for tenor arias to be sang by lower voices, like “baritones” (naturally closer to the tessitura of the baritone part) trained to sing the high notes of the tenor parts.
      Coming to your voice.
      Your “chest” range, sounds like a baritone chest range slightly stretched, but I guess it depends on what you mean by chest an A4 in pure chest tends to be quite forced and heavy on the folds. Baritones usually can stretch a bit lower than F#2, but it’s not a matter of range at the end, more of timbre and resonance and the bridge sensitive parts of the range, which is the passaggio, where the voice most feels the tendency to flip into falsetto.
      I’m curious more about your weird hybrid range, might it be light mix?
      Some people claim registers are separated neatly but can be bridged, but you can have chest and head voice within the same full register, the head voice is then defined by upper reasonance, often times an increased pharingeal resonance obtained by “twanging” the epiglottic funnel and narrowing the space above the folds. You should have a bit of it throughout your range, but upper harmonics and formants, more present in the higher range, are best highlighted by such range.
      Also head voce, means shifting from shorter contracted fold muscles to less contracted and lengthened fold muscle. Apparently this will counterbalance the increase in pressure by reducing the adductory force of the muscle which when contracted and shortened bulges by pressing the folds together.
      The register shift, instead reduces the effort by decreasing the mass. It might be what happens to your voice after A4, imho, I believe in the existence of a mixed registers where the surface of folds and the muscle both vibrate but separately, so yeah you might be able to seamlessly bridge it. But essentially such hard rock scream sounding register seems to be the same as the falsetto, just the tone is completely different than falsetto, twang is present, the folds are adducted, so it sounds like belting but brighter.
      That takes you higher than breathy falsetto, which I think is because breathy tones are harder to sustain when your folds are that tensed.

  35. Am I a countertenor or tenor?
    Lowest note I can sing comfortably is G3
    Highest note with full voice is F5
    And with head voice I can sing to E6 or even F6

    • G3 just below the Middle C lowest C of a flute, first line treble clef? Sounds like a a high soprano lower limit, as Yma Sumac, a particularly range skilled peruvian soprano could descend down to a relatively solid B2! Your lower limit is the same of Mado Robin, high soprano famous for her full head voice B6 (maybe well mixed whistle though, like I think ayone above D6 is).
      But you said comfortably. You mean with satisfiying resonance? Range alone lends for a wide circle of inaccuracy, as you can be anything from a middle high tenor to a soprano, how is your timbre?
      Bruno Mars also rarely sings below F3, be he can go below, Michael Jackson, a similar fach as him, could descend down to F2.
      What do you mean with full voice, belting voice?, Pure chest, it is likely limited by your technical abilities. But your passaggio is lower for sure, do you force above G4 or release into mix (the cry sensation)?

      • I’m forcing my voice above F5

        • see the 15 inchers in this post, they are towards the second part of the post: . You don’t have many options in your budget, I’d consider the Hp Envy 6, the new Asus S56 and the Dell XPS 15z/14z.AMD laptops are less powerful than Intel ones, also eat more battery, but they are siicnfgiantly cheaper. Have a look at the HP Envy 6z Sleekbook.Not sure why you have HP out of your list though…

  36. Hi i’m a 15 year old guy who would like to keep my name a secret. When i sing in my lower register with my chest voice i feel like my range is too high for a guy like a E3 for example , but it’s only with my comfortable range in my lower range, and when i sing in my upper range i can go as high as a G5. My falsetto sound a loud and powerful than others and it has this very strong vibrato, and whenever i try to imitate a female opera singer my friends would tell me to make it sound a little lighter and brighter. It would often hurt my ears because it would kind of resonate in my head and it seems like breathing when it past through my vocal chords. I have a whistle register too, but i can’t define my range. Please help.

    • Did your voice already change? In case you want some more low notes, you should mix in your fry register (strohbass).
      Is your falsetto disconnected?

      • My voice have already changed three years ago, but my falsetto’s not disconnected. It’s like i have this smooth transition from my modal to my falsetto. Only my whistles and falsettos are disconnected. I can hit low bass notes in my vocal fry and i could also use my modal voice down there, but it feels uncomfortable. Sometimes my speaking range could go high and i could also make exclamations in my flageolet register by laughing, but i wouldn’t notice it. Thanks though.

  37. Hey! What about Leggiero tenor’s upper extension which when not fully developed, sounds almost like a falsetto?

  38. Hi, I am 22 and I’m a guy. I have the tessitura of F4 and higher. My modal register is F2-F3, my chest register is G3, my middle register is E4, my head register is F6, and my whistle register is D7-A8. My voice sounds best around F4-D6. I don’t know if I’m a lyric soprano, a mezzo-soprano, or if I’m something else. Can somebody help me out?

    • With your passaggio at E4 and strong low notes down to F2, sounds like you are a baritone, or maybe dramatic tenor, but certainly not higher, let alone a soprano :D. Soprano and mezzos have a passaggio between G#4 and C5 not E4 and have no easy low notes like F2.
      How do you define where you middle voice starts? Anyway, “middle voice” is certainly modal no less than “chest voice”, if you define it be feeling like you have to drop weight or support more there, that’s a baritone sign you are far from soprano!
      You start to blur the lines between modal and head voice only at E4 and above, but it sounds like you switch to head voice right there, so if you have a countertenor approach of “early bridging” it’s entirely possible you mix, cover and lighten up right above G3, in order to be in head at A4. Mind that you can sound chesty in “head” as well, by twanging, and countertenor is just one of the many sounds and styles of head voice.
      By the description of how you sound, from heavy to light and powerful and probably rounded, seems like you have a developed head voice, so that you sound best in that high range of F4 – F6, which is probably all head voice with little mix.

  39. Sorry I forgot to mention that I have a lot of vibrato and can hold notes for about 25-35 seconds. I also happen to be about 60 pounds obese and I’m about 6 1/2 feet tall.

  40. In my low range my voice is heavy, my voice a little bit bit above middle C sounds warm, and in my high range my voice is light, powerful, and agile.

  41. I am a countertenor and know many of the countertenors one would consider famous (www.terrybarber.com). NONE of us have “hormonal imbalances” hilarious.

  42. Dear Ms. Banis,

    This article would be funny were it not for the legions of 16 year old commenters desperate for good information about their voices. Incorrect information, misuse of terms, and fundamental problems with descriptions of anatomical function and acoustical phenomena abound here. The internet is, of course, a free press, and I applaud your effort to explore and try to understand the countertenor phenomenon. There is no better way to work through your ideas than to write them down. However, you would be better served by asking questions from those of us who do/have done this at a high level, especially those with a solid understanding of the applicable voice science. We are at a wonderful point where countertenoring has never been more widely accepted. We do not (as a community) need pieces like this confusing young singers.

    Sincerely,
    Ian Howell
    Vocal Pedagogy Director
    The New England Conservatory of Music
    Boston, USA
    15 year international performing and recording career as a countertenor

    • Hi, Ian, nice to find you back, you remember? I’m the one who discussed with you about the partial fold function :). I think she has confused roles and tessituras for fachs, Bass, baritone, to mezzo and soprano, are roles, styles and tessituras which is a particular average range in scores. A baritone might sing tenor and in that occasion he would be the tenor, afterall some altos and mezzos magistrally, “Una voce poco fa” and “Carmen”. So a countertenor is anyone which can sing in the countertenor tessitura and sounding good, it doesn’t matter if he uses head voice, if such head voice sounds full, powerful, rounded yet light and has volume and dynamic control.
      Apparently such register is M2 with good resonance and adduction, but the partial function is the same as falsetto, but guess what, this same register is used by women in classical singing!
      Can I still ask you something, though, can you really blend the two registers or, as some people say, just mask the switch from M1 to M2?

      • Hi,
        So, for English speakers, the term “roles” means a specific character in a work. I suspect you mean “voice-type,” which is a combination of workable pitch range, the color of the voice, and the pitch points at which certain registration events take place. These qualities tend to be immutable over the short term, though as we age, or as we train, we may certainly notice changes.

        Your definition of countertenor is interesting, but I think it also leaves out some aesthetically and technologically driven aspects. “Countertenor” means that you’re singing music in an environment that requires you to carry acoustically over acoustic instruments. This guides the manner of production and tonal model. Just as one probably wouldn’t suggest that a rock singer has a “soprano voice type,” one similarly wouldn’t suggest that any man singing in a certain range, regardless of the means of production, is a countertenor. My opinion only, of course, but I do spend a lot of time working on this.

        Your question regarding M1/M2 designations and register blending is certainly welcome and interesting. It is, of course, rather complicated. Get a group of singers in a room and ask them about their registers and it will be like the story of 5 scientists describing an elephant by touching it in a dark room. Think of M1 and M2 as ways to describe the basic relationship of muscular antagonism between the TAs and CTs. There are a number of sonic qualities associated with those general patterns of dominance that may easily be transferred from one to the other. So some would say that “mix” is this transfer of qualities without the continuation of the basic laryngeal antagonism. Others would describe their “mix” as being fundamentally different from M1 or M2. This is likely also true, as some singers will be able to utilize a more subtle degree of balance than others.

        Honestly, I think that we waste a lot of time worrying about whether sound X is falsetto or not, as though it will prove something in a world where that term means different things to different people.

        • Thanks Ian, yeah I definitely forgot to mention that in the case of male roles from Bass to tenors you tend to have an overlay of such roles and voice type/fachs as a given, rarely detouring from it, though mislabeling has been frequent.
          As said, in the case of countertenor, the ability to control and resonate the head voice becomes the requisite to sing in that range, despite the fact that the physical vocal fach doesn’t match in term of closeness to the range like in the other roles.
          I found out head voice is definitely used in pop repertories, for high notes but it’s treated in a way so that it sounds belted, projected in a forward ringy pharingeal resonance, which has quite a bite. Sounds the countertenor voice might project better, but that applies for belting in general compared to opera, but musical belting also has to project in theater or at least used to.
          C5’s an higher definitely are pharingeal head voice and I suspect the same for many famous tenor high C, aka the resonance managemente makes it sound like closer to the “manly” talked voice or chesty.

  43. OK, I’m confused. I can sing bass an octave below the normal range; nonetheless I can sing a la Andreas Scholl. Well, the same pitch if not the same ‘character’. Can I blend the two registers? I can feel myself making a definite transition at a point in the tenor range. I have to try hard to disguise it.
    My wife tells me she likes my ‘counter-tenor’ voice. I’m not sure whether that’s a complement or whether she dislikes my basso profundo rumbling 🙂

    • pm Adele has scooped the Critics Choice Brit Award for the artsit most likely to be big in 2008. The singer picks up a Brit Award before even bringing out a full single- her recent track Hometown Glory was only limited edition. Adele is likely to be top of many ‘Tips For 08’ lists and will release her debut album early next year along with the single Chasing Pavements. UK Music Guru’s have stated that she is the new Amy Winehouse […]

    • I guess she loves all of your voice and how you are capable of transitioning to a so pleasant tone in a unusually high range for a bass. Take it as great compliment, it means you have a great usable range in which you can sing.
      The bass color and resonance probably helps making your light register naturally deep, but you are likely working on it.
      Yes it’s a different register from the register in which you typically speak (likely) and the one you use in your typical bass tessitura. Yes you can blend them earlier of later depending on the volume you want to use in that area. You can probably blend it at a belting volume if you do that at F4 more or less, as lower voices have more volume in their light coordination at lower notes.
      Yeah, your Headvoice notes probably don’t sound like belting but you can twang them and tune the vowel so they sound mixier – chestier. You can also (and have to, even if you don’t plan transitioning) take the straing off your high chest range, which will give you more range on that register.

    • When you sing in that register you are also likely singing lower notes in that register that you sing in chest when you are in “bass mode”, think about it.

  44. Falsetto is useful if you want to sing Disco, or heavy metal, or glam metal, (or any metal) or want to sing Bee Gees songs in original key, or just want to sing high notes.

  45. I just want to be able to sing like the Bee Gees. I love all of their songs, but their pre-disco songs seems reachable to me. The way they sing just sound so otherworldly.

  46. Hi, it’s me Drew, again. I don’t know much about registers and I think I might have made some on one or more of my posts. I can sometimes hit an F2 and a G2 but it’s not very comfortable. My range I can typically and comfortably sing in is from A3 to F6 or G6. My voice sounds dark and heavy at A3, warm probably around C4 or F4 and bright and powerful at probably an A5 and beyond. My voice goes best with medium paced songs. I harmonize best with women and my talking voice is that of an alto. One thing that I have in common with sopranos is that I can hit higher notes with more ease. I can sing high tenor just as easily as alto and soprano though I tend to sound my best in alto and soprano. I love to sing Titanium by David Guetta featuring Sia by myself in a cappela. I usually start out in alto then go into soprano. I like singing my favorite songs in different keys that I’m able to sing in. I’ve been told that my voice is like a beautiful siren (mythological). I want to become an official singer songwriter, but first I need someone who’s open minded to sponsor me. Most of my dad’s family hate my voice and the majority of my mom’ s family love my voice so much that they want me to fulfill my dream including people outside of my family. People have told me that my voice is a sin just because I have a feminine singing voice. My choir teacher at Soldotna High School has me placed as a a tenor, but he wants them to sound more like a low bass which I can’t do. He also informed me that it’s never okay for a man to sing soprano and alto and actually sound like one unless you’re demonstrating those voice types and he also informed me that I need to get a reality check in vocals. He has us choir students singing with our throats closed. Isn’t that one way to get nodes? If you’re singing in the right key meant for your voice shouldn’t it feel comfortable and relaxing?

  47. Sorry I meant to say all of that, but also a while back I made a few errors previously probably sometime in February.

  48. Oops, it was sometime in January.

  49. Hey, guys. It’s me again. One thing I failed to mention earlier is that of only been in choir for 2 years and I’m placed as a tenor and I used to be able to sing in my high voice but now since last Friday I can comfortably sing from a F sharp 2 to a C7 while sitting down. I know I can comfortably sing higher than that but unfortunately my keyboard starts from C2 and ends at C7. I starting to sound decent in my chest voice, my middle voice, and my head voice. I used to only have good quality in my head voice but now pretty much my whole range is descent. I’m going to turning 23 August 2nd. I’ve heard that the voice doesn’t stop changing til you’re around 25 to 26 years old. Is that accurate? In the past the only note I could comfortably hit with good quality was a G6 and that was before my first singing lessons from my 1st choir teacher. Back then I could only use my head voice. Any accurate info about my possibly singing voice will be highly appreciated. Oh and I’m sorry I’m not trying to brag or even previously I was just trying to give details about my voice. Maybe this will help to: I’m Russian, Cherokee, Kenaitze, Irish, and Alaskan-I might have other races in me as well I just don’t know much about my ancestory. Supposedly were descendants of witches from my mom’s side of the family but I’m not sure from whom.My mom’s family are Christians and a lot of them are arrogant about that kind of stuff. Also some of my dad’s family are atheists and very forceful about it and some think I’m evil and some think I’m downright crazy.

    • Where is your middle voice? Does it blend your chest and head voice? How do you distinguish that from falsetto.
      Which styles can you use in your head voice? Head voice can sound belty with twang and pharingeal resonance, but also countertenorish if you cover.

  50. Hey, I’m sorry about the typos I’ve been using my iPod touch to talk most the time on my posts.

  51. Well, I guess it just goes to show that a willingness to speak arrogantly on a subject about which one is profoundly ignorant never disqualified anyone from being a voice teacher.

    • Don’t be so hard on her, though, she might be a good teacher, but maybe intended countertenor as a voice type instead of a tessitura and a role.

  52. Hi, I’m 16 and I’m a guy.
    My chest voice is from Eb2 to A4/Bb4.
    With head voice and whistles I can easily reach C#6 and (not effortless) even a F#6. I have reached ones a A6.

    What am I?

    • You might be a high baritone or a tenor, sounds like you might be trained in high notes, but also have them relatively easy, almost like a tenor if you can claim such a separation with your head voice, either that or you can’t keep your head voice connected after Bb4, but you call that “chest voice”. Pavarotti connected his head voice up to D5, but his head voice E5 and F4, were quite hooty and falsettoish.

  53. I am male 17 soon will be 18 from malawi .my voice stops and starts vibrating from C4-F5-C6 in my full voice and from D-E7 whistle although i can go far. i start to sing fromt B4-F5 where i sound dark with loud volume and have troubles singing from F5-G5 i feel more comfortable and at my best in my full voice singing from A5-C6 where i sound bright and light and sound like a female classical soprano and my best and beautiful note is B5 the first day i knew my range at first my voice would stop feeling comfortable at C4 but i heard high male voice wud sing from C3-G4-C6 i tried forcing it down cause i couldnt believe that was voice i was 16 that time but my local choir wud classify me as a soprano wen i was a treble cause i had a very light feminine voice while my friends were classified as contraltos i felt ashamed cause all my friends were classfied as alto i forced my self on altos but my voice would clack and would sing from my throat at the end felt my throat sore i stoped the choir cause i didnt want to sing as a soprano and with girls and on alto i was a worse alto wen i was 15 i joined a classic choir wen the master asked me whats my voice type i told him i was an alto but my choir master said i cant sing alto he told me to sing it turned out i was singing soprano but i sounded dark from B4-F5 i suggested to try tenor cause they were less people and he wasnt really conviced of my range i wud sing well but dark from B4-F5 with too much vibrator and could not sustain singing below B4-C4 i seemed too long and forced wud end up sore cause it was my speaking range and wud stop vibrating at C4 wen am alone me as atenor singing with sopranos i wud always start singing soprano but wud stop vibrating at C4 but i wud inhale and force it down to F3 i wud think am sing but my friends wud say they can hear me out the i classfied my self as a countertenor but most arias were still low and too weak for my voice and finally wen i started doing sum exercises to free my voice it still stops vibrating at C4 and i cant force it anymore cause my mouth close my lips seals plz help me to know my voice am i real a countertenor and of subcategory if not wat my voice type and subcategory help cause they are no vocal coaches here i use online to know things help

  54. I mayamiko male 17 old soon will be 18 from malawi .my voice stops and starts vibrating from C4-F5-C6 in my full voice and from D-E7 whistle although i can go far. i start to sing fromt B4-F5 where i sound dark with loud volume and have troubles singing from F5-G5 i feel more comfortable and at my best in my full voice singing from A5-C6 where i sound bright and light and sound like a female classical soprano and my best and beautiful note is B5 the first day i knew my range at first my voice would stop feeling comfortable at C4 but i heard high male voice wud sing from C3-G4-C6 i tried forcing it down cause i couldnt believe that was voice i was 16 that time but my local choir wud classify me as a soprano wen i was a treble cause i had a very light feminine voice while my friends were classified as contraltos i felt ashamed cause all my friends were classfied as alto i forced my self on altos but my voice would clack and would sing from my throat at the end felt my throat sore i stoped the choir cause i didnt want to sing as a soprano and with girls and on alto i was a worse alto wen i was 15 i joined a classic choir wen the master asked me whats my voice type i told him i was an alto but my choir master said i cant sing alto he told me to sing it turned out i was singing soprano but i sounded dark from B4-F5 i suggested to try tenor cause they were less people and he wasnt really conviced of my range i wud sing well but dark from B4-F5 with too much vibrator and could not sustain singing below B4-C4 i seemed too long and forced wud end up sore cause it was my speaking range and wud stop vibrating at C4 wen am alone me as atenor singing with sopranos i wud always start singing soprano but wud stop vibrating at C4 but i wud inhale and force it down to F3 i wud think am sing but my friends wud say they can hear me out the i classfied my self as a countertenor but most arias were still low and too weak for my voice and finally wen i started doing sum exercises to free my voice it still stops vibrating at C4 and i cant force it anymore cause my mouth close my lips seals plz help me to know my voice am i real a countertenor and of subcategory if not wat my voice type and subcategory help cause they are no vocal coaches here i use online to know things help

    • Your voice change might be spread in more years than usual or started later or a combination of the two. Or maybe you got a particularly high voice. But even very high sopranos can sing below C4.
      You have troube writing an that might depend on your mother language, in case you fluently speak English or are an English native speaker, I understand your errors might be dictate by your enthusiasm, but it would be easier for experts to answer your queries if you make it more readable.
      Just a tip ;).
      You could post a sample at 4 shared with a scale Eb4 to F5 then Eb4 to, if you can, C3, so we can assess possible breaks or habits falsating your real fach, as that’s quite unusual.

  55. ”The only place falsettos are used is in Indian classical music” is a TOTALLY FALSE STATEMENT. In fact, Indian classical music is where they are not allowed to use falsettos and are trained to use their chest voice more than their head voice. They use their lungs a lot because most of their Raagas are high. Please get your facts straight before making an article.

  56. What was Freddy Mercury from Queen. His vocal range is amazing. My vocal coach teaches Classical Voice and Gospel Choir, so i’ve taken 4 semesters in both classes. I also take private lessons from him. I still sit in for the sake of review and an opportunity to sing between classes. When he tests the male students vocal ranges as a group, there are only 1-3 students, which includes myself, that can hang in until the end. So I’m a high tenor and I can sing some high end soprano notes that surprise me. When doing so I’m using my head voice w/ a full mask focus, so I get a full sound. I doesn’t sound like falsetto to me, because I honestly can’t tell the difference in quality between the sopranos and myself. The last time I checked, which was awhile ago, I could hit all the notes that a countertenor can. Since then, because of vocalise, my tessitura has expanded. I’m even looking at 1 of my own vocal melodies and where most men start singing in falsetto, those notes are very comfortable for me to sing. So I really don’t know if I’m a genuine countertenor. I do consider myself close to being one. Interestingly, I find it easier to sing soprano melodies vs. alto vocal melodies.

    • Just got back from a voice lesson with my vocal coach and I was able to get the answer to the question that brought me here last night. So if you don’t want to read my previous comment, because it is pretty lengthy, my question was… “As a high tenor, why is it easier for me to sing upper register Soprano notes vs. lower notes in an Alto’s range”? The answer is, Soprano notes are above my Passaggio (the break between the head and chest voice) and the Alto notes fall into my Passaggio. It makes sense, but it still seems odd to me, that higher notes are easier to sing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *