Soprano

A soprano [soˈpraːno] is a type of classical female singing voice and has the highest vocal range of all voice types. The soprano's vocal range (using scientific pitch notation) is from approximately middle C (C4) = 261 Hz to "high A" (A5) =880 Hz in choral music, or to "soprano C" (C6, two octaves above middle C) =1046 Hz or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which often encompasses the melody.[1] The soprano voice type is generally divided into the coloratura, soubrette, lyric, spinto, and dramatic soprano.[2]

Etymology

The word "soprano" comes from the Italian word sopra (which means above),[3] as the soprano is the highest pitch human voice, often given to the leading female roles in operas.[4] "Soprano" refers mainly to women, but it can also be applied to men; "sopranist" is the term for a male countertenor able to sing in the soprano vocal range,[5] while a castrato is the term for a castrated male singer, typical of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries,[3] and a treble is a boy soprano who has not reached puberty yet and still able to sing in that range.[3]

The term "soprano" is also based on the Latin word superius which, like soprano, referred to the highest pitch vocal range of all human voice types.[3] The word superius was especially used in choral and other multi-part vocal music between the 13th and 16th centuries.[3]

Voice type

Soprano voice range on keyboard
Soprano vocal range (C4–C6) notated on the treble staff (left) and on piano keyboard in green with dot marking middle C
{ \new Staff \with { \remove "Time_signature_engraver" } c'4 c'''4 }

The soprano has the highest vocal range of all voice types, with the highest tessitura. A soprano and a mezzo-soprano have a similar range, but their tessituras will lie in different parts of that range.[6]

The low extreme for sopranos is roughly A3 or B3 (just below middle C). Within opera, the lowest demanded note for sopranos is F3 (from Richard Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten[7]). Often low notes in higher voices will project less, lack timbre, and tend to "count less" in roles (although some Verdi, Strauss and Wagner roles call for stronger singing below the staff). However, rarely is a soprano simply unable to sing a low note in a song within a soprano role.[6] Low notes can be reached with a lowered position of the larynx.

The high extreme, at a minimum, for non-coloratura sopranos is "soprano C" (C6 two octaves above middle C), and many roles in the standard repertoire call for C6 or D6. A couple of roles have optional E6s, as well. In the coloratura repertoire several roles call for E6 on up to F6. In rare cases, some coloratura roles go as high as G6 or G6, such as Mozart's concert aria "Popoli di Tessaglia!", or the title role of Jules Massenet's opera Esclarmonde. While not necessarily within the tessitura, a good soprano will be able to sing her top notes full-throated, with timbre and dynamic control.[8]

In opera, the tessitura, vocal weight, and timbre of voices, and the roles they sing, are commonly categorized into voice types, often called fächer (sg. fach, from German Fach or Stimmfach, "vocal category").[8] A singer's tessitura is where the voice has the best timbre, easy volume, and most comfort.

Subtypes and roles in opera

Within the soprano voice type category are five generally recognized subcategories: coloratura soprano, soubrette, lyric soprano, spinto soprano, and dramatic soprano.

Coloratura

The coloratura soprano may be a lyric coloratura or a dramatic coloratura. The lyric coloratura soprano is a very agile light voice with a high upper extension capable of fast vocal coloratura. Light coloraturas have a range of approximately middle C (C4) to "high F" (in alt) (F6) with some coloratura sopranos being able to sing somewhat lower or higher,[9] e.g. an interpolated A6 in the Doll Aria, "Les oiseaux dans la charmille", from The Tales of Hoffmann, e.g. by Rachele Gilmore in a 2009 performance, and a written A6 by Audrey Luna in 2017 in The Exterminating Angel, both at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.[10]

The dramatic coloratura soprano is a coloratura soprano with great flexibility in high-lying velocity passages, yet with great sustaining power comparable to that of a full spinto or dramatic soprano. Dramatic coloraturas have a range of approximately "low B" (B3) to "high F" (F6) with some coloratura sopranos being able to sing somewhat higher or lower.[8]

Soubrette

In classical music and opera, a soubrette soprano refers to both a voice type and a particular type of opera role. A soubrette voice is light with a bright, sweet timbre, a tessitura in the mid-range, and with no extensive coloratura. The soubrette voice is not a weak voice, for it must carry over an orchestra without a microphone like all voices in opera. The voice, however, has a lighter vocal weight than other soprano voices with a brighter timbre. Many young singers start out as soubrettes, but, as they grow older and the voice matures more physically, they may be reclassified as another voice type, usually either a light lyric soprano, a lyric coloratura soprano, or a coloratura mezzo-soprano. Rarely does a singer remain a soubrette throughout her entire career.[1] A soubrette's range extends approximately from middle C (C4) to "high D" (D6).[11] The tessitura of the soubrette tends to lie a bit lower than the lyric soprano and spinto soprano.[6]

Lyric

The lyric soprano is a warm voice with a bright, full timbre, which can be heard over a big orchestra. It generally has a higher tessitura than a soubrette and usually plays ingénues and other sympathetic characters in opera. Lyric sopranos have a range from approximately below middle C (C4) to "high D" (D6).[8]

The lyric soprano may be a light lyric soprano or a full lyric soprano.[6] The light lyric soprano has a bigger voice than a soubrette but still possesses a youthful quality.[6] The full lyric soprano has a more mature sound than a light-lyric soprano and can be heard over a bigger orchestra.[6]

Spinto

Also lirico-spinto, Italian for "pushed lyric", the spinto soprano has the brightness and height of a lyric soprano, but can be "pushed" to dramatic climaxes without strain, and may have a somewhat darker timbre. Spinto sopranos have a range from approximately from B (B3) to "high D" (D6).[8]

Dramatic

A dramatic soprano (or soprano robusto) has a powerful, rich, emotive voice that can sing over a full orchestra. Usually (but not always) this voice has a lower tessitura than other sopranos, and a darker timbre. Dramatic sopranos have a range from approximately A (A3) to "high C" (C6).[8]

Some dramatic sopranos, known as Wagnerian sopranos, have a very big voice that can assert itself over an exceptionally large orchestra (over eighty pieces). These voices are substantial and very powerful and ideally even throughout the registers.[6]

Other types

Two other types of soprano are the Dugazon and the Falcon, which are intermediate voice types between the soprano and the mezzo-soprano: a Dugazon is a darker-colored soubrette, a Falcon a darker-colored soprano drammatico.[8]

In choral music

In SATB four-part mixed chorus, the soprano is the highest vocal range, above the alto, tenor, and bass. Within classical solo singing, however, a person is classified through the identification of several vocal traits, including range, vocal timbre, vocal weight, vocal tessitura, vocal resonance, and vocal transition points (lifts or "passaggio") within the singer's voice.

These different traits are used to identify different sub-types within the voice, sometimes referred to as fächer (sg. fach, from German Fach or Stimmfach, "vocal category"). Within opera, particular roles are written with specific kinds of soprano voices in mind, causing certain roles to be associated with certain kinds of voices.[12]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Stark, James (2003). Bel Canto: A History of Vocal Pedagogy. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-8614-3.
  2. ^ Aronson, Arnold Elvin; Bless, Diane M. (2009). Clinical Voice Disorders (4th ed.). New York, NY: Thieme Medical Publishers. p. 278. ISBN 978-1-58890-662-5. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Soprano", Encyclopædia Britannica
  4. ^ "The Opera 101". Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  5. ^ McKinney, James (1994). The Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults. Genovex Music Group. ISBN 978-1-56593-940-0.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Boldrey, Richard (1994). Guide to Operatic Roles and Arias. Caldwell Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-877761-64-5.
  7. ^ Die Frau ohne Schatten vocal score, Dover vocal scores 2003, act 1, scene 2, 5th bar of figure 102, ISBN 0-486-43127-4
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Coffin, Berton (1960). Coloratura, Lyric and Dramatic Soprano, Vol. 1. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. ISBN 978-0-8108-0188-2.
  9. ^ McKinney, James (1994). The Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults. Genovex Music Group. ISBN 978-1-56593-940-0.
  10. ^ "At the Met Opera, a Note So High, It's Never Been Sung Before" by Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times, 7 November 2017
  11. ^ Music Dictionary Vm–Vz: Voice (s.), Voices (pl.) – coloratura-soubrette or soprano lirico leggiero, Dolmetsch
  12. ^ Appelman, D. Ralph (1986). The Science of Vocal Pedagogy: Theory and Application. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-20378-6.

Further reading

  • Boldrey, Richard (1992). Singer's Edition: Operatic Arias – Light Lyric Soprano. Robert Caldwell, Werner Singer, Joan Wall and Roger Pines. Caldwell Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-877761-02-7.
  • Boldrey, Richard (1992). Singer's Edition: Operatic Arias – Soubrette. Robert Caldwell, Werner Singer, Joan Wall and Roger Pines. Caldwell Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-877761-03-4.

External links

Clef

A clef (from French: clé "key") is a musical symbol used to indicate the pitch of written notes. Placed on a stave, it indicates the name and pitch of the notes on one of the lines. This line serves as a reference point by which the names of the notes on any other line or space of the stave may be determined.

There are three forms of clef used in modern music notation: F, C, and G. Each form assigns its reference note to a line (and in rare cases, a space) depending on its placement on the stave.

Once one of these clefs has been placed on one of the lines of the stave, the other lines and spaces are read in relation to it.

The use of different clefs makes it possible to write music for all instruments and voices, regardless of differences in tessitura. Because the modern stave has only five lines, it is not possible to represent all pitches playable by the orchestra with only one clef, even with the use of ledger lines. The use of different clefs for various instruments and voices allows each part to be written comfortably on the stave with a minimum of ledger lines. To this end, the G-clef is used for high parts, the C-clef for middle parts, and the F-clef for low parts—with the notable exception of transposing parts, which are written at a pitch different from their sound, often even in a different octave.

Coloratura soprano

A coloratura soprano is a type of operatic soprano voice that specializes in music that is distinguished by agile runs, leaps and trills.

The term "coloratura" refers to the elaborate ornamentation of a melody, which is a typical component of the music written for this voice. Within the coloratura category, there are roles written specifically for lighter voices known as lyric coloraturas and others for larger voices known as dramatic coloraturas. Categories within a certain vocal range are determined by the size, weight and color of the voice.

Contralto

A contralto (Italian pronunciation: [konˈtralto]) is a type of classical female singing voice whose vocal range is the lowest female voice type.The contralto's vocal range is fairly rare; similar to the mezzo-soprano, and almost identical to that of a countertenor, typically between the F below middle C (F3 in scientific pitch notation) to the second F above middle C (F5), although, at the extremes, some voices can reach the D below middle C (D3) or the second B♭ above middle C (B♭5). The contralto voice type is generally divided into the coloratura, lyric, and dramatic contralto.

Flugelhorn

The flugelhorn (—also spelled fluegelhorn, flugel horn, or Flügelhorn—from German meaning wing horn or flank horn, German pronunciation: [ˈflyːɡl̩hɔʁn]) is a brass instrument that is usually pitched in B♭ but occasionally found in C. It resembles a trumpet, and the tube has the same length but a wider, conical bore. A type of valved bugle, the flugelhorn was developed in Germany from a traditional English valveless bugle, with the first version sold by Heinrich Stölzel in Berlin in 1828. The valved bugle provided Adolphe Sax (creator of the saxophone family) with the inspiration for his B♭ soprano (contralto) saxhorns, on which the modern-day flugelhorn is modeled.

James Gandolfini

James Joseph Gandolfini Jr. (Italian: [ɡandolˈfiːni]; September 18, 1961 – June 19, 2013) was an American actor best known for his role as Tony Soprano, the Italian-American crime boss in HBO's television series The Sopranos. He won three Emmy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and one Golden Globe Award. Gandolfini’s performance as Tony Soprano is widely regarded as one of the greatest performances in television history.

His notable film roles include mob henchman Virgil in True Romance (1993), Lt. Bobby Dougherty in Crimson Tide (1995), and Mayor of New York in The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009). Other roles are enforcer and stuntman Bear in Get Shorty (1995) and impulsive "Wild Thing" Carol in Where the Wild Things Are (2009). For his performance as Albert in Enough Said (2013), Gandolfini posthumously received much critical praise and several accolades, including a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination and the Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor.

In 2007, Gandolfini produced Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq, a documentary in which he interviewed injured Iraq War veterans and in 2010, Wartorn: 1861–2010 examining the impact of posttraumatic stress disorder on soldiers and families throughout several wars in American history from 1861 to 2010.

List of The Sopranos characters in the Soprano crime family

The DiMeo crime family, later referred to as the Soprano crime family, is a fictional Mafia family from the HBO series The Sopranos. It is thought to be loosely based on the DeCavalcante crime family, a real New Jersey Mafia family.The DiMeo crime family consists of an administration and six crews. The following includes a list of fictional characters from The Sopranos that are associated with the DiMeo crime family.

List of The Sopranos episodes

The Sopranos, a television drama series created by David Chase, premiered on the premium television channel HBO in the United States on January 10, 1999, and ended on June 10, 2007. The series consists of a total of 86 episodes over six seasons. Each episode is approximately 50 minutes long. The first five seasons each consist of thirteen episodes, and the sixth season twenty-one.

HBO broadcast the sixth season in two parts. The first twelve episodes ran from March to June 2006, and the remaining nine episodes ran from April to June 2007. HBO also released the two parts of the sixth season as separate DVD box sets. This effectively turns the second part into a short seventh season, though the show's producers and HBO don't describe it as such. All six seasons are available on DVD in Regions 1, 2, 3, and 4.Unlike most broadcast and cable networks that put their television programs on a four-month hiatus between seasons, The Sopranos took longer hiatuses between seasons. Season four, for example, premiered sixteen months after the third season finale, and the sixth season returned almost two years after the end of season five.The Sopranos stars James Gandolfini as the Italian-American New Jersey-based contemporary mobster Tony Soprano. Edie Falco plays his wife Carmela Soprano, and Lorraine Bracco as his psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Melfi. The continuing story arc of The Sopranos is of how Tony Soprano deals with the often conflicting requirements of his home life and the criminal organization he heads.

Mezzo-soprano

A mezzo-soprano or mezzo (English: , ; Italian: [ˈmɛddzo soˈpraːno] meaning "half soprano") is a type of classical female singing voice whose vocal range lies between the soprano and the contralto voice types. The mezzo-soprano's vocal range usually extends from the A below middle C to the A two octaves above (i.e. A3–A5 in scientific pitch notation, where middle C = C4; 220–880 Hz). In the lower and upper extremes, some mezzo-sopranos may extend down to the F below middle C (F3, 175 Hz) and as high as "high C" (C6, 1047 Hz).

The mezzo-soprano voice type is generally divided into the coloratura, lyric, and dramatic mezzo-soprano.

SATB

In music, SATB is an initialism for soprano, alto, tenor, bass, defining the voice types required by a chorus or choir to perform a particular musical work. Pieces written for SATB (the most common combination, and used by most hymn tunes) can be sung by choruses of mixed genders, by choirs of men and boys, or by four soloists.

There is a lack of general agreement on other initialisms/abbreviations. Tr for Treble, Mz (or similar) for Mezzo-soprano, Ba, Bar or Bari for Baritone are self-explanatory, while C could be taken for canto, the highest part, or for Contralto, usually implying a female alto(s) as opposed to a Countertenor (Ct). SCTB is commonly found in Romantic Italian opera choruses where the Alto singers portray a group of female protagonists on stage.SATB div. (divisi, or divided) denotes that one or more individual parts divide into two or more parts at some point in the piece, often sharing the same staff. A single choir with two of each voice type should be written SSAATTBB, unless it is laid out for two identical choirs, in which case it is SATB/SATB. Soloists are written in small type, e.g. satb/SATB. In both these instances a space may be substituted for the slash (/). Publishers usually include such descriptions in their catalogues of choral works, although many fail to provide sufficient detail, commonly omitting, for example, the term div. where it is required fully to describe the resources required by the composer. Also misleading can be the use of B for a Baritone part or S for an Mz part as for example in Stanford's motet "Eternal Father" which, though marked SSATBB, is for one each of soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass.

Saxophone

The saxophone (also referred to as the sax) is a family of woodwind instruments. Saxophones are usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet. When the player presses a key, a pad either covers a hole or lifts off a hole, lowering or raising the pitch, respectively.

The saxophone family was invented by the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax in 1840. Adolphe Sax wanted to create a group or series of instruments that would be the most powerful and vocal of the woodwinds, and the most adaptive of the brass instruments, that would fill the vacant middle ground between the two sections. Sax patented the saxophone on June 28, 1846, in two groups of seven instruments each. Each series consisted of instruments of various sizes in alternating transposition. The series pitched in B♭ and E♭, designed for military bands, have proved popular and most saxophones encountered today are from this series. Instruments from the so-called "orchestral" series, pitched in C and F, never gained a foothold, and the B♭ and E♭ instruments have now replaced the C and F instruments when the saxophone is used in an orchestra.

The saxophone is used in classical music (such as concert bands, chamber music, solo repertoire, and, occasionally, orchestras), military bands, marching bands, jazz (such as big bands and jazz combos), and contemporary music. The saxophone is also used as a solo and melody instrument or as a member of a horn section in some styles of rock and roll and popular music. Saxophone players are called saxophonists.

Soprano saxophone

The soprano saxophone is a higher-register variety of the saxophone, a woodwind instrument, invented in the 1840s. The soprano is the third smallest member of the saxophone family, which consists (from smallest to largest) of the soprillo, sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass, contrabass saxophone and tubax. Soprano saxophones are the smallest saxophone in common use.

Tenor saxophone

The tenor saxophone is a medium-sized member of the saxophone family, a group of instruments invented by Adolphe Sax in the 1840s. The tenor and the alto are the two most commonly used saxophones. The tenor is pitched in the key of B♭ (while the Alto is pitched in the key of E♭), and written as a transposing instrument in the treble clef, sounding an octave and a major second lower than the written pitch. Modern tenor saxophones which have a high F♯ key have a range from A♭2 to E5 (concert) and are therefore pitched one octave below the soprano saxophone. People who play the tenor saxophone are known as "tenor saxophonists", "tenor sax players", or "saxophonists".

The tenor saxophone uses a larger mouthpiece, reed and ligature than the alto and soprano saxophones. Visually, it is easily distinguished by the bend in its neck, or its crook, near the mouthpiece. The alto saxophone lacks this and its neck goes straight to the mouthpiece. The tenor saxophone is most recognized for its ability to blend well with the soprano, alto and baritone saxophones, with its "husky" yet "bright" tone.

The tenor saxophone is commonly used in classical music (such as concert bands, chamber music and solo repertoire), military bands, marching bands and jazz (such as big bands, jazz combos, etc.). It is occasionally included in pieces written for symphony orchestra; three examples of this are Ravel's Boléro, Prokofiev's suite from Lieutenant Kijé, and Webern's Quartet for violin, clarinet, tenor saxophone and piano. In concert bands, the tenor plays mostly a supporting role, sometimes sharing parts with the euphonium, horn and trombone. In jazz ensembles, the tenor plays a more prominent role as a member of a section that includes the alto and baritone saxes.

Many of the most innovative and influential jazz musicians have been tenor saxophonists. These include Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter. The work of younger players such as Michael Brecker and Chris Potter has been an important influence in more recent jazz.

The Sopranos

The Sopranos is an American crime drama television series created by David Chase. The story revolves around Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), a New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster, and portrays the difficulties that he faces as he tries to balance his family life with his role as the leader of a criminal organization. These are explored during his therapy sessions with psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). The series features Tony's family members, mafia colleagues, and rivals in prominent roles—most notably his wife, Carmela (Edie Falco), and his protégé/distant cousin, Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli).

The pilot was ordered in 1997, and the show premiered on HBO on January 10, 1999. It ran for six seasons totalling 86 episodes until June 10, 2007. Broadcast syndication followed in the U.S. and internationally. The Sopranos was produced by HBO, Chase Films, and Brad Grey Television. It was primarily filmed at Silvercup Studios in New York City, and on location in New Jersey. The executive producers throughout the show's run were David Chase, Brad Grey, Robin Green, Mitchell Burgess, Ilene S. Landress, Terence Winter, and Matthew Weiner.

The Sopranos is widely regarded as one of the greatest television series of all time. The series won a multitude of awards, including Peabody Awards for its first two seasons, 21 Primetime Emmy Awards, and five Golden Globe Awards. It has been the subject of critical analysis, controversy, and parody, and has spawned books, a video game, soundtrack albums, and assorted merchandise. Several members of the show's cast and crew were largely unknown to the public but have since had successful careers. In 2013, the Writers Guild of America named The Sopranos the best-written TV series of all time, while TV Guide ranked it the best television series of all time. In 2016, the series also ranked first in Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest TV shows of all time.In March 2018, New Line Cinema announced that they have purchased a film detailing the Sopranos background story, set in the 1960s during the Newark riots. Titled The Many Saints of Newark, it is written by David Chase and Lawrence Konner and will be directed by Alan Taylor.

Tony Soprano

Anthony John Soprano (born 1959) is a fictional character and the protagonist in the HBO television drama series The Sopranos (1999–2007), portrayed by James Gandolfini. Usually referred to as Tony, the Italian-American character was conceived by Sopranos creator and showrunner David Chase, who was also largely responsible for the character's story arc throughout the show's six seasons. The character is loosely based on real-life New Jersey mobster Vincent "Vinny Ocean" Palermo, a former caporegime (capo) and de facto boss of the DeCavalcante crime family. Bobby Boriello and Mark Damiano II portrayed Soprano as a child in one episode each; Danny Petrillo played the character as a teenager in three episodes.

In the first season, Tony is a capo in the DiMeo crime family. Between the first and second seasons, he is promoted to street boss, a position he retains until the sixth season; his uncle Corrado "Junior" Soprano is the official boss up until early in the sixth season, but has little or no actual power. Throughout the series, Tony struggles to balance the conflicting needs of his actual family— wife Carmela, daughter Meadow, son A. J., and mother Livia—with those of the Mafia family he controls. He often displays behavior traits characteristic of a violent sociopath, but also struggles with depression and is prone to panic attacks. He seeks treatment from Dr. Jennifer Melfi in the first episode and remains in therapy on and off up until the penultimate episode of the series.

Both the Tony Soprano character and Gandolfini’s performance garnered widespread critical acclaim, with Soprano being often cited as one of the greatest and most influential characters in television history. Gandolfini, for his portrayal of the character, won three Emmy Awards for Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series, three Screen Actors Guild Awards for Best Male Actor in a Drama Series and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama as well as two additional SAG Awards for Best Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.

Ukulele

The ukulele ( yoo-kuh-LAY-lee; from Hawaiian: ʻukulele [ˈʔukuˈlɛlɛ] OO-koo-LEH-leh; variant: ukelele) is a member of the guitar family of instruments. It generally employs four nylon or gut strings or four courses of strings. Some strings may be paired in courses, giving the instrument a total of six or eight strings.

The ukulele originated in the 19th century as a Hawaiian adaptation of the Portuguese machete, a small guitar-like instrument, which was introduced to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants, mainly from Madeira and the Azores. It gained great popularity elsewhere in the United States during the early 20th century and from there spread internationally.

The tone and volume of the instrument vary with size and construction. Ukuleles commonly come in four sizes: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone.

Vocal range

Vocal range is the measure of the breadth of pitches that a human voice can phonate. Its most common application is within the context of singing, where it is used as a defining characteristic for classifying singing voices into groups known as voice types. It is also a topic of study within linguistics, phonetics, and speech and language pathology, particularly in relation to the study of tonal languages and certain types of vocal disorders, although it has little practical application in terms of speech.

Voice type

A voice type classifies a singing voice by vocal range, vocal weight, tessitura, vocal timbre, vocal transition points (passaggia) like breaks and lifts, and vocal register. Voice classification was developed for European classical music and seldom applies to other kinds of singing; voice classification is in the opera to pair roles with voices. Several different voice classification systems are available to identify voice types, including the German Fach system and the choral music system among many others; no system is universally applied or accepted.Voice classification is a tool for singers, composers, venues, and listeners to categorize vocal properties and to associate roles with voices. While choral singers are classified into voice parts based on their vocal range, solo singers are classified into voice types based more on their tessitura – where their voice feels most comfortable for the majority of the time.A singer will choose a repertoire that suits his or her instrument. Some singers such as Enrico Caruso, Rosa Ponselle, Joan Sutherland, Maria Callas, Ewa Podleś, or Plácido Domingo have voices that allow them to sing roles from a wide variety of types; some singers such as Shirley Verrett or Grace Bumbry change type and even voice part over their careers; and some singers such as Leonie Rysanek have voices that lower with age, causing them to cycle through types over their careers. Some roles as well are hard to classify, having very unusual vocal requirements; Mozart wrote many of his roles for specific singers who often had remarkable voices, and some of Verdi's early works make extreme demands on his singers.

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