Different Types of Singing Styles & Genres [Complete Guide]

If you’re interested in singing or just curious about the different ways people use their voice to express themselves, then you’re in the right place! 

In this article, we’re going to dive into the world of singing styles and genres. As a vocalist, it’s important to explore different styles to figure out what works best for you and where your strengths lie.

8 Types of Singing Voices

Singing is an incredible way to express yourself and connect with others through music. But did you know that understanding your singing voice type can help you improve your singing and prevent vocal strain? In this article, we’ll explore eight different types of singing voices that you need to know about.

Before you start taking singing lessons, it’s essential to identify your vocal range. Your vocal range is determined by the highest and lowest notes you can comfortably sing from your chest, starting at middle C. Once you know your range, you can work with vocal teachers to determine your tessitura – the range that feels most comfortable for you.

Here are the different voice classifications and what they mean for your singing. Knowing these eight voice types can help you better understand your own voice and give you a better foundation for improving your singing skills.

1. Soprano 

If you’re a fan of high-pitched singing, then you might be interested in learning about soprano singers. Sopranos are the highest voice type and their range typically starts at B3 (the B below middle C) and goes up to A5 (an A that is an octave plus a major sixth above middle C). However, some professional sopranos can even sing a broader range when asked.

Sopranos have different subcategories, including coloratura sopranos who specialize in operatic singing and sopraninos who can sing extremely high, sometimes up to F6, which is more than two octaves above middle C. You might recognize sopranos as the lead melody singers in traditional choral music.

2. Mezzo-soprano

Mezzo-sopranos are another type of high-range voice, with a range that usually goes from A3 to G5. However, don’t be surprised if you hear a mezzo-soprano pushing their boundaries in either direction with the right training.

Mezzo-sopranos can sing a wide range of music styles, from classical to pop. They’re also known for their versatility, being able to sing both high and low notes with ease. Some mezzo-sopranos even perform as altos in choirs!

3. Alto

When it comes to singing in a choir, the alto voice type is essential. Most trained altos can comfortably sing from G3 in their lower range to F5 in their upper range. That’s a wide range, and it’s why they’re often the backbone of every choir.

If you’re not familiar with the alto voice type, think of it as the lower-pitched voice that harmonizes with the higher-pitched soprano voice. However, not all altos are created equal. A contralto can go even lower than a traditional alto singer, adding a unique depth and richness to any choir performance.

4. Tenor

A tenor ranges from C3 on the low end to C5 on the high end, but don’t be surprised if you hear tenor singers hitting even higher notes.

In fact, the highest singing voice in the tenor range is called countertenor, and it’s a unique voice type that’s characterized by its high-pitched, almost falsetto-like sound. Countertenors are often associated with early music, but they can also be found in contemporary music genres.

Whether you’re listening to a tenor or a countertenor, you can expect to hear powerful vocals that hit all the high notes.

5. Baritone

Baritones have a range that goes somewhat lower than a tenor, typically sitting between A2 and A5. However, don’t be surprised if you hear a baritone hitting a C5, giving them a similar range to a low tenor.

Baritones are known for their rich, warm tones, which make them ideal for a wide range of music styles. They can add depth and emotion to ballads and pop songs, or bring energy and power to rock and roll tunes. They’re also often used in musical theater productions, where they can show off their acting skills as well as their vocal range.

6. Bass

The bass voice type is all about bringing the low-end frequencies that make your body vibrate. A bass singer is the lowest standard voice type and can typically hit notes from E2 to E4. But don’t be surprised if you hear a bass hitting even lower notes on sustained vowel sounds.

Bass singers are often used in a cappella groups, where they provide the foundation for the rest of the singers. They’re also found in many different music styles, from classical to pop to hip hop. In fact, some of the most iconic songs in music history feature a bass singer, like Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” or Barry White’s “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe.”

7. Treble

The treble vocal range usually applies to pre-pubescent children, and most treble singers have a comfortable range between A3 and A5. That puts them in a similar range to a mezzo-soprano.

Treble singers are often found in choirs or in musical theater productions where they can showcase their youthful energy and innocence. They’re also sometimes featured in pop songs, adding a unique touch to the music.

8. Falsetto

If you’re looking for a voice type that will make your jaw drop, then you need to check out the falsetto. While it’s not technically a vocal range, the term (meaning “false voice”) refers to high notes a person will sing above their natural chest voice.

Some people use the term as a synonym for “head voice,” but the two are slightly different. Head voices can blend with chest voices, but a true falsetto cannot. That’s what makes the falsetto so unique and impressive. It’s a voice type that stands out and demands attention.

Falsettos are often used in pop music, adding a distinctive sound to the music. You might recognize it in songs by artists like Prince, Michael Jackson, or The Bee Gees.

7 Singing Genres

1. Country

Country Music is a fantastic genre that brings together various musical styles to create something truly unique. This genre of music originated in the United States and is a mix of folk, bluegrass, blues, and rural dance music. The unique feature of country music is the twangy vocals, but don’t worry about forcing it, just let your natural twang shine through.

Group singing has always been a staple in country music, with early acts like the Carter Family featuring family members singing together. Nowadays, collaborations are also popular, like Miranda Lambert who found success by teaming up with other vocalists. 

So if you’re looking to pursue a career in country music, why not find a duet partner to go on this exciting journey with you?

2. Hip-hop

Hip-hop is a type of music that you’ve probably heard before. It’s known for its strong beats and rap vocals, which can be seen in various subgenres such as trap, grime, gangsta rap, and more. But did you know that there are even more subgenres like rap-rock, crunk, chillhop, bounce, and Latin hip-hop? It’s a versatile and dynamic genre!

Most hip-hop artists use rapping as their primary vocal style, but some artists may also sing choruses or bridges in a pop or R&B-style.

3. Jazz

Jazz is a music style that’s all about being in the moment, creating something unique and beautiful with each performance. It’s characterized by complex harmonies, syncopated rhythms, and call-and-response vocals. If you want to sing jazz, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

Firstly, timing is everything. Jazz is a genre that demands perfect timing from its singers, so be sure to practice your timing skills regularly. You can do this by listening to jazz tracks and trying to sing along with the rhythms and melodies.

Secondly, improvisation is a big part of jazz music. In fact, it’s what makes jazz so exciting and unpredictable. To be successful at singing jazz, you’ll need to develop your ad-libbing skills. This means being able to come up with new melodies and rhythms on the spot.

Thirdly, creating your own unique vocal style is key in jazz music. One way to do this is by experimenting with different vocal registers. Jazz singers typically have a lower register, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with different ranges and find what works best for you.

4. Musical theater

Musical theater covers a wide range of genres, from pop to rock, and even incorporates some operatic elements. If you’re new to this style of singing, it’s essential to start by familiarizing yourself with the traditional musical theater styles from different eras.

For older musicals, clear enunciation and rounded vowels are emphasized, while modern musicals often mix speech-level singing and belting. Belting is a form of vocal projection that’s on the cusp of your chest and head voice. It’s a powerful way to project your voice, and it’s frequently used in modern musicals.

But singing in musical theater isn’t just about hitting the right notes. Singers must also act while they sing, channeling their character’s emotions to create a dynamic performance. So in addition to practicing your vocals, it’s important to work on your acting skills and how you express emotions through your singing.

5. Opera

Opera singing is like a beautiful blend of theater and classical music that will take you to another world. If you’re wondering what type of voices are involved in opera, women usually sing in the contralto, mezzo-soprano, and soprano range, while men can hit the bass, baritone, tenor, and countertenor notes.

When it comes to singing operatic pieces, there are two types of singing styles to get familiar with: recitative and arias. Recitative is kind of like singing with a pitch, almost like spoken word poetry, while arias are more formal songs that are sprinkled throughout the opera piece.

To add a touch of magic and depth to their performances, opera singers often use vibrato, which is a subtle way of switching between two different pitches. It’s a technique that requires dedication and practice to master. Working with a vocal coach can help you develop and refine your skills in this art form.

6. Pop

Pop music is a type of music that’s currently trending high on the charts and has broad appeal. It’s energetic, danceable, and always catchy. Singing pop requires you to master numerous vocal techniques and styles, from quiet, breathy singing to full belting within the same song. To improve your pop singing, it’s crucial to seek out vocal exercises that develop your head voice, which is the highest part of a singer’s vocal range.

But pop music isn’t just about singing; it’s also about putting on an engaging and fun performance. To make your performance stand out, work on developing your stage presence. Use your facial expressions to emote as you sing, and use your body language to emphasize the lyrics.

So, if you’re looking to improve your pop singing skills and put on a great performance, here are some tips:

  1. Develop your head voice. This is important because pop songs often require you to hit high notes. Vocal exercises that develop your head voice will help you hit those notes with ease.
  2. Practice breath control. Breath control is essential for any type of singing, but it’s especially important in pop music. You’ll need to be able to sing long phrases without taking a breath, so work on your breath control to improve your endurance.
  3. Emote with your facial expressions. Use your face to express the emotions in the song. Smile when the song is happy, and frown when it’s sad. This will help you connect with your audience and make your performance more engaging.
  4. Use body language to emphasize the lyrics. Move around on stage to emphasize the lyrics and create a dynamic performance. Use your arms and hands to gesture and point to emphasize important phrases.

7. Rock

Rock music is a genre that originated from the blues and has since then branched out into almost infinite subgenres, each with its own unique style. Alternative rock, punk rock, hard rock, soft rock, indie rock, pop rock, and more are just a few examples of the many types of rock music that exist.

Rock singers, in general, are known for their energetic and raucous performances and are comfortable using various singing techniques. To become a well-rounded rock singer, you should be able to belt out high notes and use vibrato. If you’re aiming for that classic gravelly hard-rock voice, you can try practicing vocal fry, but be gentle as it can strain your vocal cords if done improperly.

It’s important to note that singing in the rock genre can be challenging and may cause strain on your vocal cords if you don’t practice good technique.

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