Here on The Range Place, we are commonly asked things like “which singers have the largest vocal ranges?”, “which singers can sing the highest/lowest notes?” and “how does this singer compare to that singer?”. In attempt to try and answer some of these questions, we’re going to start a brand new series of posts on this site: The Range Place’s very own Vocal Range Pantheon!
In essence, each entry into the Vocal Range Pantheon will list the vocal ranges of fifty “certified” singers at a time in attempt to definitively rank some of the world’s greats based upon their vocal range. In each entry we will try include an eclectic array of musicians from a diverse range of genres in order to represent as many vocalists as possible.
The first entry into our pantheon is below. On the piano, C4 (or Middle C) is labelled grey.
The Range Place’s Vocal Range Pantheon differs from other sources in a number of ways; most importantly, you can be sure that every singer we have included has had their entire available studio discography researched (said research will be listed in the sources below). Additionally, take note that The Range Place has standards for the “significance” of notes – we don’t count notes that we deem “insignificant” to a singer’s overall vocal range (mostly unrepresentative notes or notes of poor quality). If some of the vocal ranges listed above are slightly different to ones listed elsewhere, this may well be the case. Again, this is something that will be specified in the research that has been done for each singer, so if you’re unsure, check the sources below.
Though the Pantheon may be informative and interesting, it’s good to remember that this does not definitively rank the “best” and “worst” singers, and that it simply ranks them by their vocal ranges. The above entry does not define (or even attempt to define) Mike Patton as the world’s greatest singer and Carole King as the worst, though what it does say is that the former has an outlandishly large vocal range of almost six octaves while the latter has a respectable two and a half. Furthermore, stay aware that the Pantheon only dictates singer’s vocal ranges across their whole career, and does not specify singer’s vocal ranges across certain timeframes. This is especially important to remember for singers like Rob Halford or Joni Mitchell, whose voices have changed a lot over their career (to the point where we have them listed as two separate voice types from different timeframes in their career).
With all that said, however, the Pantheon is still an interesting way to compare and contrast different vocal ranges of different singers. Some singers may have slightly larger ranges than you’d expect and some may have slightly smaller ones. You could also compare how certain singers measure up against others – for example, you may be surprised to learn that Etta James has the same vocal range as Jeff Buckley.
This is only the first entry into the Pantheon, and over the coming months, we hope many more entries will come!
Sources and Research Credits:
If you would like to learn more about these singers, where they hit their highest and lowest notes or simply more information on their vocal ranges, the links below will guide you to the research that has been done on them on the forum. You can PM the thread owners at http://therangeplace.boards.net
The singers used in this list are as follows: