Not everyone listens to music to admire the voice and the vocal range of the leading singer. For many listeners, the most important thing is the music or beat. Some are willing to ignore the singer’s range and the lyrics for the sake of the music. However the most successful bands/singers are usually the ones who manage to combine quality music, meaningful lyrics and a great vocal range.
Vocal Range is basically “the measure of the breadth of pitches that a human voice can” vocalize (Wikipedia definition). Basically, it is how low and how high a note a voice can produce while singing. Sometimes it is about “talent” and sometimes can be an obligation or a choice, as singers of different genres may use aids for singing (microphones, talk-boxes and such) and they may choose to sing in different ranges.
Vocal ranges are used to determine voice types. For women, the main three types are soprano, mezzo-soprano, and contralto. For men, there are four types: countertenor, tenor, baritone, and bass.
Since letters and numbers are used for classifying vocal ranges according to voice type, I should list those notations and what they represent before bragging about some of rock’s diverse vocals.
For men: it is C3- C5 for tenor, F2- F4 for baritone and for bass, it is E2- E4. For Women: it is C4- C6 for Soprano, A3 — A5 for Mezzo-soprano and F3 – F5 for Contralto.
Some singers can go beyond these limits.
The Rock Vocalists
Freddie Mercury was the singer/songwriter/piano player of the highly popular and critically acclaimed rock band Queen from the time the band was formed in 1971 until his death in 1991.
Freddie’s speaking voice was in the baritone range but he preferred singing in the tenor range. His range included F2 — E6, to F6 and F5.
Freddie’s vocals were over a four-octave range.
|Roger Meddows- Taylor is the Queen drummer and he provided back-up vocals as well. He frequently contributed to the band’s songwriting process and he even sang lead vocals for the songs he created himself. While Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant was great at singing high notes (for instance E4), he couldn’t sing very low. Both Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor could sing as high as Plant but they could also go much lower (A1 for Roger Taylor and E1 for Freddie Mercury. Even though Freddie has a higher range, he has been inspired and influenced by Plant’s singing style.
|Elvis Presley is both a tenor and a baritone. In one music critic’s words, Elvis is “a high baritone, calculating his range as two octaves and a third, from the baritone low G to the tenor high B, with an upward extension in falsetto to at least a D-flat.”
|Linda Ronstadt is an American rock singer born in 1946. She is mostly famous for singing cover songs and her high vocal range. Her voice can go from contralto and soprano. And just like Freddie Mercury, she is known to use her range in one song.
|Matthew Bellamy is the singer/songwriter/piano and guitar player of the alternative/progressive rock band Muse. He has been known to hit A2, A4 and A5.
|Axl Rose is the singer of the hard rock band Guns N’ Roses, founded in 1985. The band lost its original line-up in 1996 (lead guitarist Slash and several other members left) but Axl continues to front the band. Axl can sing in the tenor range, bass and baritone. Moreover he can also sing a high soprano.