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Pitch and vocal range

In our series of blogs about pitch, this week we’re looking at the vocal range we create when we speak and sing.


When we speak or sing we create a sound wave. When we do this we are creating a pitch and if you could see the wave we create, it would literally look like a wave. A sine wave that goes up and down – it’s also called a longitudinal sound
wave, which is what you can draw that sine from it.

But it also means it’s buffering the sound along. Think of it like a slinky toy that you used to play with on the stairs when you were a kid. A soundwave pushes its way along to the other end and then it’ll come back again.

And that is essentially the idea of a sound wave. By vibrating constantly, we are pushing the air at a certain rate and we are buffering it to create the sound
wave that’s moving out of our mouths. Other people then hear the waves on their eardrums and interpret that vibration into sound.

Going back to the idea of our A at 440 hertz. I want give you an idea of the speed
at which our vocal folds can vibrate. So the wonderful thing about octaves in music is that they are logarithmic in that the hertz of a note is doubled and doubled again as you reach up. So if A is at 440 hertz, when I go down the octave, that number is halved to 220 hertz.

My vocal folds are vibrating 220 times a second, 220 hertz. Similarly, if we go up an octave, that note will vibrate at 880 hertz and so on. That is super fast for tiny muscles to vibrate at.

Vocal range

We all have a range that we speak in, and when you are singing, you’ll find that you are probably more comfortable and more able to sing within the range that you speak in. So for me, I speak, I’m not a really super low speaker, but I’m lower than some women, I would say. This all means that I’m comfortable in a sort of 200, 300 hertz range.

Men tend to be more at the lower 200 hertz end and some of the ladies who speak a bit higher up will be higher in those three hundreds.

That gives an indication of where you are probably more comfortable singing at because you’re already using those ranges when you speak.

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