\"\"
Piano Forum logo

Soprano, alto or both? (Read 3671 times)

Offline faa2010

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 501
Soprano, alto or both?
« on: October 13, 2014, 02:28:58 PM »
During my life I was qualified as soprano. I am in a choir and the teacher put me in the altos without telling him that I am a soprano.

I am having problems with identifying myself, because there are some parts which I cannot reach as a soprano, but there are also parts which I cannot reach lower as an alto.

Also, depending of the exercises, I think I can make my range wider, but some people have consider it that I am not soprano, that I am only doing falsetto (and maybe because they blame that we cannot sound as an alto group, but it is also because they couldn't sing well the song).

I am not sure anymore of what I am, I would like to talk about it to the teacher, that maybe I am a soprano and not an alto, but I feel he is very narrow minded and he will convince me that I am an alto and nothing more.

What can I do?, is it a problem to be in an alto choir instead of a soprano one?, or with that can I expand my vocal range?

Offline outin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7883
Re: Soprano, alto or both?
«Reply #1 on: October 13, 2014, 03:42:35 PM »
Women often have a very wide range, I know sopranos that can sing both very high and very low. It's more about what's comfortable, where your sound is best and where the register changes. I almost ruined my voice when singing in choir because I was always made to sing high because I could, but it caused a lot of tension because it takes a lot of effort to sing both high and louder. In fact I am really a very low alto and most comfortably sing just above and below the middle c.

If you really want to find your voice type private voice lessons would be best.  Learning better technique also may change this.

Offline Mayla

  • PS Gold Member
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6638
Re: Soprano, alto or both?
«Reply #2 on: October 13, 2014, 04:22:59 PM »
.
"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline iansinclair

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1472
Re: Soprano, alto or both?
«Reply #3 on: October 13, 2014, 05:29:58 PM »
During my life I was qualified as soprano. I am in a choir and the teacher put me in the altos without telling him that I am a soprano.

I am having problems with identifying myself, because there are some parts which I cannot reach as a soprano, but there are also parts which I cannot reach lower as an alto.

Also, depending of the exercises, I think I can make my range wider, but some people have consider it that I am not soprano, that I am only doing falsetto (and maybe because they blame that we cannot sound as an alto group, but it is also because they couldn't sing well the song).

I am not sure anymore of what I am, I would like to talk about it to the teacher, that maybe I am a soprano and not an alto, but I feel he is very narrow minded and he will convince me that I am an alto and nothing more.

What can I do?, is it a problem to be in an alto choir instead of a soprano one?, or with that can I expand my vocal range?
Please permit me to comment from the viewpoint of a choral director -- which I have been of sorts for most of my life.  Both ecclesiastic choirs and secular, mixed of all flavours or all men or all women...

First on your second to the last paragraph "I am an alto and nothng more".  Two thoughts.  A good alto -- particularly a real contralto -- is very precious in a choir, particularly an amateur or semi-amateur one.  Most untrained female voices I have dealt with have been comfortable somewhere in a mezzo soprano range and, while it isn't all that hard to extend the top of the range to make a passable soprano, to extend the bottom of the range to make a true alto is very difficult.  Second, of all the vocal ranges, to my way of thinking the sound of a contralto in her range is the most wonderful of the possible vocal types, in general (yes, before the rest of you scream, I have conducted some absolutely fabulous sopranos -- the most beautiful voice I ever had the privilege to work with was a soprano -- and tenors and basses (the deepest basses can also make some wonderful wonderful noises -- it's a shame that their names are all Slavic or Russian and quite unpronounceable!).

So if you find you are really an alto, you are a rare and privileged beast.

The second comment I would make is that in a choir or chorus the quality of the voice, as a solo instrument, is actually not really as important as the ability to blend with the rest of the group in terms of sound quality and the ability to sing accurately in tune, which latter is much rarer than you might think.  There are very few things which will drive a choir director to distraction faster than a beautiful voice which is always slightly flat or sharp, or has a wider vibrato than the group, or -- perhaps worst of all -- vowel pronunciation which is regionally distinctive. 

It is very very helpful to be able to sing for someone, preferably an experienced vocal teacher (particularly if your particular choir director is difficult, as you suggest) and gain an appreciation from them as to what your present natural range is, where your natural breaks are and, if possible, what additional training you might be able to undertake to make you more comfortable -- particularly with extending range, but also with blending and controlling the range breaks (there are an amazing number of singers -- including some very famous ones -- who have, for instance, wonderful chest voices and wonderful head voices -- and a range break which sounds like a lighthouse on a foggy day).

In response to some of Mayla's comments -- she is, so far as I know, a very accomplished singer -- it is rather important, in my view, to regard choral music as a "fach", if you will, all of its own.  It really is quite different from any of the various solo or very small group voices!  It is not at all uncommon for a person with a splendid solo voice to be uncomfortable (at best) in a choir and, viewing it from the opposite direction, it is equally common for the choir director to be uncomfortable with having that solo voice in the choir!
Ian

Offline mjames

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2452
Re: Soprano, alto or both?
«Reply #4 on: October 13, 2014, 06:25:07 PM »
Soprano, soprano, and soprano.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1786
Re: Soprano, alto or both?
«Reply #5 on: October 13, 2014, 07:23:07 PM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline faa2010

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 501
Re: Soprano, alto or both?
«Reply #6 on: October 13, 2014, 08:11:29 PM »
faa2010

The choir director obviously needs altos more in his choir than he needs sopranos, that's why he put you with the altos without properly testing your voice. The problem is, however, that it is very hard to repair damaged vocal chords, and at best, you may lose your personal and natural timbre if you force your voice constantly out of its natural range.
EDIT: You may be neither. Demand proper testing!

Thanks dima,

You hit the right nail by saying that the choir director needs more altos because they are not so many, so he didn't test me correctly.

I have to tell him that after the courses we have taken, I felt more a soprano than an alto, in case he doesn't want to change his idea, I will tell him to test me correctly or to look for someone who can tell in a non-biased way if I am soprano or not, or else I will lose something important which is my personal and natural timbre.

Offline iansinclair

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1472
Re: Soprano, alto or both?
«Reply #7 on: October 13, 2014, 08:39:48 PM »
faa2010

The choir director obviously needs altos more in his choir than he needs sopranos, that's why he put you with the altos without properly testing your voice. The problem is, however, that it is very hard to repair damaged vocal chords, and at best, you may lose your personal and natural timbre if you force your voice constantly out of its natural range.
EDIT: You may be neither. Demand proper testing!
Dima's comment here has two parts -- first, it's absolutely correct that forcing your voice out of its natural range can be very damaging.

Second, if that's why the choir director placed you as an alto, he or she shouldn't be doing that job.  Personal opinion, but rather strong!
Ian

Offline quantum

  • PS Gold Member
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5219
Re: Soprano, alto or both?
«Reply #8 on: October 14, 2014, 02:39:15 PM »
Second, if that's why the choir director placed you as an alto, he or she shouldn't be doing that job.  Personal opinion, but rather strong!

Sadly, I've seen this far too many times.  Specially in schools. 

A well warranted opinion  :)

Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach