Tessitura, in music, is defined as the range within which a voice, or a musical instruments sounds best. It is the most comfortable range in which a voice produces its top quality. As a singer, it is crucial to find your tessitura so that you can sing well without much strain.
Table of Contents
- What is Tessitura?
- How To Find Your Tessitura Voice?
- Benefits of Finding Your Tessitura
- What is the Difference Between Tessitura & Vocal Range?
- Questions & Problems On Voice Classification
- How To Use Your Tessitura Voice
What is Tessitura?
The word “tessitura” literally means in Italian “texture.” In music, it refers explicitly to the range of pitches that are embedded in a vocal part or melody. It is important to take note that tessitura doesn’t deal with the extremes of the vocal range, nor does it account for the extremes of the notes in a musical piece. It is more focused on how the vocal line had been situated. You can’t determine your tessitura by merely figuring out a few isolated notes of the extreme low and high pitch of the piece. Instead, it deals more with the most consistently used notes within your vocal range.
In classical music, the one-octave sweet spot is aptly called “Tessitura.” Tessitura, of course, is an Italian term which also means the “mean average” of all the notes in a written melody. It is essential to know your tessitura, especially concerning your skill and thought because it will enable you to choose wisely the key that is most suitable for your voice for a particular song. It will also enable you to find your comfort zone when singing a song. Your vocal comfort should come first, before the key.
How To Find Your Tessitura Voice?
Tessitura is a better determinant of voice type because range alone will not show where a voice sounds best. Therefore, for you to correctly make out your voice type, you will have to focus on vocal tessitura and timbre.
In a vocal range test, you have to go beyond knowing your highest and lowest notes. Because vocal notes are subject to alteration, finding your comfortable singing range (Tessitura) is more important than knowing your lowest & hight notes you can hit. As a singer, you might learn a role, but when you sing it, you can’t bring out the best voice in that song, because the basic tessitura of that role does not suit you at all.
Once you have identified your vocal range, you can find your Tessitura by singing different songs that are within your vocal range and identify the song that you can sing better easily. Study the vocal range and notes of that song; I’m sure you will find more specific minor vocal ranges and notes that constitute your Tessitura voice.
Benefits of Finding Your Tessitura
The volume in which you can sustain quality is an important determinant of the tessitura that you will choose. Once you know your tessitura well, it is easy to sing the highest quality because you will choose what suits your “fach” (voice type) and range (tessitura).
Every song has its defining parts that stand out. You can make an impressive performance if you can bring out this parts so well and knowledge of Tessitura comes in handy here. If you want to sing at your best, give yourself the freedom of tweaking the keys of the most important parts of a song such as bridges and choruses so that they match with your tessitura (the strongest part of your singing voice). The performance is more meaningful if the singer puts emphasis on the defining parts of a song, so you have to make sure that these parts are sung within a range that is most comfortable and powerful for you.
What is the Difference Between Tessitura & Vocal Range?
Many vocalists get confused with the concept of range and tessitura. The range is easy to understand because it merely refers to the distance between the lowest note to the highest note that one can sing. On average, the human voice can sing across 3 -1/2 octaves. However, most singers spend most of their time belting notes that run from 1-1/2 to 2 octaves. Thus, many singers do not fully utilize the full range of their voices.
As a singer, you should know how to differentiate between your range and your tessitura. You should be very clear about the difference between these two concepts. Some singers find it hard to sing a piece because they are singing the part on a pitch in which they are not comfortable. Remember that tessitura is the most used register or the general position of the notes in a piece in which you can comfortably sing the parts. Knowing your tessitura will surely enable you to sing a piece comfortably.
You don’t need to push your voice higher by singing apart from your most suitable tessitura. However, if someone says that a piece has low or high tessitura, he is simply referring to pitch limits that your vocal has. He is not relating to the pitch limits of the vocalist.
A song can be set in several keys. An individual singer also has his overall range. He wouldn’t be able to sing outside of that range. So, if he is asked to find his tessitura for a particular song, he is simply asked to find the most comfortable way of singing the song. He could use a lower or higher tessitura, and surely, he would be able to sing comfortably as long as it is within his range. But there is always that sweet spot—the ideal tessitura for one’s singing voice.
Questions & Problems On Voice Classification
Should I Classify My Voice Type?
In the classification of voices, it’s very crucial for a choral singer to identify his/her voice type based on their vocal range. For solo singers, the voice classification is based on the range the singer can sing comfortable and produces the best tone most of the time.
Vocal Classification For Opera Singers
Opera singers are the ones who need vocal classification most since they have roles assigned to them depending on their voice types. In many singers, I have seen singers trying to perform roles that do not fit their voices often because they get carried away on stage and want to give their audience something better. However, the attempt to sing high or low tessitura beyond the comfortable range for a musician always gives disappointing outcomes. Most singers have the notion that some voice types are more desirable, and they go to lengths to try and bring out what they cannot offer.
Vocal Classification For Contemporary Singers
Music is constantly evolving. In modern day singing, less attention is given to voice classification. The reason could be that the contemporary singers are not trained in the typical musical techniques. It is common for today’s singers to sing out of the voices’ natural abilities and in pitches that do not match their voice types. The famous genres in the world today include jazz, pop and rock; which are not so much affected by voice classification. However, we cannot ignore the risk that is imposed on the natural vocal instruments of the singers by constantly singing out of their ranges. You can also argue that the contemporary pop and rock require that kind of “extreme” singing to succeed, but one thing that I will insist is that voice classification helps any singer to perform better. Knowing whether you are a bass-baritone, or a soprano could seem to be of little importance in the singing of some genres, but it matters a great deal.
Knowing your voice type will enable you to sing within your capabilities and to avoid singing keys that expose your vocal weaknesses but rather capitalize on your strengths.
How To Use Your Tessitura Voice
We all appreciate the flexibility of contemporary music. Now, everyone can sing without having to take music classes and mastering the G and F clefs. However, opera singing needed to pays attention to all the aspects of the voice to decide on which role a singer can comfortably take up. Therefore, in the writing of original songs, the abilities of the lead singer such as their tessitura, should be taken into consideration in terms of songwriting and composition. In doing a contemporary cover song, it is acceptable to apply transposition at many points that the singer considers as suitable but for operatic singing, the original keys and voice classification ought to be retained. In contemporary singing, no single voice is more preferred, but instead, people expect a unique performance every time so as a singer, you can always try out different singing styles and expect a warm reception from your audience.
Even as songs evolve and singers get bolder in their performances, it is always good to find your tessitura if you want to be a famous singer.