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View Full Version : QUESTION: vocal range and ukulele size



HoldinCoffee
02-25-2009, 12:12 PM
I have a tenor singing voice.

Is there some basic thoery on pairing a singing voice with an ukulele? For instance, does the tenor human require a tenor ukulele as accompaniment? Or does the tenor human voice seek a soprano ukulele for constrast? I know, I know, it depends on the song. But generally speaking.

Put it this way, please answer TWO questions:

1) Would you describe your natural singing voice soprano, alto, tenor or baritone?
2) if you were thrown onstage with a moment's notice to sing and play an entire set, and could only choose ONE ukulele (each of the sizes is available to you) as your only accompaniment, what size uke would you choose?

BONUS QUESTION: Why?

Stackabones
02-25-2009, 03:18 PM
It's not the size of the uke that matters ... ;)

Actually, it doesn't matter. What matters is the song's key. The key of C (or any key) can be played on any sized uke. If the song is in C, play it C on a soprano, a tenor or a baritone. You just have to make sure the song is in the right key for your voice, not that you have the rigth sized uke for your voice.

Though I will mention that I prefer singing with a nylon-string instrument, uke or guitar. I often sing with a steel-string guitar, but I really prefer the sound of my voice with a uke or nylon-string guitar.

A voice teacher I briefly studied under said that I could develop into a low tenor, but I feel that I'm closer to a baritone.

Were I given one choice of a uke, it would be a tenor because I like the longer neck.

SailQwest
02-25-2009, 04:01 PM
Soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles are all typically tuned the same. A tenor is not lower in range than a soprano, it just produces a bigger sound.

1) I am a soprano, and I play a C-tuned concert (usually). My husband is a low tenor and plays a G-tuned tenor (it's tuned like a baritone). The ranges happen to match our voices pretty well, but it may be coincidence.
2) I play a concert because it's the size most comfortable for me to play. Ditto for Rich and his tenor. He really likes the baritone tuning, but a bari was just too big for the boat, so he ended up with a tenor.

HoldinCoffee
02-25-2009, 06:12 PM
I see, I'm looking at this from the wrong angle, a 'square peg' sorta thing. Thank you both for the helpful input. :cheers:

HaileISela
02-25-2009, 08:30 PM
It's not the size of the uke that matters ... ;)

Actually, it doesn't matter. What matters is the song's key. The key of C (or any key) can be played on any sized uke. If the song is in C, play it C on a soprano, a tenor or a baritone. You just have to make sure the song is in the right key for your voice, not that you have the rigth sized uke for your voice.

Though I will mention that I prefer singing with a nylon-string instrument, uke or guitar. I often sing with a steel-string guitar, but I really prefer the sound of my voice with a uke or nylon-string guitar.

A voice teacher I briefly studied under said that I could develop into a low tenor, but I feel that I'm closer to a baritone.

Were I given one choice of a uke, it would be a tenor because I like the longer neck.

hell yeah, baritone voices ftw^^ and I played Bari Sax too!:cool:

but for the Ukes, since they are tuned the same, as the others already stated, it's not it's size, but the key that matters. If you can't sing a song in the actual key, try to transpose it one step higher or lower, might solve the problem!

HoldinCoffee
02-26-2009, 05:56 PM
So singing in key... the key of C. The uke has a high C, right? Isn't high C what Mariah Carey sings when she goes supersonic? I can't sing high c! Only Mariah and dolphins can do that.

Perhaps I should read a book.

sukie
02-26-2009, 06:29 PM
Why not check out one of Howlin Hobbit's videos? He sings and plays a soprano and I've seen him with a sopranino. It works.

HaileISela
02-26-2009, 11:58 PM
So singing in key... the key of C. The uke has a high C, right? Isn't high C what Mariah Carey sings when she goes supersonic? I can't sing high c! Only Mariah and dolphins can do that.

Perhaps I should read a book.

there are a lot of high c's, so there is a difference^^
And you don't have to sing in the Ukes range, it is accompaniment. you can sing bass while the uke plays the chords in a higher range, that's a part of its speciality

HoldinCoffee
02-27-2009, 09:35 AM
Thank you all for your input! I know how to sing and I can play. But putting the two together in front of people is stressing me out! But I'm just gonna go with it and not overanalyze.
When I started playing the uke, I figured I'd just get a tenor to match my voice, I like symmetry. But I found a soprano first and I really fell in love with the sweet sound. My fingers yearned for more neck and frets, but my ears are still in love with the soprano. So I have compromised and found a longneck soprano. It won't arrive until next week (long story), so I'm going with a regular soprano. And I've been studying the performances of the late Andy Kauffman, so I really can't go wrong!

As for my atempts at music theory, the following is a summary of what I have learned:
If it sounds good, go with it. If it sounds BAD, use it to set up the good stuff. That's all I got.

PoisonDart
02-27-2009, 10:30 AM
I find it easier to harmonize directly with my baritone, as it's range is closer to mine, but i find the punchy effect of a higher uke to be very nice...

With my baritone I can feel it in my tummy when I'm singing the same pitch as the lowest note.

ricdoug
03-02-2009, 10:27 PM
My vocal range goes from a very low bass (about 5 steps below what most males can sing) and a very high tenor (like you hear in opera). Like others have stated, it's the key you play and sing in. I have eight ukules and they are all soprano. I also have 58 guitars and one bass. Nothing in between. A C on a guitar is the same as a C on a soprano uke, just in a different octave. Ric

MysticRatboy
04-24-2009, 07:45 AM
These are the voice ranges:
Ref: Piano's middle C = C4
* Soprano: C4 - C6
* Mezzo-Soprano: A3 - A5
* Contralto: F3 - F5
* Tenor: C3 - C5
* Baritone: F2 - F4
* Bass/Basso: E2 - E4

I think:
Ukulele's 3rd string = C3
Ukulele's 1st string 3rd fret = C4
Guitar's 6th string = E2
Guitar's 1st string = E4

Theory crafting if you want more bass to go with your voice, probably have the 4th string tuned low G.