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{{short description|Classical singing voice with the highest vocal range}}{{About|the female voice type|a male singer able to sing in the soprano range|Sopranist|other uses}}{{Voice type}}{{Use dmy dates|date=February 2019}}A soprano {{IPA-it|soˈpraːno|}} is a type of classical female singing voice and has the highest vocal range of all voice types. The soprano's vocal range (using scientific pitch notation) is from approximately middle C (C4) = 261 Hz to "high A" (A5) = 880 Hz in choral music, or to "soprano C" (C6, two octaves above middle C) = 1046 Hz or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which often encompasses the melody.BOOK, Bel Canto: A History of Vocal Pedagogy, Stark, James, 2003, University of Toronto Press, 978-0-8020-8614-3, The soprano voice type is generally divided into the coloratura, soubrette, lyric, spinto, and dramatic soprano.BOOK, Aronson, Arnold Elvin, Bless, Diane M., Clinical Voice Disorders, 2009, Thieme Medical Publishers, New York, NY, 978-1-58890-662-5, 278, 4th,weblink 1 November 2014,


The word "soprano" comes from the Italian word (wikt:sopra|sopra) (above, over, on top of),"Soprano", Encyclopædia Britannica as the soprano is the highest pitch human voice, often given to the leading female roles in operas.WEB, The Opera 101,weblink 21 April 2016, "Soprano" refers mainly to women, but it can also be applied to men; "sopranist" is the term for a male countertenor able to sing in the soprano vocal range,BOOK, The Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults, McKinney, James, 1994, Genovex Music Group, 978-1-56593-940-0, while a castrato is the term for a castrated male singer, typical of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, and a treble is a boy soprano who has not reached puberty yet and still able to sing in that range.The term "soprano" is also based on the Latin word (wikt:superior#Latin|superius) which, like soprano, referred to the highest pitch vocal range of all human voice types. The word superius was especially used in choral and other multi-part vocal music between the 13th and 16th centuries.

Voice type

File:Soprano voice range on keyboard.svg|thumb|upright=1.8|Soprano vocal range (C4–C6) notated on the treble staff (left) and on piano keyboard in green with dot marking middle C]]{| align=right|{ new Staff with { remove "Time_signature_engraver" } c'4 c'''4 }The soprano has the highest vocal range of all voice types, with the highest tessitura. A soprano and a mezzo-soprano have a similar range, but their tessituras will lie in different parts of that range.BOOK, Guide to Operatic Roles and Arias, Boldrey, Richard, 1994, Caldwell Publishing Company, 978-1-877761-64-5, The low extreme for sopranos is roughly A3 or B{{music|b}}3 (just below middle C). Within opera, the lowest demanded note for sopranos is F3 (from Richard Strauss's Die Frau ohne SchattenDie Frau ohne Schatten vocal score, Dover vocal scores 2003, act 1, scene 2, 5th bar of figure 102, {{ISBN|0-486-43127-4}}). Often low notes in higher voices will project less, lack timbre, and tend to "count less" in roles (although some Verdi, Strauss and Wagner roles call for stronger singing below the staff). However, rarely is a soprano simply unable to sing a low note in a song within a soprano role. Low notes can be reached with a lowered position of the larynx.The high extreme, at a minimum, for non-coloratura sopranos is "soprano C" (C6 two octaves above middle C), and many roles in the standard repertoire call for C{{music|#}}6 or D6. A couple of roles have optional E{{music|b}}6s, as well. In the coloratura repertoire several roles call for E{{music|b}}6 on up to F6. In rare cases, some coloratura roles go as high as G6 or G{{music|#}}6, such as Mozart's concert aria "Popoli di Tessaglia!", or the title role of Jules Massenet's opera Esclarmonde. While not necessarily within the tessitura, a good soprano will be able to sing her top notes full-throated, with timbre and dynamic control.BOOK, Coloratura, Lyric and Dramatic Soprano, Vol. 1, Coffin, Berton, 1960, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 978-0-8108-0188-2, In opera, the tessitura, vocal weight, and timbre of voices, and the roles they sing, are commonly categorized into voice types, often called ({{abbr|sg.|singular}} , from German or , "vocal category"). A singer's tessitura is where the voice has the best timbre, easy volume, and most comfort.

In choral music

{{Choral voice classification}}In SATB four-part mixed chorus, the soprano is the highest vocal range, above the alto, tenor, and bass. Sopranos commonly sing in the tessitura G4-A5. When the composer calls for divisi, sopranos can be separated into Soprano I (highest part) and Soprano II (lower soprano part).In contrast to choral singing, in classical solo singing a person is classified through the identification of several vocal traits, including range, vocal timbre, vocal weight, vocal tessitura, vocal resonance, and vocal transition points (lifts or "passaggio") within the singer's voice.{{fact|date=February 2019}}These different traits are used to identify different sub-types within the voice, sometimes referred to as (sg. fach, from German or , "vocal category"). Within opera, particular roles are written with specific kinds of soprano voices in mind, causing certain roles to be associated with certain kinds of voices.BOOK, The Science of Vocal Pedagogy: Theory and Application, Appelman, D. Ralph, 1986, Indiana University Press, 978-0-253-20378-6,

Subtypes and roles in opera

{{hatnote|See soprano subtype Main articles below for roles and singers.}}Within the soprano voice type category are five generally recognized subcategories: coloratura soprano, soubrette, lyric soprano, spinto soprano, and dramatic soprano.


The coloratura soprano may be a lyric coloratura or a dramatic coloratura. The lyric coloratura soprano is a very agile light voice with a high upper extension capable of fast vocal coloratura. Light coloraturas have a range of approximately middle C (C4) to "high F" (in alt) (F6) with some coloratura sopranos being able to sing somewhat lower or higher,BOOK, The Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults, McKinney, James, 1994, Genovex Music Group, 978-1-56593-940-0, e.g. an interpolated A{{music|b}}6 in the Doll Aria, "Les oiseaux dans la charmille", from The Tales of Hoffmann, e.g. by Rachele Gilmore in a 2009 performance, and a written A{{music|natural}}6 by Audrey Luna in 2017 in The Exterminating Angel, both at the Metropolitan Opera in New York."At the Met Opera, a Note So High, It's Never Been Sung Before" by Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times, 7 November 2017The dramatic coloratura soprano is a coloratura soprano with great flexibility in high-lying velocity passages, yet with great sustaining power comparable to that of a full spinto or dramatic soprano. Dramatic coloraturas have a range of approximately "low B" (B3) to "high F" (F6) with some coloratura sopranos being able to sing somewhat higher or lower.


In classical music and opera, a soubrette soprano refers to both a voice type and a particular type of opera role. A soubrette voice is light with a bright, sweet timbre, a tessitura in the mid-range, and with no extensive coloratura. The soubrette voice is not a weak voice, for it must carry over an orchestra without a microphone like all voices in opera. The voice, however, has a lighter vocal weight than other soprano voices with a brighter timbre. Many young singers start out as soubrettes, but, as they grow older and the voice matures more physically, they may be reclassified as another voice type, usually either a light lyric soprano, a lyric coloratura soprano, or a coloratura mezzo-soprano. Rarely does a singer remain a soubrette throughout her entire career. A soubrette's range extends approximately from middle C (C4) to "high D" (D6).Music Dictionary Vm–Vz: Voice (s.), Voices (pl.) – coloratura-soubrette or soprano lirico leggiero, Dolmetsch The tessitura of the soubrette tends to lie a bit lower than the lyric soprano and spinto soprano.


The lyric soprano is a warm voice with a bright, full timbre, which can be heard over a big orchestra. It generally has a higher tessitura than a soubrette and usually plays ingénues and other sympathetic characters in opera. Lyric sopranos have a range from approximately below middle C (C4) to "high D" (D6).The lyric soprano may be a light lyric soprano or a full lyric soprano. The light lyric soprano has a bigger voice than a soubrette but still possesses a youthful quality. The full lyric soprano has a more mature sound than a light-lyric soprano and can be heard over a bigger orchestra.


Also lirico-spinto, Italian for "pushed lyric", the spinto soprano has the brightness and height of a lyric soprano, but can be "pushed" to dramatic climaxes without strain, and may have a somewhat darker timbre. Spinto sopranos have a range from approximately from B (B3) to "high D" (D6).


A dramatic soprano (or soprano robusto) has a powerful, rich, emotive voice that can sing over a full orchestra. Usually (but not always) this voice has a lower tessitura than other sopranos, and a darker timbre. Dramatic sopranos have a range from approximately A (A3) to "high C" (C6).Some dramatic sopranos, known as Wagnerian sopranos, have a very big voice that can assert itself over an exceptionally large orchestra (over eighty pieces). These voices are substantial and very powerful and ideally even throughout the registers.

Other types

Two other types of soprano are the Dugazon and the Falcon, which are intermediate voice types between the soprano and the mezzo-soprano: a Dugazon is a darker-colored soubrette, a Falcon a darker-colored soprano drammatico.

See also



Further reading

  • BOOK, Singer's Edition: Operatic Arias – Light Lyric Soprano, Boldrey, Richard, Robert Caldwell, Werner Singer, Joan Wall and Roger Pines, 1992, Caldwell Publishing Company, 978-1-877761-02-7,
  • BOOK, Singer's Edition: Operatic Arias – Soubrette, Boldrey, Richard, Robert Caldwell, Werner Singer, Joan Wall and Roger Pines, 1992, Caldwell Publishing Company, 978-1-877761-03-4,

External links

{{Wiktionary}} {{Range (music)}}{{authority control}}

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