Music Cataloging at Yale Music cataloging resources

Vocal Ranges

according to the New Harvard Dictionary of Music

Definitions for use in music cataloging

AACR2 does not define the ranges of vocal types. General practice is to follow the instructions given in the Subject Cataloging Manual: Subject Headings section H 1917.5: Base vocal range on the verbal indication on the item. If no vocal range is indicated, use the ranges specified in the New Harvard Dictionary of Music:

chart of vocal ranges
High voice             Medium voice Low voice

These ranges correspond to the following:
Soprano: C4-A5 Mezzo soprano: A3-F5 Alto: F3-D5
Tenor: B2-G4 Baritone: G2-E4 Bass: E2-C4

Please note that these definitions, from the New Harvard Dictionary of Music, are used in music cataloging, using the Library of Congress Subject Headings and Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd ed. (AACR2).

Vocal ranges for solo or choral works may differ, as evidenced from the different ranges found in other sources.
For example, see:
° The Wikipedia article on vocal range, which gives different ranges for operatic works and choral works.
° Catherine Schmidt-Jones' article and chart.
° Grove Music Online definitions:
       soprano: C4 to A5
       mezzo-soprano: A3 to F#5
       alto: G3 to E5 (and contralto as F3-D5)
       tenor: roughly C3 to A4
       baritone: A2 to F4
       bass: F2 to E4


Comments to Mickey Koth Yale University Music Library
Last revised March 11, 2009.