Being able to vocalise from very low to very high is certainly beneficial, but which singer has the most octaves of them all? You might just be surprised to find out.
Singers with a 6-octave range are a rarity. And some of the famous names you may assume have loads of notes may have fewer than you’d realised. Your range isn’t everything, but it can certainly help you stand out from the crowd in a competitive industry.
Read on to learn who tops the charts when it comes to range and the tools they use to do it.
Singers with a 6-octave range
Spanning six octaves is an eye-watering feat. And to sing this amount of notes artists will use a number of techniques including falsetto, vocal fry or whistle register. Be careful of trying to copy this. If you want to harness these kinds of skills, you should work with an experienced vocal coach to ensure you protect your voice.
There are more singers who manage 5 and 4-octaves, but this is still considered to be a major achievement and requires some serious technique combined with natural ability.
Which singer has the most octaves?
When we talk about vocal range, there are a few famous names who jump immediately to mind. Some artists build their ability into their songwriting to show it off, while others ad lib vocally using vocal runs to leave us in no doubt as to what they can do. While much of what they can do comes down to genetics and physiology dictating how flexible their vocal cords are, it’s also something that can be developed over time and increased.
But it’s not a famous face who has the most octaves of all.
This is Tim Storms, a singer in possession of an incredible 10 octaves!!! He’s a Guinness World Record Breaker and has recorded material, although has never seen significant success in the industry. Watch this astounding video to see what he can do.
Singers with the best vocal range
You may be surprised to learn that the singers with the highest vocal range, are rock singers and usually tenors. Not pop divas or opera chanteuses, but rockers. And why is this? Because rock requires techniques like vocal fry and falsetto, that take singers to both lower and higher levels than the modal register.
Female singers with a 6-octave range
There seems to be fewer women than men in this category, as falsetto and vocal fry open up additional registers for guys. If you do decide to try and extend your range further, whistling is the best way to access another register for women.
Highest vocal range – female
Perhaps the first person that comes to mind is the stalwart of pop and big ballads, Mariah Carey. She takes a special place in this category, as she has one of the highest ranges among famous female singers – and by a long way.
She is a prolific user of the whistle register and was frequently compared to another big range singer, Whitney Houston (another 5-octave singer who had 11 number one hits). Mariah is the best-selling female performer of all time, with a voice that has been described as elastic.
Another 4-octave singer is Ariana Grande. And what makes this female star especially remarkable is that she has no formal training. Although as a French Horn player, she already had a good grounding in breath control, the foundation for singing.
She also uses her whistle register to hit very high notes, a technique that can damage the voice if not done properly. Singing runs in Ariana’s family, with her half-brother Frankie, an accomplished musical theatre performer.
Singers with a wide vocal range
Christina Aguilera doesn’t quite reach Mariah’s dizzy heights, but she’s not far short with 4 octaves. She’s a lyric mezzo-soprano, with the same range as pop rival Britney Spears. Her vocal has earned her five Grammy awards and a place on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Other big names with a 5-octave range are Shanice, Prince and Kyo, plus jazz singer Rachelle Ferrell.
Which male singer has the most octaves?
Male singers who really have a 6-octave range include Adam Lopez (6 octaves and 3 semitones), Corey Taylor of Slipknot (6 octaves and 1 semitone) and Dimash (A1 – D8, 6 octaves and 5 semitones). In 2019, Dimash was presented by CBS on The World’s Best as “the man with the world’s widest vocal range”. “One minute you’re Queen, and the next minute you’re Pavarotti.” Commented celebrity judge Drew Barrymore.
Mike Patton’s octave range
Mike Patton is best known as the lead singer for Faith No More, but after the band broke up in the late 1990s, he sang with Fantomas and Tomahawk. And his time with Faith No More was overlapped with his time in Mr Bungle. Patton is also an accomplished composer, cementing his place on the musical map. He has one of the widest known ranges for any singer, with a full 6 octaves. Check out this vocal coach’s reaction to him at work.
Internationally acclaimed vocalists like Mike Patton have climbed the musical ladder by capitalising on their ability to master a huge range. Using ethereal spine-tingling sounds, or earthy, rich and deep tones, they continually top the charts and fill stadiums.
Axl Rose’s octave range
This American singer-songwriter, composer, record producer and musician has 5 octaves. He’s the only member of Guns N Roses to have stayed since their inception in 1985. Axl Rose flies up and down the octaves, adding variety and depth to the band’s array of hit numbers.
Freddie Mercury’s octave range
It may surprise you to find out that Freddie Mercury could sing just over 3-octaves. So he’s not a chart-topper in range terms, although he was a legendary chart-topper in music terms. But he made the most of every single one of those notes and had an amazing falsetto, not to mention incredible performance style.
Another male pop singer with a great range (4 octaves) whose name you may not instantly recognise is Brendan Urie, the lead singer of Panic! At the Disco. He’s a versatile artist, has dueted with Taylor Swift and also writes music.
The vocal range of famous singers
To prove you don’t need a huge range to be famous, Adele performs well within a ‘normal’ spectrum of notes across 2-octaves. Her range deepened some while she was pregnant. But her stunning sounds don’t rely on any vocal acrobatics.
The French Canadian diva Celine Dion has a beautiful resonant belt across 3-octaves with a lovely lower range. She has quite a nasal quality which adds to her distinctiveness but isn’t to everyone’s taste. A lyric soprano, she has excellent skills in modulation (changing and adjusting your voice – like jumping a key, or dropping to a whisper). This helps create a dramatic sound that suits her Las Vegas residency.
Singers with 2 and 3-octave ranges
Other famous 2 and 3-octave artists include Elvis Presley, Cheryl Cole, Beyonce and Chris Martin. 2 to 3 octaves is average for both men and women. So you have plenty of room for development. Over time you should be able to gain at least another octave. Focus on quality not quantity though. Don’t stretch your voice at the expense of your tone and sound.
Some of the singers mentioned in this article can vocalise twice as many notes than are usually available in the vocal register. But of course, famous and professional singers can cover more octaves. The voice is flexible and vocal range increases with practice – something these guys are doing constantly.
What singer has my vocal range?
To find this out, you’ll need to find out your own range. Ask your singing teacher what your vocal range is, or do a vocal range test. Or you can play through a scale to find out where your voice is comfortable, noting as you go. You can also use tech to help you. There are apps to measure your pitch and range.
For more information on discovering and improving your vocal range, check out this article.
Once you know how many octaves and notes you can sing, compare it to the lists and charts of famous artists’ ranges. If during these tests you discover you have a range of four octaves or more, make sure to find songs that showcase all the notes you can sing. Producers, songwriters and labels are always keen to find singers with this kind of capability, so provided you have good tone, technique and performance style, you may be a step ahead of the rest.
Not everyone suits vocal runs and whistling, so don’t be downhearted if this is out of reach for you. And by writing your own music you can ensure you sing notes that really suit you and show off your vocal ability. Having a huge vocal range is a bit like being super fit, or flexible. You have to keep doing it to retain it. If you’re naturally blessed with lots of notes, then make sure you make song choices that show off your ability and flex those vocal muscles frequently. If you don’t use it, then you might just lose it, particularly as your voice matures.
- How many octaves can a singer sing?
2-octaves would be average, but some have more or less. Three and above is considered good. Add some falsetto, whistle and vocal fry to your technique and you should be able to add an octave to your range, whatever your starting point.
- What singer had the widest vocal range in history?
The singer with the best vocal range is Tim Storms from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He hits notes so low only animals the size of elephants can hear them. Storms can sing a whopping number of notes – G/G#-5 to G/G#5 (0.7973 Hz – 807.3 Hz) but isn’t a famous name – because your vocal range isn’t everything.
- How do you list your vocal range?
As a professional singer, you may be asked what your range is. It can be helpful to add it to your CV or website, but be sure to keep any details updated. Your range may change as you mature and with (or without practice). List your range by notes, as we have for Tim Storms in the section above.
Which singers with a 6-octave range do you aspire to be like? Tell us who and why in the comments section below.