Vocal Range and Voice Profile: Adele (Updated 2021)

Vocal Range: B2 – E5 – Bb5 (D6)[1]https://therangeplanet.proboards.com/thread/1716/adele

Voice Fach: Lyric Mezzo-Soprano (3 octaves)

Vocal Rating: Singer

Analysis: One of the defining vocalists of her generation, Adele has developed a reputation for being an exemplary musician and emoter. Her musical phrasing is second to none, and is undeniably one of the strongest factors in her ability to resonate with millions across the globe (and drive her absurd commercial success). Concurrently, however, Adele has suffered from a series of vocal issues as the result of suboptimal vocal technique, resulting in a controversial reputation of her as a singer. A diplomatic assessment of her vocals would lead most to conclude that while she is a masterful artist and communicator, she is not a vocal technician, something aspiring singers should keep in mind when looking to her for inspiration.

Adele’s voice is known for having a dark, rich, and raspy tone. Her singing style sounds almost conversational at times, as she allows some air to creep into the sound, increasing the intimacy of her already expressive music. As a trained blues singer, she lavishes her phrases with small ornamentations: grace notes, trills, growls, and imperceptible flips from her chest to head voice, but doesn’t rely too heavily on these techniques to impress. These stylistic choices are perhaps most impressive in the verses of her songs, drawing listeners in before pushing her voice for power in the chorus.[2] Ex. “All I Ask,” “Rolling In The Deep.”

While Adele has been erroneously identified as a contralto because of the chesty placement of her low notes, Adele’s voice lacks the androgynous character that one would expected a true contralto. Her lower register is also not as strong or boisterous as one would need it to be, but again, her placement creates somewhat of a sonic allusion through its “low” feeling.[3]Songs From A Suitcase: Singing Teacher Reacts All I Ask – AdeleShe is instead a lyric mezzo-soprano, squarely demonstrating the “womanly” and “lachrymose” qualities of the fach.[4]Is Adele actually a good singer?

Her middle range is perhaps where her voice truly shines in simplicity: her warm and womanly timbre, combined with the natural weight of her voice and her impressive musical phrasing is never short of captivating. Her head voice is often employed with an airy, ethereal timbre, again increasing the intimacy between her and the listener. Her ability to balance her chest and head voice via half-voice is consistent live and in-studio,[5]Ex. “Someone Like You,” “All I ask.” and is one of her more impressive technical feats.

The bulk of her vocal problems stem from the demanding nature of her (self-written) repertoire, which relies heavily on chesty notes around tenor C. She pushes these notes from the chest around A4 and above, rather than relying more on the muscles in her back and abdomen, which adds tension to her voice and increases the risk of complications.[6]Supra note 3, 6:30. Even without hearing her, she often places her hand over her chest while singing, a sign that she feels tension around her sternum as the result of a shallow breath. Adele also “attacks” these notes with a guttural “huff” of air that pushes the vocal chords together, which over extensive periods of time can cause ruptures.[7]Supra note 3, 8:45.These various compensations for a lack of strong breath support also results in live performances being notably pitchy, with her notes often straying significantly from the center of the pitch. While these flaws might not deteriorate other voices, because of a rigorous touring schedule, these flaws are all magnified.

Overall, Adele is almost the zeitgeist of the modern pop vocalist: one with some technical training, but values individuality and musical expression over technical perfection. The resulting music may be more fulfilling for the artist as they can focus more on their emotions rather than putting energy towards their technical footing, but also causes difficulty in consistently replicating those results live. Regardless, Adele will surely go down as one of the most important singers of the century, and one can’t afford to overlook her impact on generations of vocalists.

What is Adele’s vocal range?

Adele’s vocal range is approximately B2 – E5 – Bb5, just shy of three octaves.

What is Adele’s vocal type or fach?

Adele is a lyric mezzo-soprano. While some assert that she is a contralto, she lacks the truly androgynous character and weight of one.

Is Adele an alto?

While Adele might sing an alto part in a choir, “alto” is not a true vocal fach. The equivalent fach is a contralto, but Adele lacks the truly androgynous character and weight of one. Instead, she is a lyric mezzo-soprano, as her voice demonstrates the womanly character, weight, timbre, and tessitura of one.

References

1 https://therangeplanet.proboards.com/thread/1716/adele
2 Ex. “All I Ask,” “Rolling In The Deep.”
3 Songs From A Suitcase: Singing Teacher Reacts All I Ask – Adele
4 Is Adele actually a good singer?
5 Ex. “Someone Like You,” “All I ask.”
6 Supra note 3, 6:30.
7 Supra note 3, 8:45.

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