Aretha Franklin: Voice Profile and Vocal Range (2022)

Vocal Range: G2 – D6 – E6[1]https://therangeplanet.proboards.com/thread/328/aretha-franklin

Vocal Fach: Falcon Soprano (3 octaves and a major sixth)

Vocal Rating: Virtuoso

Analysis: One of the defining vocalists of the 20th century, The Queen of Soul was undoubtedly one of the most talented vocalists to ever enter the mainstream. Her rich, heavy, and dark voice combined with legendary interpretive wit has continued to inspire singers today. Not only did Franklin have outstanding natural talent and potential, but she also had the access and resources to develop it. Trained vocally at an early age in Baptist churches and a self-taught pianist, Franklin developed an incredible knowledge of musical phrasing and vocal pedagogy as she was raised around some of the world’s greatest singers (Mahalia Jackson, Clara Ward, and Marvin Gaye to name a few). She crafted incredible musical pieces by utilizing rhythmic variations and motifs, dynamics, articulations, vocal colors, and drives to create original and brilliant phrases.

One of her defining vocal traits was her vocal agility and fluidity. Her melismatic prowess first brought the melisma into popular music, with her incredible pearl-like clarity and agility. She had no issue executing runs both in ascending and descending forms, with deft negotiations of her passagio. Her voice from top to bottom was almost perfectly blended, allowing her to access a tenor’s lower range at G2 all the way to D6 with a balanced mixed voice. Across this range, she demonstrated great articulation and diction, which allowed for scatting and different tone experimentation.

Her voice, especially in her middle register, came with a slight nasality to it. While teachers of Bel Canto singing would try to rid the voice of this effect, in Gospel styles of singing, this is preferred, and for good reason: while too much nasality can rob a voice of resonance, “a slight nasal port opening [boosts] amplitude of higher harmonics.”[2]Aretha Franklin: Paragon of Vocal Technique This nasality added an airy and earthy tone to her voice, one that creates a conversational level of intimacy.

While known best for her big, powerful “belty” sound, her lower register was also rich and warm. Hit with a neutral larynx, Franklin reached down with incredible ease and accuracy, projecting down to G2 and remaining robust down to C#3. Although her voice naturally thinned out around C3, she didn’t push her sound to reach below that point. This strong lower register contributes to Franklin’s vocal fach as a Falcon soprano, a rare voice type with the resonant lows and tessitura of a mezzo-soprano, but with the range and weight of a soprano.

As she ascended, Franklin’s vocal colors continued to blossom, showing off a slightly nasal but thunderous middle register. The belting register displayed incredible freedom, resonance, elasticity, and fluidity, soaring into her perfect mixed voice. This register was full and projected throughout, relying fully on breath support with little interaction from the rest of her mouth and throat. Franklin’s technique can attest to her ability to sustain each note in this area up to that mixed D6. This area also gained a slight, airy rasp before becoming grittier around G5, and a wide rolling vibrato.

Her head voice was seamlessly connected to the rest of her range, again showing incredible control of her passagio. It’s bright and full, with the rich rolling vibrato seen in the chest voice. As she has aged, her voice has lost some of its power and rich color likely as a result of being a smoker for several decades, although she mitigated this decline due to exceptional care for her instrument, and her musical knowledge never faltered.

What was Aretha Franklin’s vocal range?

Aretha Franklin had a vocal range spanning almost four octaves, from G2 – D6 – E6.

What was Aretha Franklin’s voice type or fach?

Aretha Franklin was a falcon soprano, a rare fach. A falcon soprano is a dramatic voice with a tessitura and timbre similar to a mezzo-soprano, but with the weight and range of a soprano, named after French opera singer Cornélie Falcon (1814-1897). Franklin may also be considered a coloratura soprano due to her exceptional fluidity and agility.

Was Aretha Franklin a mezzo-soprano?

Aretha Franklin was a falcon soprano, a rare fach. A falcon soprano is a dramatic voice with a tessitura and timbre similar to a mezzo-soprano, but with the weight and range of a soprano, named after French opera singer Cornélie Falcon (1814-1897). Franklin may also be considered a coloratura soprano due to her exceptional fluidity and agility.

Related posts