Vocal Range: (A1) F2 – C7*For more detailed information, including his vocal range over time, visit his incredibly researched profile at The Range Planet. His range here represents virtually every sound he’s been able … Continue reading
Vocal Fach: Lyric Baritone
Analysis: Known for his wide vocal range and expressive, gritty, and sexual delivery, Prince was an iconic vocal personality. He often employed techniques like vocal fry and “squeaks” to hit the notes in the melodies that he had written and not truly “sing” them. Prince’s instrument was a relatively small one that did not carry much volume or resonance, but he never shied away from a full-bodied vocal performance. His soft falsetto and half voice would often carry the melodies of his biggest hits like “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” while he grew from a chirpy sound to a scream on his iconic “Kiss.”
The majority of these sounds are generally not accepted as a part of a singer’s vocal range because they bypass the functions of the vocal cords.https://completevocal.institute/cathrine-sadolin/ As a result, his vocals generally fall outside of the technique that is typically appreciated and advocated by (classical) vocal coaches and vocalists. Because of this, interpretations of his range vary widely, as do those of his skill. While Prince may not have been a disciplined technician, he was still an exceptional singer; he valued putting emotive delivery far above proper vocal technique and long-term care of his instrument. Even still, he was still an excellent pop vocalist.
While he was often known for his sounds at the top of the staff, Prince still possessed a healthy and robust lower register, which is truly where he voiced shined and sounded the most comfortable. While he would often employ vocal fry to achieve some of his more extreme lower passages, his modal voice extended down to around F2, and he could create a dark sound here, even though he would drop his larynx to achieve it (“Soft and Wet”). One of his best demonstrations of this part of his range is featured in “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” which demonstrates an impressive manipulation of vocal colors to contrast his falsetto.
In the middle of his range, his natural tone began to cut through, and his style here was often a sprechstimme style of talk-singing (“Sign ‘O’ the Times” and “Let’s Go Crazy”). While he possessed a legendary upper extension, he fits the bill of a typical lyric baritone due to his tessitura.
Prince sang most of his songs in a light R&B styled falsetto, even when his chest voice would likely cover the melody just as effectively. He regularly ascended into an unwieldy and scratchy whistle register at the top of his voice. Here, he wouldn’t hold out tones with a rolling vibrato like Minnie Riperton or Mariah Carey but would glissando from one note to another (often low to high). Most pedagogists wouldn’t consider this a part of his vocal range because of his lack of control over them in the classical sense. Still, Prince’s reliance and ability to replicate these lines repeatedly in live settings should at the very least be noted.
His use of vocal drives was another signature feature of his vocal and one that often amplified his expression (“Kiss,” “The Beautiful Ones”). Even vocal technicians like Beyoncé have incorporated these “unhealthy” sounds into their performances out of admiration. His vocal range becomes difficult to quantify here, as he would ascend well into the fifth octave using a mixed, chest-driven drive that never seemed to wear out his voice even in live settings.
While not a natural, god-given athletic talent, Prince’s voice was the result of incredible discipline and musicality, thanks to his excellent musical ear, he would rarely stray from the middle of the pitch when performing and used every imaginable sound he could create using his voice to amplify his performances rather than limit himself to only sing with purity.
What do you think of Prince’s voice? Would you add anything to our analysis? Let us know by commenting below!
Prince had a wide vocal range when accounting for his unwieldy exclamations and shrieks, approximately four and a half octaves, from F2 – C7. The majority of these sounds at the top of his range are generally not accepted as a part of a singer’s vocal range because they bypass the functions of the vocal cords.
Prince was not a tenor, but rather a lyric baritone. While he had a large upper extension to his voice and would often choose to sing higher parts than most baritones – which understandably leads some to incorrectly assert that he was a tenor – his tessitura and passagio were squarely those of a lyric baritone.
|↑1||For more detailed information, including his vocal range over time, visit his incredibly researched profile at The Range Planet. His range here represents virtually every sound he’s been able to produce using his voice and doesn’t represent a true “singing range”, which would be a much smaller range than what is displayed here.|