Miley Cyrus is a very talented singer and has showcased her impressive vocal range on many occasions. But is the Slide Away singer a soprano?
Yes, Miley is technically mezzo-soprano, but she may be considered a soprano because she is not afraid to explore up to that range. The reason she is generally considered a mezzo-soprano is that her voice is slightly thicker than a typical soprano.
Read on to learn about how vocal ranges work, as well as what Miley’s vocal range is!
How Vocal Ranges Work
Terms like soprano or alto, which are used to describe vocal ranges, can get quite confusing. So before we talk about Miley’s singing, let’s look at how vocal ranges are defined. Remember though, that a voice type, especially for a singing voice, is defined by more than just a person’s vocal range. Other vocal qualities like weight, tessitura, timbre, and breaks and lifts within the voice, also make a difference.
For the purpose of voice classification, women are generally divided into three groups, while men have four groups. For women, the categories are soprano, mezzo-soprano, and contralto. For men, these are countertenor, tenor, baritone, and bass. In order to account for the other vocal qualities we’ve mentioned, each of these groups has further subcategories to identify vocal differences between singers. However, vocal ranges can also be grouped into overlapping categories; ones that span about two octaves. Most singers fall into overlapping groups this way and are thus able to perform some parts in either range.
To help you remember the names of the groups themselves, think of it this way. Soprano means a high female voice and alto means a low female voice. Mezzo-soprano means a voice that, like Miley’s falls between soprano and alto. Additionally, tenor is a high male voice, and bass is a low male voice.
Miley Has a Wide Vocal Range
Miley’s voice is rather unique and you can recognize it almost immediately even if you’re not a fan. She also has a certain tone she uses when singing, and that, combined with her soulful rasp, makes her singing a treat for the ears! Miley has a versatile singing range that allows her to switch between different genres – she has made music in the pop, rock, and country genres so far – effortlessly. Songs like You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go and Nothing Breaks Like a Heart demonstrate this.
Many people seem to think that Miley is a coloratura contralto because a common misperception is that any low voiced female is a contralto. However, Miley is a mezzo-soprano. Many low voiced women are, in fact. Contraltos have a specific timbre and a certain androgyny to their voices; Miley’s voice – while deeper than the average woman – is too feminine to be contralto. She can go quite low when singing, yes, but that does not make her a contralto. Similarly, she is not a coloratura because coloraturas have agile voices; hers is not. Her voice doesn’t have the light and flexible quality of the typical coloratura. Mezzo-sopranos have lyrical and dramatic voices, so now you can see why Miley fits into this category. Her singing voice is dramatic, bright, and very lyrical.
Miley’s Singing is Often Criticized by Haters
Miley Cyrus is one of the most controversial pop stars of our generation. She has many critics and many haters, and much like everything else she does, the hate extends to her singing. However, Miley is clearly a very talented singer. Many vocal experts have praised the undeniable power she has when she sings. Miley sings smart, she knows how to make the best of her vocal range.
Bob Marks, a famous New York vocal coach, says, “She keeps it reasonable, as opposed to someone like Adele who really hurt herself by pushing herself a few notes higher than her vocal folds wanted to go. Miley’s voice is powerful. I like that she’s able to deal with volumes and contrast, particularly in ‘Wrecking Ball.’ It’s not ridiculously high. It’s B-flats and Cs—not beyond her range.” He further compares her to another pop diva, Madonna, saying, “Madonna’s always done the same thing. She’s always stayed within her vocal range.”