If you find that you are a tenor vocalist you may be hunting for the best songs to suit your voice. Knowing which songs will fit your range well is a tricky thing and there are several ways of finding the best tenor songs for you.
In this article, we will explore what it means to be a tenor singer and how to find the best songs for your vocal range.
What Does Tenor Refer To?
Who Suits Singing In Tenor?
Even though every voice is different and can reach different levels of notes and note ranges, you can typically tell what kind of ranges a person will be able to meet depending on their gender. Typically, a tenor voice type is found more within males rather than females. A tenor voice is known as the higher male vocal range which lies between a countertenor and baritone voice type.
In a choir setting, a tenor voice type would be known to be the highest part for the male section of the choir. The tenor voice type can reach up to a C5 and can go as low as a B2. The specific note that is the highest and the lowest note in a tenor vocal range changes depending on the singer.
If the singer can sing much lower than B2, then they may be considered to be two types of voices and have the ability to sing two different parts. The same methodology goes when a singer can sing higher than the typical tenor range.
How to Determine if You Are a Tenor Singer
If you would like to sing in a choir or if you would like to see what type of voice type you are then we have you covered!
Knowing what range your voice sits within can be very helpful as it can speed things up when working within a large group of singers. Knowing your voice type can also help you pick out songs that will sound good for your voice.
Before we start, your range will most likely not sit perfectly within what is expected in the voice types, and therefore, you can be two types of voices at the same time. This is perfectly normal and there are plenty of songs that will glide between different voice types.
How to Find What Voice Type You Are
To figure out your voice type, you can follow these four steps:
Step 1: Understanding the Different Vocal Ranges of What Each Voice Type Sits Within
Once you can see the vocal ranges that all of the voice types sit within, you will easily be able to refer back to the piano and work out where your voice sits best.
Here is a diagram of a piano and what all the notes around middle C are called:
The way the numbering system on a keyboard works is that each note is accompanied by its given octave number. This shortens the references to the note and makes it quick and easier to explain which note you are referring to. For example, middle C is called C4 as it is the 4th C on the keyboard.
Step 2: Try to Match the Lowest Note You Can Sing to a Specific Note on the Piano
You should always match your lowest note to the note you feel is the most comfortable to sing. If you can sing a C2 comfortably but can just about reach a B2, do not count B2 as your lowest note. The B2 should not be counted as your lowest note as you have had to strain your voice to reach it.
Finding which voice type you are is all about finding out which voice type is the most comfortable for your voice. Just because you are classed as one voice type, does not mean that you will not be able to reach notes in other voice types. Whichever voice type you are comfortably able to reach the most notes in is what you should class yourself as.
Step 3: Try to Match the Highest Note You Can Sing to a Specific Note on the Piano
Just like with your lower notes, you should always match your highest note to the note you feel is the most comfortable to sing. For example, If you can sing a C6 comfortably but can just about reach a C sharp 6, do not count C sharp 6 as your highest note.
Step 4: Match Your Lowest and Highest Notes to the References Below to See Which Voice Type You Are
Once you have found out what your lowest note and your highest note are, you can then compare them to the different vocal ranges.
If you are a male singer then typically your vocal range will either sit in a bass voice type, baritone voice type, or a tenor voice type.
If you are a female singer then typically your vocal range will either sit in an alto voice type, mezzo-soprano voice type, or a soprano voice type.
Bass voice type: You will be a bass voice type if your lowest note sit between E2 to E4 and your highest note sits between C2 to G4.
Baritone voice type: You will be a baritone voice type if your lowest note sit between A2 to A4 and your highest note sits between F2 to C5.
Tenor voice type: You will be a tenor voice type if your lowest note sit between C3 to E3 and your highest note sits between C5 to E5.
Alto voice type: You will be an alto voice type if your lowest note sit between F3 to A3 and your highest note sits between F5 to A5.
Mezzo-soprano voice type: You will be a mezzo-soprano voice type if your lowest note sit between A3 to D3 and your highest note sits between A5 to C5.
Soprano voice type: You will be a soprano voice type if your lowest note sit between C4 to F4 and your highest note sits between C6 to F6.
What Makes a Song Suited for Tenor Singers?
The range of the song you are wanting to perform will determine if the song is suited for a tenor singer or not. It is common to find tenor songs but not all songs will be perfect for a tenor singer and could even put your vocals under strain.
When you are performing a song, you want to be able to portray the story of the lyrics and bring a performance element to it. This can only be achieved if you feel comfortable singing the song in the first place and therefore, it is best to pick a song that fits naturally within your range.
If you love a song but it is not working for your vocal range as a tenor, you can always change the key of the song and make it fit you and your vocal range.
If you are a male singer, you typically may be a tenor voice type, and therefore choosing songs that are sung by other male singers is a great way to start finding the right songs for you. If you are a tenor, try to find songs that are sung by men that have higher voices such as Bruno Mars or James Brown.
Finding a famous singer that has the same voice type as you will be a great guide to what songs you will be able to comfortably sing.
What if I Am Not a Tenor Singer but I Have to Sing a Tenor Song?
This is a tricky one and this actually may happen more often than you think. If you are a full-time singer or a musical theater performer, then you may have to audition with songs that are not in your comfortable voice range or contain notes that are not in your comfortable voice range.
Here is a list of what you can try if you have to sing a tenor song when you note a tenor:
- Option 1: Change the key! Often, you will be able to have flexibility with the key of the song, and therefore you can always change the key to make sure that the song does sit within your comfort range.
- Option 2: Try to practice! Practice the notes you find difficult to reach by using vocal exercises. There is a wide variety of vocal exercises available that you can incorporate into your warm-up daily. These exercises will help you broaden your range, especially if practiced daily, consistently, and across several months.
- Option 3: Sing an octave up or an octave down to the original melody! This is a quick fix that may seem simple but can actually be a great technique.
What Are the Best Songs for Tenors?
If you have searched for good songs for tenors to sing we have the answer! The easiest thing to look for when exploring which is the best song for you to sing as a tenor is a range. Although this is an obvious answer, not all of us are able to sit next to a piano and work out the range of every song.
A trick to try that is quick and easy is to look for famous male singers that have typically higher voices. Any song that they can sing easily, you will most likely be able to sing easily if you have a tenor-type voice.
Tenor Karaoke Songs – Which Are the Best Karaoke Songs for Tenors?
No matter where you decide to have a go at karaoke, these popular songs for tenors are classics on the karaoke machine! If you have a tenor voice type, then the songs below are a safe bet to try.
Pop Songs for Tenors
When it comes to karaoke or even choosing songs to start learning, songs that are classified as “pop songs” are a great place to start. The tenor pop songs we have found are suitable for both female and male voices.
Here is a full list of the best tenor songs to try on a karaoke night or to develop your voice:
- The Beatles – Let It Be
- Jason Mraz – I’m Yours
- Queen – Somebody to Love
- Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud
- Justin Timberlake – Cry Me a River
- James Taylor – You’ve Got a Friend
- Culture Club – Karma Chameleon
The Beatles – Let It Be
One of the most popular Beatles songs, Let It Be is a classic that is known across the world. This song is a great song to start with if you have a tenor voice type and will explore your range as the song goes on.
Jason Mraz – I’m Yours
Similar to singers like Ed Sheeran, Jason Mraz creates pop hits that are catchy and are written with melodies that mainly follow the same pattern. The melody to this song also stays well within a comfortable tenor vocal range.
Queen – Somebody to Love
This Queen song is one of the harder tunes suggested in this list. The song is perfect for tenor vocalists that are strong on their higher notes and has quite a range in dynamics and notes.
Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud
This romance-based ballad/pop tune was a massive hit in 2014 and is a great song for tenor voice types as the vocal melody stays within a comfortable range.
Justin Timberlake – Cry Me a River
This song is ideal for a tenor voice that is described as a high tenor. A high tenor is a voice that has a vocal range that is strong at the top of the tenor vocal range. This song is also suited to those who can sing in falsetto.
James Taylor – You’ve Got a Friend
This song was originally written by Carole King but was later covered by James Taylor. The performance given by James Taylor is a perfect example of a tenor voice.
Culture Club – Karma Chameleon
This 1984 hit is a classic pop tune that is perfect for a tenor vocal. The reason this song is ideal for tenor voice type is that the melody stays very much within a small vocal range.
Tenor Songs for Guys
As the tenor vocal range is commonly suited for male vocalists, here is a list of songs that will suit the male vocalists perfectly as they have a slightly lower range:
- Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’
- Al Green – Let’s Stay Together
- Shawn Mendes – In My Blood
- Bruno Mars – Just the Way You Are
- Ben Folds Five – Brick
- Billy Joel – She’s Always a Woman
- The Weeknd – Blinding Lights
- Sam Smith – Stay With Me
Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’
This is a classic hit that fits nicely with the lower to the middle tenor range. This song is perfect for the male voice, especially a voice that features a huskiness to give the performance a rock n roll feel.
Al Green – Let’s Stay Together
This 1972 classic has lived on throughout the years and has been featured as the soundtrack to many films and adverts. This song is ideal for male tenor voices as the main melody is deeper in tone. Let’s Stay Together was named the 60th Greatest song out of 500 by Rolling Stone in 2004.
Shawn Mendes – In My Blood
Shawn Mendes is another example of a contemporary pop artist that is a typical tenor voice. This song is ideal for a mature tenor voice and will require confidence to sing as the style of the song changes slightly in how powerful it is throughout the track.
Bruno Mars – Just the Way You Are
This 2010 ballad was a classic in popular music culture and perfect for any tenor voice type out there. The vocals are smooth and sit well within the range of a tenor vocal, making it an easy sing!
Ben Folds Five – Brick
This song is perfect for the type of voices that cover a tenor and falsetto range. Therefore, if you have a lower tenor voice type then we would recommend that you skip this one. This song is emotive and a powerful pop song that can show the variety of your voice.
Billy Joel – She’s Always a Woman
Billy Joel is a great example of a male singer that is a classic tenor voice type. Therefore if you are a tenor voice type, finding a vocalist that has the same range as you is perfect when hunting for songs to suit your voice. This 1977 hit is emotive lyrically and allows for a varied vocal performance.
The Weeknd – Blinding Lights
This 2019 hit is a pop classic that was co-written by Max Martin. This song is a great example that not all pop hits need to have high-end vocal riffs and huge variety in the vocal range. This song is the perfect learning song to practice if you have a tenor vocal range.
Sam Smith – Stay With Me
This song is a great gospel ballad that fits nicely with a tenor voice type range. The song is at a slower pace allowing an emotive performance.
Tenor Songs for Females
Even though a tenor voice type tends to be more common within a male voice, female voices can have the range of a tenor vocal.
Here we have some examples of great song options that suit female tenor voices:
- Justin Timberlake – Cry Me a River
- Sade – Smooth Operator
- Bill Weatherly – Midnight Train to Georgia
- Annie Lennox – Walking on Broken Glass
Justin Timberlake – Cry Me a River
Even though we included this song in the best tenor songs for male tenor voice types, we also want to include it in the female tenor songs too. Jorja Smith is seen covering the Justin Timberlake hit on BBC Radio 1 as part of their live lounge series. Jorja Smith’s cover proves that the songs that would suit a tenor male voice would also suit a tenor female voice.
Sade – Smooth Operator
This 1985 hit is perfect for a tenor female voice type as the melody sits well within the range. This song requires a smooth performance and often suits husky-sounding voices.
Bill Weatherly – Midnight Train to Georgia
Even though this song is performed by a man, a female tenor vocal type will suit this song perfectly. We love to give a variety of song options that fit every genre. This song is a wonderful example of an RnB song that works well for all tenor-type voices.
Midnight Train to Houston was such a popular song that Gladys Knight and the Pips’ 1973 covered the song and created their own versions.
Annie Lennox – Walking on Broken Glass
Looking for a song that is suited to a female tenor voice? Annie Lennox is a great example of a female tenor voice type and therefore most of her songs suit female tenor voices. This song is a favorite of many as it is upbeat and emotive.
Popular Songs for Lower Tenors
If your vocal range fits within the tenor range but you struggle to reach the higher note of a typical tenor range, then we have you covered. Here are some examples of song options you could choose if you have a lower tenor type of vocal:
- Michael Bublé – It’s a Beautiful Day
- Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On
- Eagles – Take It Easy
Michael Bublé – It’s a Beautiful Day
For those who prefer to perform a happy, upbeat song then Michael Buble has you covered. This song in particular has a cheery meaning and performance and is a steady song for a tenor vocal type to perform.
The reason this song is a great one to perform if you have a tenor vocal type is that the melody stays well within the tenor vocal range and does not differ too much. Lower tenor vocals will also suit this song as it is well within the lower tenor note range.
Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On
This is a classic song that you will most likely recognize even if you have not heard the full version. This song has been used in films, tv shows, and adverts across the world and is a favorite for tenor singers.
Marvin Gaye is known to excel in the genre of soul and provides smooth, slow vocals over this hit. This song was so popular that it topped the Billboard singles chart for two weeks.
Eagles – Take It Easy
This song by the famous rock band the Eagles is a great song for tenor vocalists, especially if you enjoy performing songs that fit within the rock genre rather than the pop genre. The vocal melody that is originally sung by the lead singer Glenn Frey is smooth and easy to follow.
The song itself has an exciting feel to it while the vocal melody in particular is performed in a laid-back fashion.
Best Tenor Songs Suited for Musical Theater Auditions
If you fit nicely within the tenor voice type and want to pick the perfect song to audition with then we have you covered. The song options we have picked all nicely fit within the tenor vocal range while some push the high vocal range more than others.
Here is a full list of song options to choose from when auditioning that will fit the tenor voice range:
- Shrek – When Words Fails By Jeanine Tesori & David Lindsay Abaire
- BIG – Cross The Line by David Shire and Richard Maltby, Jr.
- BRIGADOON – There But For You Go I By Frederick Lowe and Alan Jay Lerner
- LITTLE WOMEN – Take a Chance on Me By Jason Howland and Mindi Dickstein
- WAITRESS – It Only Takes a Taste By Sara Bareilles
- EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE – The Wall in My Head By Dan Gillespie and Tom MacRae
Shrek – When Words Fails By Jeanine Tesori & David Lindsay Abaire
This emotive song is a popular audition option from the musical Shrek. The vocal melody fits nicely within the tenor voice type range while also being a slower number to express other vocal techniques. While the vocal can be expressive, the lyrics are quirkily allowing a performance element.
BIG – Cross The Line by David Shire and Richard Maltby, Jr.
This song is one of the more lively hits from the musical Big. This would be a great song to use as audition material as it is a joyful hit that can fit the tenor voice type well while also giving room to show performance skills.
BRIGADOON – There But For You Go I By Frederick Lowe and Alan Jay Lerner
This song is a classic that is performed in the musical Brigadoon and is often performed as audition material. If you are wanting to show your skill of holding notes, then this ballad is the perfect fit for your tenor voice.
LITTLE WOMEN – Take a Chance on Me By Jason Howland and Mindi Dickstein
This is a popular song performed in the musical Little Women. This song has exciting energy about it and is very uptempo. This song is great for a tenor voice that can also reach high notes as this song reaches a high B. This song can show the variety of your voice and ability to perform fast-paced songs.
WAITRESS – It Only Takes a Taste By Sara Bareilles
This is one of the songs that is a more popular hit from the West End show Waitress. As the show Waitress is a new show, this song will be a very contemporary option to show your vocals off within an audition. This song comfortably sits within the tenor range, with not too many vocal changes throughout the song.
EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE – The Wall in My Head By Dan Gillespie and Tom MacRae
This is one of the songs that is a more popular hit from the West End show Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. Again, just like Waitress, this would be a great contemporary song to sing in an audition, especially if your voice type is tenor.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
There are hundreds of songs that would be suitable for tenor vocalists that can comfortably fit within the range. Some tenor songs are harder than others and may even push your range but with practice, you will get better at singing these songs. Songs that are suited for tenor singers include modern hits like ‘Cry Me a River’ by Justin Timberlake to older hits like ‘Lets Get It On’ by Marvin Gaye.
Ed Sheeran is known to be a tenor singer but also specificities in other voice ranges such as baritenor. Ed Sheeran also has a comfortable falsetto range which gives him flexibility when writing and singing. Even though Ed Sheeran is comfortable singing in falsetto, his main range would lie within a typical tenor singers range.
There are plenty of famous singers that are more suited to tenor-style songs and could be classed as tenor singers. Some of the famous tenor voices that you hear are known for being legendary within the popular music scene. These tenor voices include Freddie Mercury who was the lead singer of the worldwide rock band Queen. Stevie Wonder, who is known as the king of soul, is also a tenor singer.
Yes, women can sing tenor parts and have tenor-suited voices just like men. In some cases, female voices are better suited to tenor parts and tenor songs than alto. This is because the alto is the lowest female choral part and this can be too low or too high for some female voices, depending on the person. Some female vocalists find that they struggle to reach the A above the middle C where the alto would comfortably reach, making them more suited to tenor, which is typically a male range. Female singers that prefer tenor parts are not uncommon and most likely you will find half a dozen to a dozen female tenor singers per choir.
Tenor singing refers to the type of voice that you have and what range of notes that voice suits best. Tenor singing can also refer to a singing part, especially if you are herding the phrase “tenor singing” in a choir setting. In a choir, there are multiple parts for different types of voices and the tenor part is one of them. Tenor singing typically refers to the highest male vocal range which is commonly from the second B below missile C to the G above middle C. This vocal range is classed as being high for a male.
Any song that would feature in a musical theater production that is made after the late 1960s classes as a contemporary musical theater song. A contemporary musical theater song is also meant to be sung with amplification. There are plenty of contemporary musical theater songs that are perfect for tenor singers including songs that feature in the show Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. Check out our list above to see which are the best tenor musical theater songs to perform, especially if you are wanting to use these songs for an audition.
No matter what kind of voice type you have, there are plenty of song options for your vocal range. If you are a tenor voice type then there are hundreds of popular songs that are suited for your voice type alone.
We would recommend that you work out your personal vocal range using a piano first and thing specifically searching for songs based on your personal voice. Even though you may be classed as a tenor, you may suit higher tenor songs or lower tenor songs.
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