If you’ve never been a part of a choir, you may not be aware of the fact that not every choir is built from the same components. There are choirs categorized by the institutions they represent (church, collegiate, community), and those are further separated into all-female, mixed, all-male groups. But there are more divisions once you’re in your specific choir to best suit the vocal instrument!

It’s likely that if you’ve attended a choir performance during the holidays, or a choral performance at a school function, you’ve encountered the most common type of chorus make-up: The SATB Mixed Choir.

The SATB Choir is comprised of four voice types: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass, and each section is made up of men and women.

Soprano – The soprano voice type is the highest vocal range that humans can sing in.  The range of a soprano voice falls between A3 or B♭3 (just below middle C) and “soprano C” (C6 two octaves above middle C). Sopranos are typically women, but men can occasionally be sopranos, and are referred to as “sopranists”


Alto – Alto voices are the second highest vocal range in choral arrangements. Again, it’s typically a female type, but it can sometimes be used to describe the highest male voices (aka countertenors). The range for an alto falls between G3 (the G below middle C) to F5 (the F in the second octave above middle C).


Tenor – The tenor range is the range where we typically see a high concentration of the “higher” male voices. Tenor voices start (at its highest) at D5 range to as low as A♭2 .   Tenors can be broken down into several subcategories, depending on range: leggero, lyric, spint, dramatic, heldentenro, Mozart, and tenor buffo.



Bass – The deepest and lowest voice in the choral vocal range, bass voice types are almost always males (although there is the occasional female bass singer, like Juliana Strangelove). The Bass voice can range from as low as C2 to as high as high F♯ or G


Find more of Jo-Michael Scheibe’s resources online. His teaching presentations are available at JoMichaelScheibe.org and follow him on Twitter @jmscheibe.