Wednesday, 1 December 2010

[Vocal Profile] Aaliyah


Vocal Type: Light Lyric Soprano
Vocal Range:G2-E6 (3 Octaves 5 Note ) ( E3-G5)
Whistle Register: No
Vocal Pluses: This Diva possessed a remarkably smooth and seductive tone that carried through much of the range. Never considered a "powerhouse" vocalist, the strength in this voice lay in the texture, phrasing and canny use of the different registers to impress. [Listen as she creates drama in I Refuse without falling back on the cliches of power or increased dynamics to do so.]

Aaliyah possessed a solid lower range that was dark and warm. Slightly smokey, the voice was always well supported here, resulting in a sound that was clear, strong and free from the fogginess many Diva's suffer at the bottom of their voice [Death of A Playa].

The smokey, hazy character followed through into Aaliyah's easy mid-range. Here the voice was equally weighty, though less so the higher the voice climbed, and was sweeter and more gentle than the lower range [Try Again]. As with its lower and higher counterparts, notes produced here had an intrinsic character that made a vocal immediately attributable to the Aaliyah.

Though not known for her belting range, Aaliyah did have the ability to hit notes in the the fifth octave in a belting style. However this came at the expense of the voice's buttery and moist tone, sounding pulled and more colourless as the placement shifted to the nasal cavity [The One I Gave My Heart To].

The head voice was accessed easily by the singer [Let Me Know (At Your Best)] and it had a beautifully lush ring to it. She often used it, flipping quickly and dextrously to it mid-phrase and from other parts of the range, for artistic effect [I Care For You]. Here the voice shared the sweet and slight airiness of the mid-range, with the tone produced being somewhat akin to that of a cross between a falsetto and a head tone- having the timbre of a falsetto but with the increased dynamic control found in the head voice. Her ability to sing melisma in this part of the range only served to highlight the freedom and ease she had here.

Due to the airy and gentle quality found throughout the voice it lent itself to being layered, creating luxurious and humid harmonies. Not only did it stack beautifully with itself, creating a sound that didn't become heavy or cumbersome [Rock The Boat], but it worked well with other voices too [Are You That Somebody ].

A soft voice that possessed unique and usual power, it has yet to be replicated.

Vocal Negatives: Her belting range was at odds with the rest of the voice, though improvements could be heard when comparing the change in sound, strength and placement that occurred in the rerecording of The One I gave My Heart To [Original/ Rerecord].


  1. A true talent. Never gets the recognition vocally that she deserves. Her acapella intro to "At Your Best" is like honey!

  2. One of my favourite AAliyah songs, without a doubt. Here is the link if other's haven't heard it

  3. I luv aaliyah my wife

  4. If you listen closely to Aaliyahs song,"The One I Gave My Hear To", you can hear her whistle notes towards the middle and end..

  5. I know she's labeled as a mezzo here, but she always struck me as a soprano. Her voice was slightly thinner and higher timbred but sweet and light with a tendency to become shrill at times. She developed her lower register quite well, giving her excellent balance between her voice's different areas.

  6. She's a soprano... She lives in her head voice... That screams soprano to me.

  7. Aaliyah was definitely a soprano, couldn't agree any less. a mezzo-soprano would be Whitney's voice....wonder why i hardly listened to brandy and Monica. Aaliyah had that melody in the voice that only real singers have eg mariah carey.

  8. I Agree Also She is Always Hitting Her High notes just right.

  9. Soprano has nothing to do with how you sound. Mezzo are between soprano, and alto. a pure soprano would be more like Debelah morgan, or even Loretta Divine. Saying Aaliyah is a pure soprano is like saying you can only hit whistle notes if you are a soprano.

  10. Watch your definition of "alto". That is a very broad term. In fact, I'd recommend not bringing choral terms together with operatic terms. A mezzo-soprano in pop may sound drastically different than in opera. Some mezzos can go down deep into the second octave in pop (giving the illusion of a contralto) but be reduced to the 3rd octave in operatic music all because of the objective of projection. That is what a lot of people get mixed up and start to blur the lines between choral. Music, operatic music, and pop.

    In choral music an "alto" would be a mezzo-soprano or contralto and they would sing between E3 to F5 (modal is my only inclusion) where a soprano would sing between A#3 to B5.

    In choral music, there is often an lack of tenors so they will have high baritones, contraltos, and low mezzos fill the roll. If you look at it that way, I hope I'm clear.

    But a soprano and mezzo-soprano are two different classes all together. The mezzo group is utterly huge.

  11. I would say she's a mezzo-soprano. She did live in her head voice but she could reach lows that could rival real contraltos like Brandy and Toni Braxton.

  12. Very pretty voice. And she was so young. Vocally she'd be in her prime right now at age 34. I bet she'd sound amazing.

  13. Aaliyah's voice was so smooth and silky. Especially the high notes and whistle melodies...Magnificent !!! I wonder how many of her unreleased songs did she experiment with her vocal range.

  14. i was thinking the same thing for years

  15. Terrible singer. Awesome performer.

  16. She's a Lyric Mezzo. She's no Soprano.

  17. WEMissUBabygirl29 May 2014 at 02:30

    Aaliyah was an Mezzo-Soprano. Check out this live VERSION. She sounded far from shrill here.

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