Vocal Type: Middle-weight contralto
Vocal Range: 2 Octaves 3 notes (D3-G5)
Whistle Register: No
Vocal Pluses:A fantastically identifiable voice – best known for her roles at MGM Studios, but also for her extensive back-catalogue; the entire voice has a warm, rich, incredibly velvety quality.
The low notes, encompassing a D3 [Old Man River] have a darkness that pervades much of the voice, and as most contraltos tend to, this part of the voice seems incredibly easy for Judy to hit both from the beginning of her career [F3 in Over the Rainbow original] until the end.
The middle range, starting at about B3 and up until Ab4, had that same richness, only now with more variations for volume than the lower range offered. Her voice sat incredibly easily in this part of the voice, and didn’t show any signs of fatigue even into her later years [Judy and Liza at the Palladium].
The high range, when executed using a ‘belting’ technique as she did through most of her later career, had an incredible capacity for power and dramatic highs, though they generally had to be built up to in the later section of a song. The belting range could be taken up to D5 [Get Happy], and the same rich and full tone that the rest of the voice had stands true in the high range, even moreso than the middle. She also showed in her earlier years that she could mix her voice brilliantly [White Christmas, Where There’s Music), thereby getting a sweeter, less overpowering sound, which she used in later years as well, though less frequently. When Judy decided to use head voice, though rarely displayed, it still shone with surprising brilliance and ease [Opera Spoof], encompassing at least G5 if not higher. The head voice lost no tone or warmth, taking on a nearly operatic quality that was incredibly full and bright.
Overall, though she is renowned for being an emotive singer, her technique was quite brilliant, and that she could even sing by the late 60s given her use of drugs and alcohol is quite amazing.
Vocal Negatives: The voice in later years began to lose some of the ease that her younger self had, though this is due in part to ageing, drug/alcohol abuse, and a natural lowering of the voice after her 20s. Some found her style of singing to be too abrasive and blaring, though this is entirely a personal taste.
Thanks so much to Marty M for putting this together!!
*I'll add some audio clips at some point, but here is a documentary about the singer for now: