Mariah Carey – The Queen Of Vocal Range

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Vocal Features

Vocal Type: Lirico Coloratura Soprano

Vocal Range (live/studio): 5 Octaves & 3 Notes (F#2-Bb7/F2-B7)

Prime’s Era Live: Bb2-Bb7

Tessitura: F#3-C6

Supported range : C#3-F#5-D6-Eb7 (4 quãng 8 2 note)

Kĩ Thuật
(Prime Era)
Cảm Xúc

Note live thấp nhất: F#2 trong ca khúc You and I

Note live cao nhất: Bb7 trong ca khúc Emotions

Widest live vocal range: Emotions - Bb2-A7 (xấp xỉ 5 quãng 8)

Longest note: 16 seconds

Vocal Pluses

  •  Mariah Carey’s first advantage to be mentioned is that she owns a natural gorgeous voice. Despite being a coloratura soprano (developed from ligh lirico soprano), Mariah’s voice is a combination between water and wood instead of metal like other sopranos. 
  • The wooden timbre makes Mariah’s voice become warm and soft at low and middle range that sounded like sweet whisperings. This is also what makes Mariah able to sing airy voice sweetly and lightly like a smoke that became her signature.
  • Meanwhile, the water in her voice makes it sound smooth, velvety and fluently like a streaming flow. Though Mariah can sing with her mixed voice and whistle register at very high notes, her voice never gets sharp.
  • Mariah’s singing voice in her heydays was gorgeous, full, bright, powerful and resonant even at high notes, yet never got tough, rough or cold. Mariah’s voice is not too bright (lack of metal type) but everything in it is just enough to sound the most comfortable.
  • Not only her voice is gorgeous, Mariah’s voice is quite special as well. She has an extra wide range that goes through the piano. In that extremely wide range, Mariah tends to sing with consistent, connection and sing the songs charmingly without desultory, the lack of control or strain to reach the note like some other singers.
  • Her timbre changes at different ranges: warm and dark at low range, husky and full at middle range and dramatic at high range. This added colours to her voice.

 It is remarkable that Mariah Carey has been able to sing low range since she was 5 while trying to copy her mother’s piano, which is just amazing. Despite being a bright soprano, she was surprisingly able to sing low notes with high intensity (Eb3-B2).

  • Until 1996, Maria was able to easily melisma the notes F#3-Bb2.
  • For another thing, the natural strength and the mastering skills are what make Mariah able to support her voice in an extremely wide range, from chest, mixed to head voice, whistle. There are rarely any singer that can have a supported range at 4-4.2 octaves that goes from extra low notes to extra high notes.
  • In Daydream era, Mariah showed her well-supported, well-controlled C#3-Eb7, with flexible melisma, staccato, glissando, trillo, passagio…
  • Mariah can legato on very high and complex ranges. She tends to legato from chest voice to whistle in a short time, no hesitance and softly with a light timbre and quick vibrato like a birdsong.

Moreover, Mariah can do well at complex vocal runs.

For instance, the light, deep dark airy voice turned into the 7th octave whistles was show-cased in nearly 1 minute.

The florid skills are gently showed-off with fluency and complete harmony.

 Her head voice didn’t got enough attention due to her other excellent techniques, but in fact, her head voice is an envy among singers.

 While loosing her voice, Mariah can still easily sustain C#6 and D6 with head voice for 10-12 secs goes from many dynamics, from forte to pianissimo and al-niente.(2:22)

  • Her "true" voice’s tessitura goes from Eb3-F#5 with full supportive and her breakthrough singing style is what makes her able to sing extremely hard songs, requires a mastering vocal with the vocal range of average 3 octives and above like If It’s over (D3-F#5-A6), Vanishing (D3-F#5-Bb6), Don’t making love anymore (F#3-Bb6), I wanna know what love is (G3-F5-Eb7).

Even from her debuting years, Mariah was able to show-case nearly 4 octaves in Vision Of Love (Eb3-F5-C7).

  • Mariah never shows off too much high belted notes, but it’s hard to find any singer that is able to sing Bb4-F#5 with their belting voice like Mariah in Daydream era.
  • Mariah choose herself her own resonant placement from her philtrum to the scauff of her neck, creates light, relaxing belting notes without being too powerful but soft and flowy like the sound of an angel. 
  • This belting is hard to execute because the vocalist is not allowed to use their strength at high notes (as normally the high notes are resonated well with the singer’s full power) yet does include the resonance and succession. Moreover, it is also well-handled that even an E5 of her is hard to cover. For example, in Hero:
  •  Or in I’ll be there, she stressed 3 times at super open F5s that is bright and resonant like the bell rings, yet soft and smooth. Most singers who cover this song are only manage to hit F5, even with correct skills, it is hard to create the sound like Mariah.
  • Mariah’s D5 in the above live video is special at it’s resonant, powerful yet spongy, soft and flowy.
  • Or in the Grammy live If it’s over, she sang the hanging range fluently with striking vocal stamina. It was the correct placement, relaxed larynx and balanced, connected head voice and mixed voice that helped her slide from low range to C#5 smoothly and projected to D5, Eb5 and E5 resonantly and brightly. Moreover, she stressed F#5 with fluency without being worn-out, without the lack of resonance, being strain or hoarseness. The most impressive project is when she projected F#5 3 times in "you've got to say the words tonight".
  • Despite being a light coloratura soprano, Mariah can still belt charming middle range.
  • The singing style that changes with her tendency of switching voice that is close to the classic style “powerful at first, light at last” makes Mariah Carey able to do subtle vocallines while belting high notes and lighten her voice until fading out.
  • Her florid techniques are very skillful and subtle. She can trillo on her singing voice with high speed.

0:40 : Mariah riffs note

0:14 : Mariah trills B6/Bb6 with an incredible speed

Or, glissando like riding waves.

  • Moreover, the florid techniques are usually used on whistles. It it totally possible to consider Mariah as one in the 3 master of whistling in pop music with a wide influence in popilarizing this technique in pop music and inspire singers.
  • Staccato on whistle (from 3:40)

 24 whistle notest divided into 4 groups: E7-E7-Bb6-C#7 E7-E7-Bb6-C#7-E7-E7-Bb6-C#7-E7-E7-Bb6-C#7-E7-E7-Bb6-C#7-E7-E7-Bb6-C#7-E7-E7-Bb6-C#7-E7-E7-Bb6-C#7-E7-E7-Bb6-C#7-E7-E7-Bb6-C#7-E7-E7-Bb6-C#7-E7-E7-Bb6-C#7


  • From vocal runs to whistle (3:55)
  • Vocal runs and fortissimo combinated on whistle (từ 2:56)
  • Running and skipping notes with high speed on whistle (từ 1:19)
  • Staccato runs with high speed on whistle (from 2:44)
  • Melisma - one of the R&B classic technique that Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston brought to pop music in the 90s - is nearly the first thing comes to mind when talking about her, as it represents the colours in her voice.
  • Ever since Vision of love was published and rank 1st on Billboard hot 100, it brang a new life to the music industry with a fantasy and attractive way of singing - melisma (the singing way in which the vocalist closes the syllables, vibratos and ligate in 1 breathe, mostly from high notes to lower ranges). Check this out in the below recording:

3:02 - 3:04 : Melisma.

  • In addition, there are some parts with the vocal runs and very little of melisma in this song, like the "I had the vision of love" part when she sang it at high range 2 times, once were vocal runs, once were melisma just like in opera’s note cutting.
  • Mariah is also a master in vocal runs (the technique that is mixed between staccato and vibrato bun there’s mostly only 2 notes in the run). The most typical example is the vocal run and melisma in the length of 11 seconds in the performance of Vision of love (1990) (from 2:46) :

 Or her vocal runs to change the regular range into whistle with melisma in 6 seconds in the performance of Vanishing (1990) (from 3:30) :

  • Her soft lirico voice even makes Mariah able to sing light and slim head voice, creates an illusion that she was singing with her whistle register. Check this out in the performance of I still believe (from 3:04).
  • Mariah’s strong point is the way of singing airy voice that is hard to copy, makes her able to create the signature of sweet melodies. Mariah can ligature freely with her airy voice and fluently switch her voice from airy to low-chest and low-head, then mixed voice with high frequency. Her placement moves without stopping.
  • Mariah is also successful in yodeling on falsetto (the way of singing that switches from low to high vocal, frequent ligature, creates melodious sounds in a short period of time), make the sweet and sexy her own specific in singing that no one can copy. Mostly all of her songs in and after Daydream album completely exploits yodeling.
  • Mariah is also successful in yodeling on falsetto (the way of singing that switches from low to high vocal, frequent ligature, creates melodious sounds in a short period of time), make the sweet and sexy her own specific in singing that no one can copy. Mostly all of her songs in and after Daydream album completely exploits yodeling.
  • Not only warm and airy, Mariah’s falsetto is also bright and slender at high notes and can be sustained for long time.
  • Mariah’s vibrato is subtle and charming, she tends to keep a belt note before using a vibrato to “stoke” or fashionably fade it out.
  • Despite not being a formidable dynamic, Mariah can still growl with her inner-force and can even once use it to put down another singer’s voice.
  • This video below is probably the one shows off Mariah Carey’s voice to the fullest.

Vocal Disadvantages

  • Mariah’s biggest disadvantage is her larynx bubo. She didn’t choose to do surgery and live with it as she was afraid of loosing her voice. The bubo made her have to try harder in singing, that lead both her and her larynx to wear out.
  • Just like Whitney, Mariah does not have a healthy lifestyle, usually uses alcohol and smoke, and the huge career or living efforts quickly destroyed her voice.
  • Mariah is thought to have used too much falsetto in singing that the vocal cords does not close any more and make her loose her voice.
  • Mariah’s vocal stamina is not as good as other singers, but she tends to sing hard songs with high dinamic and wide range, hence her larynx is even more damaged.
  • At debut years, Mariah is sometimes nasal and chesty that leads to strain and narrowed voice.
  • After, while loosing her voice, she usually raises her larynx.
  • Mariah sometimes lower her larynx at low register that leads to the lack of support.
  • Mariah is sometimes believed to have misused her whistle that makes the song looses the emotion.
Mình là Thảo Phương, một cô gái với âm nhạc là nguồn sống ^^. Mình đã từng được vào vòng đối đầu của The Voice và hiện giờ vẫn đang trên con đường làm ca sĩ :).

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