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The range or ambitus is the range between the highest and lowest notes of an instrument or voice. This refers to:

  • in the case of musical instruments and the singing voice of a particular singer, on the area that can be played or sung (see also pitch ). Musical instruments have very different tone ranges, from a single tone on the triangle to the entire audible spectrum on the organ . More information can be found in the articles for the respective instrument.
  • in the case of a musical line, a passage or an entire piece of music, on the area that appears in it. In this case the ambitus is also called the frame interval .


Bassoon range

The pitch range of voices and instruments is usually displayed in such a way that the lowest and highest notes are given. The large noteheads show the usual range. The expanded pitch that a virtuoso soloist can master is marked by smaller cue notes . The example on the left shows the normal range of a bassoon from the double-B to the e "and the pitch range that a virtuoso player can master, from the double-A to the a flat".


In the case of stringed instruments (example on the right), the empty strings are first specified in the usual tuning. The lowest string (here the small g) is also the lowest possible note of the instrument. To the right of this is the highest note in normal fingering (here: h '' ''). The square, empty notehead on the outside describes the highest harmonics  (d '' '' ').

However, the information is only a guide. Under special circumstances ( scordatura , additional flaps , unusual techniques), larger volumes can also be achieved.

With transposing instruments , a distinction must be made between the notated and the actual pitch range. For example, the notated range of a clarinet usually begins with an e, but on a Bb clarinet it sounds as a d, depending on the transposition of the instrument.

See also