Whats the record for the longest vocal note?

Hi! I'm 15 and I held a vocal note for 16 seconds today. Is that a long time? I'm sure i can hold a note for 20 seconds. So my question is whats the record for the longest vocal note?

1 Answer

  • 6 years ago
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    I'm afraid you have a long, long way to go for a record. The most reliable source would be the Guinness World Records, but the site seems to be down at the moment. I was able to find out that as of November 8, 2009 the record was one minute, 43 seconds held by Richard Fink of the United States. It probably has been broken since.

    I also don't know if Mr. Fink held the note as part of an actual song, or if he sang an isolated note--that is he just picked a comfortable pitch and held it as long as possible. That's still pretty neat--but here are some examples of long notes held during an actual song.

    This is soprano Beverly Sills. From around 2:34 to 2:57, she holds a note for 23 seconds, with enough breath left towards the end to actually crescendo (get louder). She literally takes a second to take a breath and launches into another long note.


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    Here is a live performance by mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato in the same role--also holding the note for around the 23 seconds from 5:44 to 6:05. This comes in Scene 3 of Act II, toward the end of the opera. The scene also is very emotional.


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    This is why it takes so many years for opera singers to learn their craft.

    This is a clip from "A Star is Born"--the song is "Evergreen". The radio release (that just had Barbra Streisand on it) featured a very long note at the end. At it's that way in the sheet music too (I have it, and it took me a while to figure out how to manage my breath to make it to the end). I never actually saw the movie, but I notice that although you can hear that sustained note for at least twenty seconds (2:36 to 2:56), editing may have something to do with it since you can still hear the note even after the singer closes her mouth briefly to kiss her co-star.


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    In live performances, the length of the note varies a lot. In the 1977 Academy Award live performance (the song was up for best song--which it won), Streisand holds the note for about 10 seconds. At even more recent performances (if you want to look for them), she doesn't even TRY. She doesn't even stay on the same note. She kind of embellishes at the end which actually gives her plenty of opportunities to take several breaths.

    My point is, that it's harder to hold notes during an actual performance when nerves, excitement, fatigue come into play, as well as the need for dynamic control. You also might see how long you go without taking a breath when singing a long phrase or sentence. That can be tricky to do as well.

    Check the Guinness website in a day or so and see if it's working. Find out what the current record is and the details of how the record was established and verified.

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