The highest pitch range of female voice, which generally begins at Middle C and extends upward at least one octave (to High C) and beyond, depending upon the abilities of the individual. As with almost all music performed before the 16th century, women were prohibited from performing, so boys sang soprano parts. As opera became popular in the 17th century, female sopranos became the featured singers and, along with the male tenors, were their era’s equivalent of pop stars.
The term “soprano” also identifies musical instruments that have ranges similar to the soprano voice. The best-known example is the soprano saxophone. The commonly recognized clarinet is actually a soprano clarinet; it has alto and bass versions.