||It has been suggested that Oktavist be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since June 2013.|
While the New Grove Dictionary of Opera defines a typical bass as having a range that is limited to the second E below middle C (E2), operatic basso profondos can be called on to sing low C (Baron Ochs). Often in non-solo context, choral composers make use of lower notes (G1 or even F1), and these specialist basso profondos are usually called octavists, a singer of this voice type sings a full octave below the first-bass register. Octavists are especially typical of Russian Orthodox vocal music. Because the male voice usually takes a very long time to develop and grow, especially in the lower range, low notes sound resonant and full, when the singer is around 40 or even 50 years of age, this part is often reserved to older men.
According to the Italian definition, any singer with an Eb2 in fortissimo is a basso profondo. Italian composers considered basso profondos as basses with a large voice, which can descend slightly lower than the usual bass singers with a range of E2-E4. The essential part being the large sonorous voice and not the lower register. Parts for Slavic basso profondos have included notes as low as G1 (e.g. Measure 76 of Ne otverzhi mene by Pavel Chesnokov) or F below that in Kheruvimskaya pesn (Song of Cherubim) by Krzysztof Penderecki. However most basso profondos have trouble reaching those notes, and the use of them in works by Slavic composers has led to the colloquial term "Russian bass" for an exceptionally deep-ranged basso profondo, called oktavist, who can easily sing these notes. Some Russian religious music calls for A2 (110 Hz) like in "We Praise Thee" (Tebe poyom), which is doubled by A1 (55 Hz) in the rare occasion that a choir includes exceptionally gifted basso profondos who can produce this very low human voice pitch.
Hence Russian composers often make no distinction between a basso profondo and an oktavist or "contrabass" a singer who sings a full octave below the normal bass part. Pavel Chesnokov divides the bass section into these groups:
- baritones ;
- light basses ;
- strong basses ;
- strong basses with a good low register;
- oktavists with medium range, power and a soft sound; and
- strong and deep oktavists.
So it makes sense to put most basses who fall in between E2 and C2 in the third and fourth groups, depending on their power. Groups 4 and 5 are considered Basso profondos, leaving group 6 as the proper oktavists, who are extremely rare and especially typical of Russian Orthodox vocal music.
A further definition of the basso profondo range, in the eyes of Jean Jacques Rousseau, who, on page 66 of his Dictionnaire de musique (1768), states:
—Jean Jacques Rousseau, Dictionnaire de musique, Basse-Contres ~ les plus graves de toutes les Voix, qui chantent la Basse sous la Basse même, & qu'il ne faut pas confondre avec les Contre-basses, qui sont des Instruments
Prominent basso profondos
Prominent operatic basso profondos
- Don Giacinto Zucchi, the first Seneca in L'incoronazione di Poppea (1643)
- Johann Ignaz Ludwig Fischer (1745–1825), the first Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail
- Feodor Ivanovich Chaliapin (1873 – 1938)
- Maxim Mikhailov (1893 –1971)
- Martti Talvela (1935-1989)
- Kurt Moll (born 1938)
- Matti Salminen (born 1945)
- Kurt Rydl (born 1947)
- Andrea Silvestrelli
- Pompeiu Hărăşteanu
Low bass singers in other genres
- J.D. Sumner
- George Younce
- Richard Sterban
- Larry Hooper
- Tim Storms
- Thurl Ravenscroft, most notably in animations
|Look up basso profondo in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Owen Jander, Lionel Sawkins, J.B. Steane, Elizabeth Forbes (ed L Macy). "Bass". Grove Music Online. Archived from the original on 13 June 2006. Retrieved 14 June 2006.; The Oxford Dictionary of Music gives E2–e4/f4
- Croan, Robert (7 October 2010). "The basses of 'the Barber'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
- Internet Archivie: Rousseau, Dictionnaire de musique