Talk:Bass (voice type)

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Ivan Rebroff[edit]

Someone is consistently removing Ivan Rebroff from the list of notable bass singers. Why? If a person who is mentioned in the Guinness book of records is not notable then I don't know who is. And if this is not a superb bass vocal range, then I don't know what is: http://youtube.com/watch?v=a6DOUB3O35E 85.194.211.152 (talk) 17:08, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

I think the issue here is that the article on Ivan Rebroff does not list any third party sources and frankly needs quite a lot of work. If that article were improved considerably than it wouldn't be a bad person to include on the list.Nrswanson (talk) 09:30, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
In my opinion, a person's biography should not need 3rd party sources for that person to be notable. It is important for that biography to include such sources, and the page itself needs significant work, so that should be on the to-do list. But, it seems that the singer and his work are prominent enough to be in the notable section - but admitedly I know little about opera singers and am not a good judge of this.Chris45215 (talk) 12:39, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

Bass-baritones a "bass type"?[edit]

I believe a subsection should be added to the "types of bass voices" discussing bass-baritones. A great deal of so-called "bass" repertoire falls to these fellows (Don Giovanni, Figaro, Il Conte--maybe Leporello--just to name a few), and in my experience they are just as often considered as basses as they are baritones. 69.178.122.114 09:48, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

Pop musicians with a bass voice[edit]

Please add examples of pop musicians with a bass voice, if there are any. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.48.184.50 (talk) 13:28, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

I had suggested adding Thurl Ravenscroft to the list, but the powers-that-be removed him; we'll be hearing him on the radio any day now singing You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch. Other suggestions might be (and they are a strech):
Bill Medley, although I would think that most consider him a baritone.
Ed Ames, the "Boston Baritone," but a very deep one.
Frank Sinatra, although I would think that most consider him a baritone.
Bing Crosby. Over his career, his voiced dropped. Near the end, his usual range was from F2 to F3, and was particularly noted for good Eb2's. Weyandt (talk) 18:40, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
Johnny Cash -- He goes down to E2 in Folsom Prison Blues, San Quentin, I've Been Everywhere, and several other tunes.
Junior Brown -- He goes down to E2 in My Wife Thinks You're Dead. -- Weyandt (talk) 20:33, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
Stephin Merritt of the The Magnetic Fields — Preceding unsigned comment added by 47.16.74.165 (talk) 13:00, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
I'm ashamed of myself! How could I forget
Barry White. I don't think that anyone would consider him anything other than a bass. Weyandt (talk) 18:40, 14 December 2007 (UTC)


Cab Calloway Cab had a wonderful range extending down to a solid C2 and sometimes even lower. Although the exact pitch was not always easily discernable, I know he got down to Bb and even A1 on good nights. I'm a double bassist who played his show many times and witnessed his vocal skills which remained remarkable into his 80s —Preceding unsigned comment added by Roberto1014 (talkcontribs) 16:03, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
Peter Steele. Lead singer of Type O Negative. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.60.77.248 (talk) 01:40, 31 July 2008 (UTC)
Isaac Hayes. The voice of "Chef" in South Park. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 220.245.191.46 (talk) 17:58, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Paul Robeson. The link for his voice type points to the Bass (voice type) page. Should definitely be here! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ldavis2 (talkcontribs) 00:18, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
Josh Turner. Country music singer. Sample of low notes from some of his songs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2ssM_svsAM —Preceding unsigned comment added by 99.163.50.106 (talk) 10:10, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

Another one who is well worth mentioning is Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. If you listen to enough of his recordings, you'll find that he does some very low spoken bits in songs, often around C2 or B1, but sometimes trailing down as low as G1, and even F♯1 once (at the end of a cover of "As Time Goes By")! I would more call him a bass-baritone than a pure bass, though, because he has a pretty extensive high range as well. If you listen to the song "Bad Girl", the entire melody is sung at C5, and at one point he does a scream up to F5! Most of his singing is usually done around the lower fourth octave or upper third octave anyway, so that's why I classify him as more of a low baritone.

--Rock Soldier (talk) 17:26, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

high g?[edit]

I removed the sentence:

It is necessary to sing a "G" above middle "C" to be able to sing most bass repertoire.

The preceding claim that high singing requires more breath depends on one's technique, I guess! Sparafucil 08:41, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Where exactly needs a bass-singer to sing a high g? I know some roles that requires a high f (Figaro, Osmin, Boris Godunov, ect). In Rimsky-Korsakov's version Boris requires even a high g-flat, but Rimsky considered it a baritone-role. When Verdi, for example, asks for a high g he calls for a baritone. Wagner demands a high g from Wotan, but he's a bass-baritone and not a real bass. AdamChapman 12:01, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. Mahler's Resurrection Symphony requires Bb1 to G4, but that is exceptional. Even most British composers don't expect above F4 out of basses. 71.79.110.56 22:20, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

Mustafa in L'Italiana in Algeri sings a G4 at least 4 times in the second act. Although "most bass repertoire" is a bit of a stretch.69.178.122.114 09:41, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

And almost always in falsetto! Another g' never (or?) sung as written is Hagen's shout as he kills Sigrfried. Basses will often interpolate a g' when they feel lucky or in good voice, i.e. the end of La calunia in C major. Sparafucil (talk) 05:08, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

Hagen in Gotterdamerung sings a High G at one point, I found when looking at the score. I'm not sure if he's really a basso profundo. I'm almost done looking through and I can't find him going anywhere below a low F, and that's only at one point. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.152.162.205 (talk) 16:47, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Bass roles in opera[edit]

Am I the only one who thinks that the title-role in Boris Godunov, Ivan Khovansky and Dosifey from Khovanshchina, and other major bass-roles should be included? With all the respect to Banquo and the Grand Inquisitor, these are minor roles.

Merger of Bass baritone article into Bass (vocal range)[edit]

According to most vocal pedagogy books, the bass baritone voice is a sub-type of the bass voice. For this reason, I believe this topic should be discussed here. This is also in keeping with the vocal categorization in the German Fach system and with the common practice of hiring Bass-baritone singers to sing Bass repetoir by opera companies.Nrswanson (talk) 09:40, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

By all means, discuss bass types here in the article, then we can decide whether to merge. At present it seems to me that Bass-baritone has enough material to stand on its own, though. Sparafucil (talk) 01:01, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
This would, IMO, be rushing in where angels fear to tread. Bass-Baritone covers quite a lot of ground between bass and baritone, a lot of it rather murky. eg would you be comfortable making the call of whether Bryn Terfel is a Bass or a Baritone? wouldn't a fair amount of lyrical music traditionally sung by a bass-baritone suit a pure baritone more than a pure bass? And so on. The Fach system is good for German repetoire, but not necessarily elsewhere. In any case, there's enough lack of consensus over what a bass-baritone is that WP would have trouble finding the NPOV to support the merge almost-instinct 11:24, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
Actually I disagree with you there, I have never seen Bass-baritone not viewed as a sub-type of bass and I think you would find it difficult to find resources to prove otherwise.Nrswanson (talk) 16:30, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
No I'm not disagreeing with you: I agree with you that in terms of where the passaggio lies they're basses. But the characteristics of the music they sing are often baritonal. So: do we scrap the bass-baritone article because lots of them go into head voice on a Eb, or do we admit that for 99.99% of the people who use this encyclopedia this just isn't relevant? There's nothing to stop the bass article claiming bass-baritones as one of their own, and no reason why the baritone article shoudn't point this out, but that doesn't mean that as a concept the bass-bartione isn't worthy of its own page especially when you start looking at which singer sings what. eg bass-baritones singing Verdi/Puccini/Donizetti baritone roles, ageing baritones singing Wotan. Wolfram ("baritone") is often sung by those who later in life will sing Wotan ("bass"). What fach are the Songs of Travel? The classification would be a. endless b. pointless. By the way, talking of resources proving anything in this issue is a red herring: the printed, citeable texts books take the purist line, but the pragmatic line is taken by people less likely to write these things down. For example, try having a chat with an agent on this topic. almost-instinct 19:35, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
PS Escamillo, Don Alfonso, ... even Rossini's Barber was written for a buffo almost-instinct 19:38, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
If you really think it is necessary to keep this page then you can but I will then be duplicating most of the material here on the bass article.Nrswanson (talk) 19:43, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

Questions on the number of bass types and suggestions for restructuring[edit]

In researching the bass voice types I have found that this article is essentially an odd attempt to recreate the German fach system and Italian classification system without truly integrating the two. As a result, there are many more voice types than should be on this page as the two systems overlap. In the Italian tradition, basses are typically divided into only two groupings: Lyric Bass (Basso Cantabile) and Dramatic Bass (Basso Profundo). The Bass-Baritone voice was "discovered" by Wagner and did not really become a part of the Italian system until the 20th century. Further distinctions just simply were not made. "Buffo roles" (role type more than an actual voice type) can be played by either but more often played by Basso Profundo singers. The German Fach system, however, has many more sub-divisions that don't necessarily coincide with the Italian systems distinctions. One error on this page seems to be the terms "Lyric Basso Profundo" and "Dramatic Basso Profundo" which would not be in keeping with either system. A lyric bass is a basso cantabile in the Italian tradition and not a basso profundo which is a dramatic voice. So the distinction here between lyric and dramatic is just incorrect. It appears that the author of that section was trying to draw an exact parallel with the German fach term "Seriöser Bass" (which does have lyric and dramatic distinctions)where no such parallel exists. They are different terms with different meanings, albite with some overlapping roles. Here is a more accurate chart (although nothing will ever perfectly align) of how the systems line up.

Basso Cantabile (lyric bass): Encompasses lyric bass-baritone, most Jugendlicher Bass roles, and Lyric Seriöser Bass. Some buffo roles may also be included but Italians tend to cast Basso Profundo singers in these roles more frequently even in those designated as "Spielbass" in the fach system.

Basso Profundo (dramatic bass): Encompasses dramatic bass-baritone, Schwerer Spielbass and also Spielbass, Dramatic Basso Profundo, and Dramatic Seriöser Bass.

In my opinion, there is really no point in recreating the fach system here as there is already an article on that system. There is also little point in only using the Italian system as it doesn't adequately cover the bass-baritone repetoire. My suggestion for this page would be to divide the bass parts into five groupings (which is typical in British/American vocal pedagogical circles): lyric bass, dramatic bass, lyric bass-baritone, dramatic bass-baritone and buffo roles noting that the lists are a synthesis of various vocal classification traditions.Nrswanson (talk) 04:39, 31 May 2008 (UTC)

IMO it is be no problem that "this article is essentially an odd attempt to recreate the German fach system and Italian classification system without truly integrating the two". Why should we attempt a synthesis? American pedagogic attempts to acheive this are certainly notable in themselves, but we shouldn't feel our actions to be prescripted by them, nor should attempts to draw attention to two different schools be proscripted by them almost-instinct 11:41, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
Because without doing so the information now presented is inaccurate and misleading. It is also redundant as there are articles already on the fach system and it is also not in keeping with the other voice type articles where such a synthesis has been made.Nrswanson (talk) 18:04, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
I don't see that the current reading of this page—and I'm not defending the state that it's in at the moment—makes an argument that either the German or Italian schools of singing need to be bent either to one another or two towards some kind of fusion. Since the bulk of the standard repetoire has been written either (a) by Italian composers setting Italian words for Italian singers or (b) by German composers etc wouldn't it be more useful and NPOV to say:
  1. in the Italian school there's this way of looking at basses
  2. in the German school there's this different way
  3. subsequently the American synthesis reconciles them thus
  4. PS in France... almost-instinct 23:15, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
That sounds fine. As long as the inaccurate descriptions currently on the page are changed. I'll try to work something out in my sandbox and then move it here.Nrswanson (talk) 06:32, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

Problems[edit]

The problem I have with the erudite article of 16 June in this section, is the Five suggested classes of Bass are not defined by range. If a range is G above Middle C to the G three octaves down as (e.g. Measure 76 of "Ne otverzhi mene" by Pavel Chesnokov)and if the Tessitura is from E above middle C to the C two octaves down from Middle C,this would, by "Quality", probably be a "Dramatic Bass" by this classification, a "Shwartze Bass" by other definitions or "Basso Profundo" by yet another; so it appears to get very complex. However I am much more comfortable with the definition currently posted on Wikipedia. Will Almost-instinct 17 June 2008 please elaborate if Wikipedia's current definition is contested. (LCF)

Paragraph contradicts itself[edit]

"Parts for basses have included notes as low as the B-flat two octaves and a tone below middle C, for example in the Rachmaninov Vespers, and the G below that (e.g. Measure 76 of Ne otverzhi mene by Pavel Chesnokov). Many basses 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 who can easily sing these notes. Some traditional Russian religious music calls for A2 (110 Hz) drone singing, which is doubled by A1 (55 Hz) in the rare occasion that a choir includes exceptionally gifted singers who can produce this very lowest of human voice pitches."

Two octaves and a tone below middle C would be B-flat 1. It says makes a mention of the use of the G below that, which would be G1, but later says that A1 is the lowest of human voice pitches. How is this possible?

--Rock Soldier (talk) 05:58, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

It's possible if many different people have edited the same paragraph! This section ought to clearly distinguish solo operatic writing from choral use of the bass, which at the low end can involve different techniques such as vocal fry. Youtube has a compilation of extreme lows which probably passes the fair use test. Sparafucil (talk) 22:47, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, I've gotten familiar with those videos and now am well aware that A1 is not, in fact, the lowest note that a human being can possibly reach (I, myself, may have gone lower than it on one occasion, if not I know for certain that I at least reached it), so I removed the part of the article that was saying that. Now it's no longer contradictory, it just emphasizes how difficult and rare it is to sing a G1 in full voice.
--Rock Soldier (talk) 17:14, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

standardization of syntax describing ranges needed[edit]

The articles on vocal ranges need a standardized way to state the ranges. For example, I recently changed the early paragraph in this article from "F below great C" to "F two octaves below middle C". I do not know of another article on vocal range that uses the terminology system that includes "great C" (and, despite being a musician, had never heard of it myself). The differing terminologies seems to have led to great confusion, even among editors, as the article for baritone describes the range as descending to "the second F below middle C", which is the exact same note that the bass range should descend to.

I suggest that the description for range should be along the lines of "(note) (#) of octaves (above/below) middle C". In this case, it would read "F two octaves below middle C", with the similar description for the note at the top of the range. The scientific pitch notation would follow this description, as it is the simplest and clearest way to express the range.Chris45215 (talk) 12:27, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

Isnt F below great C contra F? Great F and F2 both describe the note a twelfth below middle c. Either convention should be linked at its first appearance in an article to avoid edit wars on what "F2" actually means. Sparafucil (talk) 07:55, 27 February 2009 (UTC)

Section on basses in pop music?[edit]

I wonder if it might be wise to add a section on basses in pop music -- as it stands, although there seems to be some curiosity about basses in genres other than opera, you've got to go to the talk page to find anything out. Even just a sampling to give an idea of "this is what a bass sounds like" would be nice. To the ones mentioned already I'd add Tom Waits and Layne Staley (Alice in Chains -- in "Man in the Box" he hits what I'm pretty sure is an Eb2). How do we feel about some section acknowledging that the bass is not merely an operatic designation?Pstinchcombe (talk) 00:47, 27 February 2009 (UTC)

Wait-isn't it second E below Middle C as the stop point of bass range, NOT the F two octaves below Middle C? I thought that the second F was more for baritones. Can someone help with this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.39.74.44 (talk) 15:28, 25 March 2009 (UTC)

It's hard to name a specific "stop point." Alot of bass music doesn't go below an E or an F. Some basses can go down to a C below the bass clef. And then there are the basses in Russian choral music, who go lower than that (usually to around a Bb). It's hard to really pin-point the bass range.

Gilbert & Sullivan Roles Section: Redundant and Contradictory[edit]

Okay, in addition to the traditional bass opera roles, there is also a section on Gilbert & Sullivan roles. All fine and dandy, but it lists, and I quote:

"Don Alhambra (Bass) (The Gondoliers)"

Why on earth is there "Bass" in parentheses? Is there concern that the reader might have forgotten what page he or she is on? Granted, I can't really blame the reader for any confusion, as it also lists:

"Sir Marmduke (bass-baritone) and the Notary (The Sorcerer)

Sergeant Meryll (bass-baritone)(The Yeomen of the Guard)

Wilfred Shadbolt (bass-baritone or baritone)(The Yeomen of the Guard)"

I mean, this section is listing examples of the voice type in the respective operas. Why is it necessary to put the voice type in parentheses, next to an entry about examples of a specific voice type. And if you're going to denote Sir Marmaduke and Sergeant Meryll as "Bass-baritones," you may as well do so for all the parts Richard Temple played, including the title role in The Mikado and Sir Roderick, and add in The Pirate King and Dick Deadeye for good measure. And if you're denoting them as "bass-baritone or baritone" as opposed to "bass," then doesn't that indicate that the roles aren't particularly good examples? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.152.189.93 (talk) 22:00, 7 June 2009 (UTC)

Add Section for "Notable Broadway Musical Roles" For Basses and Bass-Baritones?[edit]

If "the powers that be" think this would be a good addition to the article, I'll research and add it. Let me know.Weyandt (talk) 17:47, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

This article deals with the bass voice type in opera (which includes operetta). It describes various bass types and lists corresponding opera roles and opera singers. I am not familiar enough with the musical theatre repertoire to understand whether it uses a comparable system of voice classification, and the article Voice classification in non-classical music and its related lists are of no help to me. It is even less clear to me that a category of "Broadway Musical Roles" even exists, and if it does, why it should be mentioned in this article. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 03:49, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
This topic has been discussed before at other voice type articles, and the general consensus is that to create such a list is generally impossible given wikipedia's guidelines for No Original Research/Synthesis. There are several reasons for this conclusion. First, unlike opera scores, the vast majority of published musical scores do not indicate voice types. The composers themselves did not indicate a certain desired voice type, so why should we? Second, casting practices in musical theatre vary widely. Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady for example is a role which was created by soprano Julie Andrews but has since been performed frequently by mezzo-sopranos as well as sopranos in professional productions. The same can be said of countless other musical theatre roles. I've even seen professional productions in Philadelphia and New York where men have tackled traditionally female roles and vice versa. In general musical theatre has had a history of greater flexibility in casting than in opera. It's not so easy to Pigeonhole musical theatre roles into one voice type or another.4meter4 (talk) 12:03, 20 September 2011 (UTC)