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A bass is a type of classical male singing voice and has the lowest vocal range of all voice types. According to The New Grove Dictionary of Opera , a bass is typically classified as having a vocal range extending from around the second E below middle C to the E above middle C (i.e., E2–E4).Its tessitura, or comfortable range, is normally defined by the outermost lines of the bass clef. Categories of bass voices vary according to national style and classification system.
Italians favour subdividing basses into the basso cantante (singing bass), basso buffo ("funny" bass), or the dramatic basso profondo (low bass). The American systemidentifies the bass-baritone, comic bass, lyric bass, and dramatic bass.
The German Fach systemoffers further distinctions: Spielbass (Bassbuffo), Schwerer Spielbass (Schwerer Bassbuffo), Charakterbass (Bassbariton), and Seriöser Bass. These classification systems can overlap. Rare is the performer who embodies a single Fach without also touching repertoire from another category.
Cultural influence and individual variation create a wide variation in range and quality of bass singers. Parts for basses have included notes as low as the B-flat two octaves and a tone below middle C (B♭1), for example in Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2 and the Rachmaninov's All-Night Vigil, A below that in Frederik Magle's symphonic suite Cantabile, G below that (e.g. Measure 76 of Ne otverzhi mene by Pavel Chesnokov) or F below those in Kheruvimskaya pesn (Song of Cherubim) by Krzysztof Penderecki. Many 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 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 low human voice pitch.
Many British composers such as Benjamin Britten have written parts for bass (such as the first movement of his choral work Rejoice in the Lamb ) that center far higher than the bass tessitura as implied by the clef.The Harvard Dictionary of Music defines the range as being from the E below low C to middle C (i.e. E2–C4).
Bass has the lowest vocal range of all voice types, with the lowest tessitura. The low extreme for basses is generally C2 (two Cs below middle C). However, some extreme bass singers, referred to as basso profondos and oktavists, are able to reach much lower than this.
| Voice classification|
in choral music
In SATB four-part mixed chorus, the bass is the lowest vocal range, below the tenor, alto, and soprano. Voices are subdivided into first bass and second bass with no distinction being made between bass and baritone voices, in contrast to the three-fold (tenor–baritone–bass) categorization of solo voices. The exception is in arrangements for male choir (TTBB) and barbershop quartets (TLBB), which sometimes label the lowest two parts baritone and bass.
Within opera, the lowest note in the standard bass repertoire is D2, sung by the character Osmin in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail , but few roles fall below F2. Although Osmin's note is the lowest 'demanded' in the operatic repertoire, lower notes are heard, both written and unwritten: for example, it is traditional for basses to interpolate a low C in the duet "Ich gehe doch rathe ich dir" in the same opera; in Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier , Baron Ochs has an optional C2 ("Mein lieber Hippolyte"). The high extreme: a few bass roles in the standard repertoire call for a high F♯ or G (F♯4 and G4, the one above middle C), but few roles go over F4. In the operatic bass repertoire, the highest notes are a G♯4 (The Barber in The Nose by Shostakovich) and, in the aria "Fra l'ombre e gl'orrori" in Handel's serenata Aci, Galatea e Polifemo , Polifemo reaches an A4.
Within the bass voice type category are seven generally recognized subcategories: basso cantante (singing bass), hoher bass (high bass), jugendlicher bass (juvenile bass), basso buffo ("funny" bass), Schwerer Spielbass (dramatic bass), lyric bass, and dramatic basso profondo (low bass).
Basso cantante means "singing bass".Basso cantante is a higher, more lyrical voice. It is produced using a more Italianate vocal production, and possesses a faster vibrato, than its closest Germanic/Anglo-Saxon equivalent, the bass-baritone.
Hoher Bass or "high bass" or often a dramatic bass-baritone.
Jugendlicher Bass (juvenile bass) denotes the role of a young man sung by a bass, regardless of the age of the singer.
Buffo, literally "funny", basses are lyrical roles that demand from their practitioners a solid coloratura technique, a capacity for patter singing and ripe tonal qualities if they are to be brought off to maximum effect. They are usually the blustering antagonist of the hero/heroine or the comic-relief fool in bel canto operas.
English equivalent: dramatic bass
Basso profondo (lyric low bass) is the lowest bass voice type. According to J. B. Steane in Voices, Singers & Critics, the basso profondo voice "derives from a method of tone-production that eliminates the more Italian quick vibrato. In its place is a kind of tonal solidity, a wall-like front, which may nevertheless prove susceptible to the other kind of vibrato, the slow beat or dreaded wobble."
English equivalent: dramatic low bass. Dramatic basso profondo is a powerful basso profondo voice.
All of the Gilbert and Sullivan Savoy operas, except Patience and The Yeomen of the Guard , have at least one lead bass. Notable roles include:
A soprano ([soˈpraːno]) is a type of classical female singing voice and has the highest vocal range of all voice types. The soprano's vocal range (using scientific pitch notation) is from approximately middle C (C4) = 261 Hz to "high A" (A5) = 880 Hz in choral music, or to "soprano C" (C6, two octaves above middle C) = 1046 Hz or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which often encompasses the melody. The soprano voice type is generally divided into the coloratura, soubrette, lyric, spinto, and dramatic soprano.
A tenor is a type of classical male singing voice whose vocal range lies between the countertenor and baritone voice types. It is the highest male chest voice type. The tenor's vocal range extends up to C5. The low extreme for tenors is widely defined to be B2, though some roles include an A♭2 (two A♭s below middle C). At the highest extreme, some tenors can sing up to the second F above middle C (F5). The tenor voice type is generally divided into the leggero tenor, lyric tenor, spinto tenor, dramatic tenor, heldentenor, and tenor buffo or spieltenor.
A baritone is a type of classical male singing voice whose vocal range lies between the bass and the tenor voice-types. The term originates from the Greek βαρύτονος (barýtonos), meaning "heavy sounding". Composers typically write music for this voice in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C (i.e. F2–F4) in choral music, and from the second A below middle C to the A above middle C (A2 to A4) in operatic music, but the range can extend at either end. Subtypes of baritone include the baryton-Martin baritone (light baritone), lyric baritone, Kavalierbariton, Verdi baritone, dramatic baritone, baryton-noble baritone, and the bass-baritone.
A contralto is a type of classical female singing voice whose vocal range is the lowest female voice type.
A mezzo-soprano or mezzo (; Italian: [ˌmɛddzosoˈpraːno]; meaning "half soprano") is a type of classical female singing voice whose vocal range lies between the soprano and the contralto voice types. The mezzo-soprano's vocal range usually extends from the A below middle C to the A two octaves above (i.e. A3–A5 in scientific pitch notation, where middle C = C4; 220–880 Hz). In the lower and upper extremes, some mezzo-sopranos may extend down to the F below middle C (F3, 175 Hz) and as high as "high C" (C6, 1047 Hz). The mezzo-soprano voice type is generally divided into the coloratura, lyric, and dramatic mezzo-soprano.
A bass-baritone is a high-lying bass or low-lying "classical" baritone voice type which shares certain qualities with the true baritone voice. The term arose in the late 19th century to describe the particular type of voice required to sing three Wagnerian roles: the title role in Der fliegende Holländer, Wotan/Der Wanderer in the Ring Cycle and Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Wagner labelled these roles as Hoher Bass —see fach for more details.
The German Fach system is a method of classifying singers, primarily opera singers, according to the range, weight, and color of their voices. It is used worldwide, but primarily in Europe, especially in German-speaking countries and by repertory opera houses.
The Canadian Opera Company (COC) is an opera company in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is the largest opera company in Canada and one of the largest producers of opera in North America. The COC performs in its own opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. For forty years until April 2006, the COC had performed at the O'Keefe Centre.
Kurt Moll was a German operatic bass singer who enjoyed an international career and was widely recorded.
Elisabeth Grümmer was a German soprano. She has been described as "a singer blessed with elegant musicality, warm-hearted sincerity, and a voice of exceptional beauty".
Ramón Vinay was a famous Chilean operatic tenor with a powerful, dramatic voice. He is probably best remembered for his appearances in the title role of Giuseppe Verdi's tragic opera Otello.
A voice type is a group of voices with similar vocal ranges, capable of singing in a similar tessitura, and with similar vocal transition points (passaggi). Voice classification is most strongly associated with European classical music, though it, and the terms it utilizes, are used in other styles of music as well.
A lyric soprano is a type of operatic soprano voice that has a warm quality with a bright, full timbre that can be heard over an orchestra. The lyric soprano voice generally has a higher tessitura than a soubrette and usually plays ingenues and other sympathetic characters in opera. Lyric sopranos have a range from approximately middle C (C4) to "high D" (D6). This is the most common female singing voice. There is a tendency to divide lyric sopranos into two groups: light and full.
Marek Kalbus is a German opera and concert singer. He has the voice of a typical basso cantante and sings bass and bass-baritone roles.
Martin Babjak is a Slovak operatic baritone. The winner of several international singing competitions, he has been a principal singer at the Slovak National Theatre since 1989. He has also appeared as a guest artist at opera houses in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, France, Norway, Egypt, Canada, the United States, Japan and the Czech Republic. He has particularly excelled in portraying roles from the operas of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Giacomo Puccini, and Giuseppe Verdi.
Basso profondo, sometimes basso profundo or contrabass, is the lowest bass voice. Basso profondo Tim Storms holds the Guinness World Record for the "lowest note produced by a human".
Erwin Schück, better known by his stage name Erwin Sembach, was an opera singer with the Vienna Volksoper during its earliest years of producing operas, immediately before and during World War I. His greatest roles there were Masetto in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Papageno in Mozart's The Magic Flute, and Krušina in Smetana's The Bartered Bride.
Paul Bender was a German operatic bass.
Emmy Bettendorf was a German operatic soprano.
Konrad Rupf was a German operatic bass-baritone and teacher. He made his debut in 1955 at the Staatstheater Cottbus, moved to the Opernhaus Chemnitz in 1958, to the Leipzig Opera in 1980, and made guest appearances around Europe. Rupf performed a repertoire of 127 roles, including title roles from Handel's Poro to Gershwin's Porgy and Bess and Paul Dessau's Puntila, and roles in world premieres. He taught voice at the Musikhochschule Leipzig from 1980 to 1990. Rupf's last leading role was Tevje in Fiddler on the Roof, which premiered in 2000.