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Music Sound


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Vocal ranges
Female ranges

Male ranges


A bass (or basso in Italian) is a male singer who sings in the lowest vocal range of the human voice. A typical bass has a range extending from around the E below the bottom of the bass clef to the E above middle C (i.e. E2-E4). Bass is also used to refer to a low speaking voice.



In classical music, and particularly in opera, the following distinctions are often made among different kinds of bass voices:

  • Basso profondo (frequently misspelled basso profundo, also French basse noble) is a particularly deep and resonant voice. It may reach the D, C or even B flat below the bass clef, but is most distinguished by its dark and cavernous timbre. This kind of bass typically plays an older man.
  • Basso cantante (French basse chantante) is a lighter, more lyrical voice, perhaps with a slightly higher range. A typical role in opera is Escamillo from Bizet's Carmen.
  • Basso buffo literally means "comic bass." It is used to describe operatic roles that do not call for lyrical, elaborate singing but do require a strong comic acting ability. A typical role in opera is Don Bartolo from Rossini's opera Il barbiere di Siviglia.
  • Bass-baritone is a voice with the resonant low notes of the typical bass but with the ability to sing in a baritonal tessitura. Sometimes it also refers to a voice with a range and tone somewhere between a bass and a baritone. A typical role in opera is Wotan from Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen.

Bass roles in opera

Sarastro The Magic Flute by (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) Dramatic Bass
Figaro The Marriage of Figaro by (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) Bass-Baritone
King Phillip Don Carlos by (Giuseppe Verdi) Dramatic Bass
Baculus, Der Wildschütz by (Albert Lortzing) Schwerer Spielbass
Osmin, Die Entführung aus dem Serail by (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) Bass Buffo
Don Pasquale, Don Pasquale by (Gaetano Donizetti) Bass Buffo
Don Alfonso, Cosi Fan Tutte by (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) Bass-Baritone
Zaccaria, Nabucco by (Giuseppe Verdi) Lyric Bass
Mephistofeles, Faust by (Charles Gounod) Lyric Bass
König Marke, Tristan und Isolde by (Richard Wagner) Dramatic bass
Banquo Macbeth by (Giuseppe Verdi) Dramatic bass

Bass roles in operettas

The Mikado of Japan (The Mikado)
Sergeant of Police (The Pirates of Penzance)
Old Adam Goodheart (Ruddigore)
Private Willis (Iolanthe)

Bass roles in musicals

Barney (Pirates: a Romeo and Juliet Story)
Caiaphas (Jesus Christ Superstar)
Leon Czolgosz (Assassins)
Judge Turpin (Sweeney Todd)
Joe (Showboat)

Famous basses

Classical music

Kurt Böhme
Feodor Chaliapin
Boris Christoff
Allan James Foli
Gottlob Frick
Nicolai Ghiaurov
Josef Greindl
Kurt Moll
James Morris
Ezio Pinza
Pol Plançon
Ruggero Raimondi
Samuel Ramey
Valerian Ruminski
Jaakko Ryhänen
Cesare Siepi
Matti Salminen
Martti Talvela
Bryn Terfel
John Tomlinson
Franco Ventriglia
Willard White
Viktor Wichniakov

Popular music

Mark Lanegan
Johnny Cash
Leonard Cohen
Barry Carl
George Baldi
Peter Steele
Isaac Freeman
Melvin Franklin
Mark Knopfler
Rob Kokarinen
James Ingram
Isaac Hayes
Michael McCary
Thurl Ravenscroft
Ivan Rebroff
Paul Robeson
Barry White
Harry Shearer
Vladimir Vysotsky
David Glenn Gould
Till Lindemann

External links

Home | Up | Sopranist | Alto | Tenor | Baritenor | Baritone | Bass-baritone | Bass

Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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