Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Bass Notes

So it seems that all this shape note singing and pretending to be a bass is actually starting to pay off. Tonight I was driving home and trying to sing bass lines to the music I was listening to (TMBG, surprise surprise). Or I'd just sing the melody an octave below. Whatever I could manage for each song. Feeling pretty pleased with myself, I decided to check my lowest note against the piano when I got home. I don't often have an absolute reference for my range, since in shape note the songs are often pitched differently than they're written. (And my attempts at having absolute pitch are thrown off if I don't know exactly what my range is.) So I checked and found to my delight that I can sing a low F now! All you real basses are laughing at me right now, I know, but this is exciting for me. It wasn't that long ago that I was struggling just to get down to the G.

Checking my handy dandy little music dictionary, I discovered that the "official" range for a bass voice goes down to an E, so I'm actually pretty close already. Very cool. Of course, my bass notes still aren't very strong, but it's something at least. I also discovered that there are terms for different types of basses. A basso profundo is probably the one that would be the most fun, but I don't know where I would find the resonance for it, even if I could manage the notes. Then there's basso cantante, with a "light, sweet quality." That would probably be nice, too, though I still wouldn't label my voice anything like "sweet." The third one is basso buffo, or "comic bass." Maybe that's what we baritones can be if we're silly enough to think we can be basses.

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