AskDefine | Define basso

Dictionary Definition



1 an adult male singer with the lowest voice [syn: bass]
2 the lowest adult male singing voice [syn: bass, bass voice] [also: bassi (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A bass singer, especially in opera.
  2. An instrumental part written for a bass instrument.



  • Hyphenation: bas·so
  • /ˈbɑsːo/|lang=fi


  1. bass (voice)
  2. A bass guitar

Derived terms



it-adj bass
  1. low
  2. short (in height)
  3. narrow, thin
  4. In the context of "of water|lang=it}} shallow

Extensive Definition

This article is related to a series of articles under the main article Voice type.
A bass is a male singer who sings in the lowest vocal range.
According to Grove Music Online, a bass is typically classified as having a range extending from around the F below small C to the E above middle C (i.e., F2–E4), with a tessitura, or comfortable range, normally ranging between the outermost lines of the bass clef.

Variations in bass range

However, 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 C two octaves below middle C (i.e. Measure 12 of Ne Imami Iniya Pomoshchi by Pavel Chesnokov), and the Rachmaninov Vespers call for the B-flat a tone below that. 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 profundo that can easily sing these notes.
Basses also have trouble reaching the notes above middle C, according to Grove Music Online; however, many British composers such as Benjamin Britten have written parts for bass that center far higher than the bass tessitura (such as the first movement of his choral work Rejoice in the Lamb). The Harvard Dictionary of Music defines the range as being from the E below low C to middle C (i.e. E2–C4).
In choral music, voices are subdivided into first bass and second bass, 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.
It is also common for men who are classified as "basses" (and have a full bass choral range) to have a speaking voice which may sound much higher than would be expected.

Bass roles in opera

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

Basso Cantante/Lyric High Bass/Lyric Bass-baritone

  • Basso Cantante means 'singing bass'. Basso cantante is a higher, more lyrical voice. It is produced by a more Italianate vocal production with a faster vibrato. A lyric bass-baritone. for listings of baritone as well as bass roles.
Bass Bass

Hoherbass/Dramatic High Bass/Dramatic Bass-baritone

Jugendlicher Bass

Basso Buffo/Bel Canto/Lyric Buffo

Schwerer Spielbass/Dramatic Buffo

Lyric Basso Profundo

Dramatic Basso Profundo

Bass roles in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas

Some prominent operatic basses on disc

basso in Bulgarian: Бас (гласов обхват)
basso in Czech: Bas
basso in Danish: Basstemme
basso in German: Bass (Stimmlage)
basso in Estonian: Bass
basso in Spanish: Bajo (voz)
basso in Esperanto: Baso
basso in Persian: باس
basso in French: Basse (voix)
basso in Korean: 베이스 (성악)
basso in Indonesian: Bass
basso in Icelandic: Bassi (söngrödd)
basso in Italian: Basso (voce)
basso in Lithuanian: Bosas
basso in Hungarian: Basszus
basso in Malay (macrolanguage): Bes (suara)
basso in Dutch: Bas (zangstem)
basso in Japanese: バス (声域)
basso in Portuguese: Baixo (voz)
basso in Russian: Бас
basso in Slovenian: Bas
basso in Finnish: Basso
basso in Swedish: Basstämma
basso in Ukrainian: Бас
basso in Chinese: 男低音

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Heldentenor, Meistersinger, alto, aria singer, baritenor, baritone, bass, basso buffo, basso cantante, basso profundo, blues singer, canary, cantatrice, cantor, caroler, chanter, chantress, coloratura soprano, comic bass, contralto, countertenor, crooner, deep bass, diva, dramatic soprano, heroic tenor, hymner, improvisator, lead singer, lieder singer, melodist, mezzo-soprano, opera singer, prima donna, psalm singer, rock-and-roll singer, singer, singstress, songbird, songster, songstress, soprano, tenor, torch singer, vocalist, vocalizer, voice, warbler, yodeler
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