Monday, March 27, 2023

The secret world of … Basses

This is a series of five posts looking in a light-hearted way at the different types of singers in a typical community choir. 

I've covered Sopranos, Altos and Tenors. For the last SATB section, here are the Basses. Enjoy! In my final post I deal with Floaters.

Here are ten things I’ve learnt about Basses after leading community choirs for over 25 years:

  1. Basses are usually men. But not always.
  2. Some women who think they’re Basses are actually Tenors.
  3. Male basses have only a few poses: hands in pockets; folded arms; frowns.
  4. Basses like to move when nobody is looking. Each time they shuffle their feet, they move backwards a few millimetres. If you don’t look at them for a while, you will find they have backed themselves into a corner. They feel safe there.
  5. Basses don’t often have a recognisable melody. Their part often jumps around, seemingly at random. That is why they often make their part up.
  6. Basses have been known to reinvent musical notation. Since they find it hard to know when their part goes up and down, they resort to pen and paper and draw long lines with squiggles. They know what it means. Nobody else does.
  7. It doesn’t take much for the Basses to sing really loud. And I mean really loud – even louder than the Sopranos or women Tenors. They have to be told quite often to hold their awesome power back.
  8. Basses would really like to be the only section in the choir. And can they have the tune please? Pretty please.
  9. Basses don’t chat much amongst themselves. Or with anyone else. Despite that, they don’t pay much attention to the choir leader.
  10. Basses don’t like dancing or any kind of movement.


You might also find this fun from Classic FM: The 10 worst things about being a bass.


And finally, from an unattributed meme that’s circulating the internet:

Top Ten Reasons for Being a Bass

1. You don’t have to tighten your shorts to reach your note.

2. You don’t have to worry about a woman stealing your job.

3. Or a pre-adolescent boy stealing your job.

4. Action heroes are always Basses.  That is - if they ever sang, they would sing bass.

5. You get great memorable lyrics like bop, bop, bop, bop.

6. If the singing job doesn’t work out, there’s always broadcasting.

7. You never need to learn to read the treble clef.

8. If you get a cold, so what.

9. For fun, you can sing at the bottom of your range and fool people into thinking there’s an earthquake.

10. If you belch while you’re singing, the audience just thinks it is part of the score.

Chris Rowbury


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