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December 7, 2009

Why basses can’t remember their part

From the front of the choir (blog)

The bass part often follows the root notes of the chords as they progress through the piece. If it’s a relatively straightforward song, then there will sometimes only be three chords. This means that the basses only get to sing three notes! Even worse, if the basses are singing a constant drone to a song, which often happens in Georgian singing for example, they may only get two notes!

With just two or three notes, it’s very hard to create any kind of interesting, memorable memory. Most of the time the basses are wondering how long they have to stay on this note and when they have to move onto the next one. There are often no clues for when to change, and no easy way of remembering.

The tops and the altos usually have an interesting melody to remember (with lots of notes!). The tenors can too, but in any case usually have some sexy blues notes in there to signal where they are. But the poor basses have no road map of where to go. No wonder they find it hard to remember a featureless landscape. Read more.

I think many of you out there might want to comment on Chris's blog posting. All I can say is I have noticed that bass singers always seem to be the last to arrive for sound checks. And for everything else for that matter..

Posted by acapnews at December 7, 2009 9:41 PM


While YOU may think basses only sing three notes in a song...in Barbershop they sing a lot more that that! And they can raise the hairs on your arms when they do that "slide" at the end of a song.
Barbershop is an original American Vocal art form...difficult to tune and sing, and when done with precision and finesse, will knock your sox off. It's one of biggest "secrets" in the music world, and I'm glad to see A cappella bringing all of these forms to the forefront. Too bad people think Barbershop cannot be modern...oh yes indeed it can...it's been around for 100 years, so it must have something going for it.

Posted by: Margo Atkinson at December 13, 2009 1:30 PM

I love being a bass in my Sweet Adelines Chorus, Golden Sands. I like that there is no chord without me, that at times I get to be the percussion, and that I always get some great slides. After years of singing either alto or tenor in a mixed chorus, I am thrilled to be ringing the bass notes!

Posted by: Margaret Brewer at February 4, 2010 11:15 PM

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