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Bass

Biology

Bass (rhyming with "mass") is a type of fish - see bass (fish). Sea bass is unrelated.

Music Bass (rhyming with "face") when used as an adjective, describes tones which are of low frequency. Played in an ensemble such notes are frequently used to provide a counterpoint or counter-melody, in an harmonic context either to outline or juxtapose the progression of the chords, or with percussion to underline the rhythm.

As a noun, a bass is a musical instrument or singer with a low range. As an instrument, it can be:

  • an abbreviated name for double bass (this is usually the instrument referred to as a "bass" in Classical music and jazz. Sometimes called a "string bass" to differentiate it from a "bass horn".)
  • an abbreviated name for bass guitar (this is usually the instrument referred to as a "bass" in rock & roll)
  • a bass horn, such as a tuba or sousaphone-- a wind instrument that fullfils a role similar to a string bass
  • an abbreviated name for bass clarinet, bass trombone, bass saxophone, etc (less common usage)

It can also refer to a male singer with the lowest range in music. A typical bass will have a range extended from around the F one and a half ovtaves below middle C (the note at the bottom of the bass clef) to the E above middle C (on the first line of the treble clef).

In classical music, and particularly in opera, there are sometimes distinctions made between different kinds of basses. A basso profondo (or basse noble) is a singer with a particularly deep voice; they may be able to get as low as the B below the bass clef. By contrast, a basso cantate (or basse chantate) is a singer with a lighter, more lyrical voice, perhaps with a slightly higher range. Basso buffo is a term used for a comic bass.

The male voice a little higher than a bass is the baritone. Sometimes the term bass-baritone is used to mean a singer with a range and tone somewhere between a bass and a baritone.


See also: Miami bass (booty bass), figured bass, basso continuo



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