aka: Basso Profondo
Voice archetype: a guy who sings bass. Allow us to rephrase that: a guy who sings BASS
, a bass singer's BASS
, a BASS
that makes Barry White
's bass sound like a boy soprano
(also spelled Basso profondo
) is the technical term for the lowest of all voices. To qualify, the character must be able to give a tuba a run for its money when it comes to low notes.
Many may be "Oktavists", men who sing a full octave
below the normal bass range. Also known as Russian Bass due to its prevalence in Russian Orthodox chant and other Slavic music.
- Christopher Lee (though his singing is in the bass-baritone range).
- Voice actor James Earl Jones (the voice of, among others, Darth Vader and Mufasa) is noted for being this.
- While not a singer, actor Kevin Grevioux has an extremely deep voice, to the point where many people watching Underworld thought his voice was altered. Not only is Grevioux playing a brutish enforcer (and looks the part), but he's also the one who came up with the idea for the movie in the first place thanks to his degree in microbiology.
- Referenced in Soul Music by the bass guy who says nothing but "Oh, yeeeah". Except when confronted by Susan, when it changes to "Oh, noooooo". Also, Death is repeatedly described as having an incredibly deep voice, explicitly referred to as a bass in Maskerade. Naturally, most of the adaptations have Christopher Lee doing his voice, as Pterry has openly admitted that he's one of the few people in the world capable of speaking in bold capital letters in real life.
- In Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, the villain is said to have such a voice, which Luke disparagingly calls a faux-Vader voice. Like with Vader, it's not the speaker's original. The villain is actually a very old man putting his voice through filters.
- Face Loran, a Former Child Star in the X-Wing Series, can modulate his voice. When he has to improvise a fake identity in a hurry, part of what he does is push his voice down to the lowest register humanly possible, which is described as making things on the desk in front of him rattle.
- In the New Jedi Order novels, Supreme Overlord Shimrra is described as having a "bone-shivering" bass voice.
- Guinness world record holder for lowest note ever sung and widest vocal range, Tim Storms. He is able (proven by technology) to vibrate his vocal cords at 7 cycles per second, well below the lower human hearing threshold. That's right — he sings so low you can't hear it.
- Richard Sterban of The Oak Ridge Boys, most famously on their song "Elvira". Another example is Dream On
- Harold Reid of The Statler Brothers
- J.D. Sumner of The Blackwood Brothers and The Stamps Quartet held the Guinness World Record for lowest recorded human voice for a 1968 recording of "Blessed Assurance." He would match his feat singing backup for the 1977 Elvis Presley song "Way Down".
- Thurl Ravenscroft did the the voice of Tony the Tiger. He's also the bass lead of the Mellomen, the group that sings "Grim Grinning Ghosts" in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyworld, and was the vocalist for "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch".
- George Sanders is another deep bass, as evidenced by Shere Khan's "That's ... what ... frieeeeends ... are foooooooor" in the Disney version of The Jungle Book. Pick some guy you think is a bass, and have him try to hit that last note.
- Technically, that was Bill Lee (this one) doing that note, since George Sanders was unavailable.
- In the song "North To Alaska" Johnny Horton hits a basso-profondo note ("way up noooooooooorth").
- Johnny Cash, at times, too.
- Trace Adkins, he of "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" (and Celebrity Apprentice) fame.
- Barry Carl, the bass guy from Rockapella
- Isaac Freeman of the Fairfield Four.
- Paul Robeson, as demonstrated here.
- Boris Christoff: the start of this is a good example
- The late American bass Jerome Hines tried singing Wotan, but gave it up because the pitch was too high for him.
- Parodied in "The Dooright Family" by Ray Stevens, where the bass singer in the titular gospel family band (voiced entirely by Ray) is asked to "go for another octave". He does (by way of studio trickery on Ray, who is a baritone at best in Real Life), causing him to explode onstage.
- Noriel Vilela, a Brazilian samba singer.
- Michel Bell, Tony-nominated actor-singer and former member of the Fifth Dimension.
- Male choir Chanticleer features bass Eric Alatorre, whom you can hear in all his glory in John Tavener's "Village Wedding" (listen for him during the tenor's solo that starts with "let them throw white rice like a spring shower").
- One of the background singers on Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn's "Anything, Anytime, Anywhere" is an oktavist. Listen particularly at the end.
- Paul David Kennamer from Valour Music. His solo starts at 1 minute 54 seconds in here.
- Tom Waits is best known as a basso profondo singer, though in his earlier career he was better known as a smooth-voiced baritone.
- Yuri Wichniakov is a particularly low basso profondo, whose lowest recorded note is an E1 during "Evening Bell" at about 4:00 in.
- Peter Steele of Type O Negative usually sang in the upper register of his voice, but was certainly capable of this; he often noted that their shows were so loud he couldn't even hear himself sing.
- Boyz II Men's Nathan Morris.
- Mike McCary even more so.
- Avi Kaplan of Pentatonix is the reason fans of the group always recommend listening with headphones.
- Atsushi Sakurai of Buck Tick can do this as part of his extraordinary range.
- His Excellency Demon Kogure of Seikima II is even more notable for it - he can reach almost all ranges from here to high tenor verging on falsetto.
- The two well-known vocalists of Malice Mizer, Gacktnote and Klaha, though Gackt is more of a Bass Baritone, rather than Basso Profondo. Fairly evident in their most well-known (and sadly, their last) hit, "Beast of Blood", where Klaha manages to combine his low register with a Perishing Alt Rock Voice.
- Ittoku "Sally" Kishibe, Lead Bassist of The Tigers, who had easily the most recognizably distinct voice of the band, matching his instrument.
- Ken Turner takes this trope to a whole new low in "Rainbow of Love".
- Josh Turner hits a basso profundo note on "Would You Go with Me" ("If we rode from town to town and never shut it down").
- One of the most famous basses in recent history, late great Feodor Shalyapin, ironically wasn't a Basso Profondo, but instead a higher and more lively Basso Cantante. He could go as low as he wanted, but personally preferred to sing closer to a baritonal register.
- The Spine of Steam Powered Giraffe has been known to hit ridiculously low notes in some of the band's harmonies; what makes this even more remarkable is his tendency to jump from bass straight into an impressive falsetto.
- Italian singer Mario Biondi, who's voice has been compared to Barry White's.
- Stefan Poiss of mind.in.a.box and Thyx.
- In South Pacific, "There Is Nothing Like a Dame" includes a one-line solo that descends to an impressively low note.
- Caiaphas in Jesus Christ Superstar is usually one of these.
- Osmin in Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio. Played for Laughs, as the singer with the manliest voice plays... a Eunuch!