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Basso Profundo

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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 .

Basso profundonote  (also spelled Basso profondonote ) 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.

This voice range is rare, just like women able to sing in Whistle register. Even more rare are men who speak naturally within this register, a trait that almost always overlaps with Baritone of Strength and Evil Sounds Deep. Contrast Tenor Boy.


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  • Christopher Lee (though his singing is in the bass-baritone range).
  • James Earl Jones (the voice of, among others, Darth Vader and Mufasa) is made of this. There is a reason that he is always associated with Darth Vader, simply because the voice is so iconic and badass.
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor (the voice of Scar) in The Lion King remake.
  • Christopher Plummer (the voices of Henri from An American Tail, The Grand Duke of Owls in Rock-a-Doodle, Barnaby Crookedman in Babes in Toyland and Charles Muntz in Disney Pixars UP) is an example of this.
  • While not a singer, actor Kevin Grevioux has an extremely deep voice, to the point where many people watching Underworld (2003) 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.
  • The Swedish voice actor Stefan Ljungqvist sings in a deep bass comparable to Christopher Lee above, perhaps most famously in "Hellfire." He is a properly trained opera singer after all.
  • The Jungle Book (1967): Shere Khan. When he speaks, his voice is deep and melodious; his sole singing line in the entire movie, however, is this to a tee. "That's what friends... are foooooooooooooooor". This singing line is usually attributed to Thurl Ravenscroft, who was a noted bass singer.
  • Ray Porter's portrayal of Darkseid in Zack Snyder's Justice League features one, particularly when he declares "All of existence shall be mine!"
  • A bass singer is featured prominently throughout the song One of Us in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, animated in the form of a hippo. He hits some impressively low notes.
  • In Make Mine Music, the lowest of Willie the Whale's three voices was baritone but could reach these levels, as demonstrated when Willie played the lead role in Mefistofele (which requires one of these).
  • In Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, Unicron's voice, played and voiced by Colman Domingo (although a smooth, raspy throat baritone with an amazing falsetto singing voice) with special effects, is considered to have a resonant, deep, dark, cavernous, and sepulchral bass (or bass-baritone) timbre reflecting on his hunger and quest for devouring the multiverse. [1] It's reminiscent to the original G1 provided by the late Orson Welles [2].


  • Will J. "Dub" Jones of the Coasters, who sings backup vocals on "Yakety Yak" (Don't talk back), "Young Blood", Salty Sam's lines in "Along Came Jones", and "Charlie Brown" (Why's everybody always pickin' on me?)
  • 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 from the "oom papa mow mow"s on "Elvira".
  • 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 this feat singing backup for the 1977 Elvis Presley song "Way Down."
    • Southern Gospel music, which is what made Sumner famous, has a ton of low-down basses, including Ken Turner, Paul Downing, Rex Nelon, Tim Riley, Mike Holcomb, Glen Dustin, George Younce, Tim Duncan, London Parris, and numerous others, all of which regularly reach notes on a night-after-night basis that would make the average operatic or doo-wop bass singer cringe.
  • Melvin Franklin of The Temptations was renowned for his extremely rich and deep bass voice, which gave the Tempts a truly unique harmony during his tenure with the group.
  • Thurl Ravenscroft did 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... Frieeeeeends... Are foooooor" in Disney's The Jungle Book (1967). Pick some guy you think is a bass, and have him try to hit that last note. Technically, that was Bill Lee 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.
    • Technically, Robeson was a bass-baritone with an extended low range.
  • 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.
  • Eric Alatorre of Chanticleer is one of few powerful American profondos, reaching down to a solid F♯1 ("Ease on Down the Road") and perhaps beyond.
  • Tom Waits is best known as a basso profondo singer, though in his earlier career he was better known as a smooth voiced baritone. And he's a gravelly basso profundo, too.
  • 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 Mike McCary.
  • Club for Five's Tuukka Haapaniemi. One of the strongest vocal basses in contemporary a cappella, also a trained classical vocalist. Just... Watch.
  • Avi Kaplan of Pentatonix is the reason fans of the group always recommend listening with headphones. He can hit notes so low that he once blew out a speaker during a performance of "Hit the Road, Jack."
  • 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").
  • In Pitch Perfect 2's soundtrack, bass singer Elliott Michael repeatedly hits notes in the F1-G1 range, even hitting E♭1 during their mash-ups. He also has a surprising baritone and falsetto register ("Sugar Medley" "Talk2Me").
  • 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, whose voice has been compared to Barry White's.
  • Stefan Poiss of and Thyx.
  • Tim Foust of Home Free. His last note in their cover of "Ring of Fire" will rattle your floorboards. Likewise his impressive E1 on a cover of the aforementioned "Elvira", where he out-basses even Sterban!
  • Leonard Cohen, though it only started to set in during the eighties; his voice on his seventies records is noticeably higher. He remarked that when he started recording 1984's Various Positions after a five-year break, his voice had deepened almost an octave, and it only got deeper.
  • Jonathan Young, known for his covers of Disney music. Sometimes it fits really well, like when he's doing Scar or Frollo. But then you hear him doing Elsa or the Muses... Somehow, it still works.
  • In the 1960s and 70s, fans of world music put on the Nonesuch recording Liturgical Music of the Russian Cathedral and wondered what had happened to the speed on their turntables. It was just Michael Trubetzkoi, the unbelievable basso profundo of the Johannes-Damascenus Choir of Essen, chanting verses from Paul's epistle to the Romans. Blogger Derek Davis describes hearing it for the first time:
    ... starts in the subbasement of the human voice and ascends, step by step, a full octave, until hes half way up the cellar stairs. Then stops. Its chilling, unnerving, exhilarating a mountain asking for permission to roam the world.
  • T.J. Osborne of Brothers Osborne can sing basso-profundo, as demonstrated on "It Ain't My Fault".
  • Randy Travis hits a basso-profundo note on "If I Didn't Have You".
  • Mikhail Zlatopolsky's documented lowest note is E♭1, which means his voice was so low that accordingly it made his nearby singers tremble. Hear for yourself: [3].
  • Larry Hooper, one of Lawrence Welk's featured vocalists, was a popular attraction of the band thanks to his basso profundo voice, featured on such hits as "Oh Happy Day" and "This Old House".
  • R&B vocal group The Ravens, very successful in the late 1940s and early 1950s, owed a big part of its success to bass vocalist Jimmy Ricks, who became the standard against which R&B bass vocalists would be measured for the next generation. note 
  • Even though he's a bass-baritone, George Ezra hits a very low note in about three minutes of his song "Shotgun" ("Feeling like a someone, someone, someone, someone.").
  • Chuck Barksdale of the Dells was a key contributor to the group's harmonic blend, but could use his deep voice to great effect when called to the spotlight (e.g. "I Can Sing a Rainbow/Love Is Blue").
  • Geoff Castellucci of Voice Play is certainly this, (although he says he would never call himself a true bass and thinks of himself more as "a baritone with a bass range") with his lowest recorded note being a B0 (as heard in the 'Warriors' cover), and hitting various other low notes in their other covers by using subharmonics. Geoff has cited Thurl Ravenscroft as a major inspiration of his, and this is very noticeable if you listen to both of them sing.
  • Korean vocal quartet Forestella has Ko Woo-rim. He's a classically trained basso profundo opera singer, having studied music in college, and bass singers are extremely rare to come by in the Korean music industry. Not only can he reach pretty damn low (his lowest note on record is a G#1), but he's also the youngest member of the group at age 28 (his fellow Forestella members and tenors Doohoon, Hyungho and Mingyu are 37, 35 and 32, respectively), which is quite shocking to find out once you've heard him sing.

  • 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. By contrast, his underling Annas is a countertenor.
  • Osmin in Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio. Played for Laughs, as the singer with the manliest voice plays a eunuch (although that's technically possible if he was castrated after his voice changed).
  • Sarastro, the Anti-Villain of The Magic Flute, sings very deep but lyrically.
  • The Commendatore in Don Giovanni, notably demonstrated in his arrival in Jacob Marley Apparel: "Don Giovanni, a cenar teco!"
  • Patrick Page has played some well-known bass parts, including Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Hades in Hadestown.
  • Smudge in Forever Plaid, especially during Sixteen Tons.
  • Nick Massi in Jersey Boys. As a matter of fact, it's all he feels that he's worth in the group.

    Video Games 
  • Deep Rock Galactic: The Driller, who is voiced by the same man as all the other dwarves but pitch-shifted appropriately to sound like he inhaled an entire tanker's worth of sulfur hexafluoride.
  • Mid-Fight Masses: Ruv, Sarvente's hitman friend, has a voice that sounds like a deep Russian drum beat.
  • Vs Sonic.exe: Sonic.exe himself has a singing voice low enough to qualify as an Oktavist easily - it sounds positively demonic! And in You Can't Run and Triple Trouble, he starts singing chords.

    Web Original 

  • Corpse Husband, a YouTube and Twitch streamer, speaks naturally with a G1 vocal register. Jacksepticeye describes it as "infrasonic bass". Despite his username and this trope, CORPSE is actually a Nice Guy; and his voice definitely adds to his charm and personality, as other streamers and personalities (up to and including a US congresswomannote ) can attest.

    Western Animation 
  • While being a distinguished operatic singer, Samuel Ramey is perhaps best known as the voice of The Beast in Over the Garden Wall.
  • The Transformers
  • Much like James Earl Jones, veteran voice actor Kevin Michael Richardson is known for being this, and has used it for a lot of characters hes voiced (such as Trigon, Shredder, Ego The Living Planet, the Lion Turtle, Skulker, and so many more.)
  • Played for laughs in the Dexter's Laboratory episode "Dee Dee Be Deep". Dexter tried to improve his sister Dee Dee's awful singing voice with one of his inventions, but thanks to Dee Dee messing around with it she became a very exaggerated bass. While she didn't get into the school choir, it worked out for her in the end; she joined a Barbershop Quartet instead.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Dish Rattler, Basso Profondo


Barry White Saves the Snakes

Lisa and Bart recruit Barry White and sexy bass voice to save the snakes from the Springfield mob.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

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