Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Choir Sections Part 1

I've wanted to do a blog series for a while now that talked about the defining characteristics (and characters) of the eight sections of a standard choir. And I say eight sections because I believe that second sopranos are different from first sopranos, basses are different from baritones, etc. Obviously, there are differences between professional choirs and community choirs and church choirs, but there are some distinct similarities too!

So I'd like to start my survey at the "bottom" with the basses.

I've heard it said that double-bass players in an orchestra love their job. I think the same applies for choral basses.

Basses love what they do. Most of the basses that I've had the pleasure of knowing love being the root of the choral sound, the pedal point, the foundation. There's a consistency and a comfort to the traditional bass sound that is, from a witnesses point of view, as pleasant to sing as it is to hear.

Despite the love, Basses often present an outward persona of gruffness and disapproval. Don't mind them; they don't mean it.

Basses tend towards suspicion of music that asks them to sing up in their high range or even worse, falsetto, because it takes them out of their comfortable rooted place in the deep low range. After all, that's what we have baritones and second tenors for, right?

Basses live for singing KING OF KINGS in the Hallelujah chorus.

I have never sung in a choir that didn't have at least one deaf bass. Often, there are TWO deaf basses who sit next to each other and try to help each other out. This is not productive.

Basses are the section most likely to keep singing when the conductor signals a stop in the rehearsal, but Basses need, and love, a conductor who cues well.

Basses are the singers most likely to have mustaches.

1 comment:

Sue said...

From the complete NON-musician out here, thank you for this info. I've always been too embarrassed to ask how people are designated to their row in the choir loft.