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Consider the basses

Consider the basses. They neither toil nor spin...

As they rumble out their low frequencies, sad to say, these poor guys must also countenance numerous indignities visited upon them by their conductors and, shockingly, their fellow singers. In choral circles, they are victims of ‘vocal profiling.’

It pains me to report that the grossly unfair stereotypes of basses include (but are certainly not limited to):

  1. pitch inaccuracies

  2. random rhythms

  3. unfortunate tonal choices

  4. dynamic insensitivities

  5. idiosyncratic articulations

  6. generally lumbering vocalism

  7. difficulty with foreign languages

  8. difficulty with English

  9. poor tolerance of sopranos

  10. indifference to altos

  11. resentment of tenors

  12. trouble identifying, much less following, conductor

In addition to these—and many other—musical complaints, basses must rise above ostracizing social grievances. Basses are heartlessly characterized as:

  1. fashion-backward

  2. apparently color-blind

  3. easily swayed by food and beer

  4. conversationally challenged

  5. low energy

  6. frightening to children

  7. inattentive to personal grooming

  8. hostile to emotional display

  9. susceptible to 'herd mentality' (albeit only among basses)

  10. suspicious of 'concepts’

How could basses have gotten this bum rap, seemingly out of the blue?

It’s SO hard to imagine, but the veritable Niagara of complaints is probably grounded in the fact that is so darn entertaining to tease them—and they tolerate it so well (if they notice at all).

Now don't get me started about sopranos!

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