Category talk:Solo Bass

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This category seems un-defined. 1) should low-voice songs not specifically for bass be included here or in another category? 2) should all large works with solo quartet be included, or only those with an aria (I can't see why most Mozart masses should be here) or only those with Bass as the only/main soloist?. Richard Mix 11:24, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

Reply by: Chucktalk Giffen 15:59, 8 January 2010 (UTC)


This category is indeed defined and is a subcategory or Solo vocal music (it currently appears at the top of the second column of the listing of subcategories). To answer your other questions:

  1. Solo low is for works for unspecified low voice (e.g. alto or bass), Solo medium is for works with unspecified medium voice (e.g. mezzo or baritone), and Solo high is for works with unspecified high voice (e.g. soprano or tenor).
  2. This is more difficult to address, since it has been applied inconsistently across ChoralWiki. But my opinion is that, for example, Solo Bass, Solo SB, or Solo SATB should only be applied if the work contains a stand-alone movement/section (ie. without any supporting chorus required) of the work for Bass solo, Soprano-Bass duet, or SATB soli (quartet), respectively.
    • Furthermore, if the work contains several such stand-alone sections (eg. S, A, and T solos, SA and SB duets, SST and TTB trios) then the Solo vocal subcategory should be specified simply with the smallest collective distribution of such solo voices (ie. SSATTB solo in the example given).
    • Moreover, any given solo voice which only appears in sections with choral support should be placed in the appropriate subcategory of Choral solo music, eg. Choral bass solo.
    • There could be some ambiguity between these two points just mentioned. For example, the Mozart Missa Brevis in D minor, KV 65 is specified in the Gibson CPDL edition as being for "SATB Soli & Chorus..." which would suggest only the categorization Solo SATB. However, the only (marginally) stand-alone solo section is the SA duet Benedictus which concludes on the dominant (A major) – the subsequent tutti "Hosanna" is tacked on at the end. So this work might be properly categorized in Solo SA and either Choral solo SATB or Choral solo TB; alternatively, some might feel this should be categorized only in Solo SATB, since the only additional appearance of solo voices is alone or in combination with other solo voices, albeit within movements which also have choral subsections. My own preference in this case would be simply to use the latter categorization (Solo SATB), on the grounds that at least some of the voices (SA) appear in (essentially) stand-alone solo movement (the SA duet), and all four voices (SATB) only appear elsewhere with no chorus part(s) singing at the same time.

Possibly, we have been guilty of "slicing the bologna too thin" (ie. trying to be overly specific) in these categorizations. The original intent was to allocate solos which appear in works/movements requiring additional chorus support to categories different from works/movements requiring only soloists. This works well when one is dealing with a single work but becomes more difficult to treat when there are several movements/sections of a larger work with varying disposition of solos (choral and stand-alone). My current feeling (perhaps different from that I had when these categorization principles were first applied) is this:

  • If a larger scale work with several movements/sections has at least one section which requires (stand-alone) solo voices, then all solo voices (including those which might otherwise be considered as choral solo voices) be considered as (stand-alone) solo voices for the purpose of categorization. In other words, in the Mozart example cited above, Solo SATB would be the only (and simplest) categorization.

Thanks for the long reply; I had found the discussion at cat:solo vocal after posing my questions and edited the description here; I'll add CHoral bass solo. I mostly agree with your 2, with the slight reservations that

2a) I would rather see Petite Messe Solennelle (Gioachino Rossini) in Solo Bass and Solo Tenor than moved to Solo TB.
(2b) O Isis und Osiris or the Chanson du Brander with their slight choral interjections are more usefully placed here, while Choral bass solo is good for verse anthems like O sing unto the Lord (Henry Purcell) where the chorus cannot be treated as ad lib.

On another point, does it make sense to put a cleanup tag on a category page when it is the (many) listed pages that actually need fixing (ie, Leise flehen meine Lieder (standchen) for Soprano (Franz Schubert))? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Richard Mix (talkcontribs) on 21:57, 8 January 2010.

I think of the categories in a completely different way to you, Chuck:
  • Choral bass solo - the piece contains a solo where a member of a choir would be able to (possibly expected to) perform it, eg. one would not pay a professional bass soloist to sing the verse passages of Magnificat and Nunc dimittis (The Fifth Service) (Thomas Tomkins), rather they would be sung by one of the basses from the choir.
  • Solo Bass - the piece is a solo work for a bass (eg. song for bass and piano) or is a large work that contains a movement that is to be sung by a solo bass and accompaniment (eg. aria from an oratorio) or is a work which requires chorus, accompaniment and soloist(s) (eg. Missa Brevis in G major, KV 49 (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) where there are solo passages for bass which are unlikely to be performed with a member of the choir singing the solo).
Now I know that the final part of my second point is a bit dodgy - sometimes members of the chorus do sing the solo parts, particularly if the work or part of it is being performed liturgically. However, it seems to me that it should be categorised as though it was a period performance (as far as we know).
The bigger issue of Solo SATB vs. Solo Soprano, Solo Alto, Solo Tenor & Solo Bass is much more complicated and I agree that we may have overcomplicated things when these categories were created. Perhaps it would be best to reserve the combined categories (Solo SATB etc.) for works which are just that - a duet, trio, quartet, etc. and not for larger works that contain a number of arias for each soloist but never more than one in a particular movement... this is tricky. --Bobnotts talk 12:14, 9 January 2010 (UTC)