In music, a baritone is a male singer whose vocal range falls somewhere between that of a bass and a tenor. A typical baritone's range will extend from around the A a tenth below middle C to the F above middle C.
A high baritone, bordering the tenor range, is sometimes called Baritone-Martin, after the French singer Jean Blaise Martin (1769-1837). The roles of Pelléas in Claude Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande and of Ramiro in Ravel's L'Heure espagnole are written for this type of voice.
The term bass-baritone is sometimes used to mean a singer who has a range just slightly higher than that of a bass. Some famous bass-baritones include Walter Berry and Thomas Quasthoff.
The word "baritone" is often applied to instruments to indicate their range in relation to other instruments of the same group, for instance the baritone saxophone. There is also a brass instrument called the baritone horn; being a member of the saxhorn family it is not closely related to the French horn. It is distinguished from the euphonium by its bore size and shape (the baritone horn has a smaller and more cylindrical bore, the euphonium a more conical one), and is only found in brass bands and wind bands, traditionally alongside euphoniums. It is also possible to get a baritone guitar; this is an electric guitar with an extended scale, so there is more stability when it is detuned. The standard Baritone Guitar tuning is (low to high) BEADF#B.
In barbershop music, the baritone part sings in a similar but somewhat lower range to the lead (singing the melody), but has a specific and specialised role in the formation of the four-part harmony that characterises the style. Because barbershop singers can also be female, there is consequently such a singer (at least in barbershop singing) as a female baritone. The baritone singer is often the one required to support or 'fill' the bass sound (typically by singing the fifth above the bass root). On the other hand, the baritone will occasionally find himself harmonising above the melody, which calls for a tenor-like quality. Because of the nature of barbershop arrangements the baritone part is invariably the most challenging to learn and the hardest to improvise.
Many singers in popular music have been baritones, such as:
Some famous baritones in classical music include:
See also soprano, alto, tenor, bass, timbre
Last updated: 06-02-2005 13:45:45