Auditioning for a part is always a trying time. You want to sound your best to make sure you create a good impression. One of the most important choices you have to make is to select the right song to sing at an audition. And finding the best audition songs for basses is never easy.
- The Foundation
- What Is Your Range?
- The Song You Choose
- More Than One Song Is Always A Good Idea
- Swing Low, Sweet Chariot – Sam Cooke
- Edelweiss – Theodore Bikel from “The Sound of Music”
- If I Were A Rich Man – Topol from “Fiddler On The Roof”
- Land Of My Fathers – Paul Robeson
- It Ain’t Necessarily So – Cab Calloway from “Porgy & Bess”
- Some Enchanted Evening – “South Pacific”
- Sixteen Tons – Tennessee Ernie Ford
- Pilate’s Dream – “Jesus Christ Superstar”
- Sunrise, Sunset – “Fiddler On The Roof”
- Summertime – “Porgy & Bess”
- Ol’ Man River – Paul Robeson from “Show Boat”
- Your Audition
- Looking for Songs to Sing?
- Best Audition Songs for Basses – Final Thoughts
The bass parts, be they in an orchestra, rock band, or a choir, are the very foundation of the sound. Take them away if you don’t believe me, and have a listen. It’s empty and lifeless.
Those auditioning you for the part will look to see if you can do that job. Be that role in a choir or as a solo singer for a particular song. They have to know that they can rely on you to give them that foundation.
What Is Your Range?
You should be able to sing between E2 to E4. Although, it is not uncommon for some basses to sing C2 to G4. Bass is the lowest vocal range; the next up is Baritone, which is typically from A2 to A4, although some baritones can go down to F2.
Therefore, the top of the Bass range and the lower of the Baritone can overlap. So, if you are a Baritone that can reach those low notes comfortably, it is not unrealistic to try an audition song for bass parts.
The Song You Choose
Without wishing to put too fine a point on it, the song could make you or break you. There are some considerations when looking for the best audition songs for basses.
- Pick a song that is comfortably within your singing range.
- Know the words of the song thoroughly.
- Make sure you are familiar with the context and what the song means.
- Be prepared to demonstrate any acting skills within the song you might need, but don’t overdo it.
- Do not pick a song that you think others may also use for the same audition.
This last point is something worth considering. Those who are auditioning you could well be listening to dozens of people over a day or two. This can have an effect if you choose a song that others have also used.
They may quietly think, “oh no- not again.” That doesn’t give you a good start, even if you do a good job of it.
More Than One Song Is Always A Good Idea
In my opinion, it will be a good idea to turn up at the audition with at least two choices fully prepared. That way, if a last-minute change is forced upon you, then you will be prepared. And, that could be that the person before you sings what you had chosen.
Having a ‘reserve’ is a good idea. And, it could also be needed if they narrow the choices down and ask you to sing something different for a second look at you. So let’s move on and look at some of the best audition songs for the Bass range.
As we go through this list, you will come across quite a few songs with African-American links. This is the first one. “Swing Low” is a cultural spiritual and is also a Christian hymn.
Its date of composition has long since been lost in the mists of time. But it is well-known to have its roots in African-American traditions.
The words were first written down around the mid-1870s, and the first recording was probably in 1909 by the singers at Fisk University.
The Theme is Important
This is one of those songs where singing is probably not enough; as you sing the words, you also have to feel them. And then be able to transfer that feeling to those watching you.
The chariot refers to The Old Testament Prophet Elijah’s ascension to heaven by chariot. And it’s “coming to carry him home.”
It is stylized like many other spirituals and uses the words to give powerfully created images that have a very simple poetic message. Plenty of scope makes it a great audition song for a strong bass voice that can produce some empathy with the message of the song.
Born in Vienna, Austria, Theodore Bikel was a singer, actor, musician, and fervent Jewish nationalist. As such, he often got himself into a rather unwanted spotlight. He was thought of as a great singer in his day and possessed a powerful voice.
He had been seen in plenty of work before. But, it was his playing of the role of Tevye in “Fiddler On The Roof” that brought him to many people’s attention.
This song, of course, needs no introduction. But it is a different presentation of the much-loved piece of Austrian folklore. This could be an interesting choice and maybe one that others may not consider.
So while we are on the subject of “Fiddler on The Roof,” let’s include this song. Certainly, a timeless favorite performed beautifully by Topol; it is a song that can be given a semi-comedic slant if you choose.
Taken from the 1964 musical and later the 1971 film, it is an interesting song that portrays much of Jewish culture. Chaim Topol plays the main character, Tevye, who was a milkman.
In this song…
He dreams how much different his life would be if he were rich. He asks his god, “if it were to be so terrible if he were rich?” Asking for a favor.
This is one of those Bass range audition songs I mentioned earlier that will allow you to utilize some acting skills. Maybe also some simple dance skills if you were so inclined. It is a song that some may try, but being what it is, it is worth some consideration.
Some songs carry an impact wider than “just” songs from musicals. This is one of those songs. “Land of My Fathers,” or should we say in Welsh, “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau,” is one of those. It was written by a father and son team, Evan and James James, in 1856.
To a Welshman, it is a national anthem and a symbol of everything that is Welsh. When it is sung by bass-baritone Bryn Terfel, that is what it is. To a Welsh audience, it is emotional and full of sentiment.
You can see and hear what it means to them when it is sung before Rugby Internationals. Maybe, to the average person, it is not as powerful as the New Zealand ‘Haka’. But it is powerful and stirring even to us English.
Two Sides To This One
Take an emotive song and put it in the hands of one of the great bass singers the world has ever seen. What do you get? Something quite different emotionally, but it is still very special and powerful and ideal if you want to make a big impression vocally at an audition.
It doesn’t take too long when discussing audition songs for bass singers that you turn to “Porgy & Bess.” Gershwin’s masterpiece tells a story that is hard to believe that people could be so cruel. But that’s the history of us. And Gershwin’s music packs a punch with those sentiments not hidden away.
You could write a book about the hidden sentiments and genius of George and Ira’s writing in this song. Heavily criticized by some because it casts doubt on the literal truth of the Bible. Something that would have greater tenure today. But, in 1935, you were treading on dangerous ground.
In the opera, the song is sung by a drug dealer, which was another reason for criticism. But the phrasing of the opening lines is the same as the blessing at the opening of the Torah. And the triplets he uses are representative of the Jewish prayer mode. Gershwin playing games with us?
As an audition piece?
Approached in the right way, it is a great bass vocal song to sing at an audition. Plenty of deep emotive notes, with again the opportunity for a bit of personal interpretation and expression.
Cab Calloway’s version is perfect in many respects as it typifies so many things about what the song is about. Your version could be similar, which is why I have attached Cab’s performance.
If I asked you what some consider the greatest song from a musical, what would you answer? Whatever your favorite, I would bet it isn’t’ this one. Yet, this is how it has been described by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. Yes, him of Cats, Evita, Phantom of the Opera, and others of fame.
It is, though, one of the ‘big’ songs from the 1949 show “South Pacific.” It was also described as the best song that Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote. Not sure I would agree with that, but it was important in the production and has remained popular today.
One That Might Slip Under The Radar
In the original production in 1949 on Broadway, it was sung by Operatic bass Ezio Pinza. Again, this is a song that might be overlooked as an option for many. It is one of those songs that we all know but might not be the first you think of.
Therefore, it can slip under the radar for most preparing for the audition. But, being so well-known and appreciated, it is certain to show you in a good light. A great song that has plenty of opportunities to put in a great vocal performance.
There have been a few interesting interpretations of this song. The simple matter is that it is just about a coal miner. It was written by Merle Travis and based on actual events in a coal mine in Kentucky. Travis’s father was a miner, and some of the lines are from letters he wrote.
It has been recorded several times, but the version I remember was the 1956 recording by Frankie Laine. I was very small, but I can remember it because my mum liked him and bought the record.
Once again, a different option and one that most others will not consider. It has some great bass notes and a nice steady rhythm. Just make sure you can get down low enough, and you might have a winner.
A very short piece from this well-known musical by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. It is a short poem put to music. It tells a simple story of a dream Pilate had and the outcome.
Once again, a song that is an unlikely selection for many. It doesn’t offer much in the way of drama or theatrics. But it will allow you to use some personal interpretation in how you perform it.
Back one more time to the 1964 musical “Fiddler On The Roof” for another great song for bass vocalists. This song has something very special. It is very slow, sentimental, and quite mournful in the way it is written. Furthermore, it is almost hypnotic in the way the melody sways around.
It is a song that has been used for many different functions and occasions. But, it is within the context of the show that it has the most meaning.
A song that can capture an audience if sung well, which is what you need to do at your audition. For me, it would be high on the list of the best audition songs for basses that will impress.
Back to “Porgy & Bess” one last time. This song will make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. As the opening song, it sets the tone for what was an immense work with a huge statement. A tale of racial prejudice, slavery, drug addiction, and personal misfortune, it rocked a few boats on its release.
The song is most often sung by a female as it is in the musical. But it can be performed by a male bass voice. Louis Armstrong and Al Green have both made versions.
A deep song in more ways than one. This is written for a deep voice and sounds like it. Certainly a song that is going to impress those that hear you. And because it is usually a female voice, possibly one that may be overlooked.
If you were going to choose just one song to show off a bass voice, then this may well be it. It is one of those songs that leaves a memory, especially when it is sung by Paul Robeson. A master craftsman with anything that requires depth, this song is sure to be one of the big favorites of all time.
It was from the 1927 production of “Showboat.” The music was written by Jerome Kern and the words by Oscar Hammerstein. It is a song that contrasts the lives of African-Americans of the time with the steady flow of the Mississippi River.
The problem with this song is that it may be chosen by others. But, if you get in first, it is certainly a song that will impress.
It is always a stressful thing to have to undertake, and the competition is likely to be competitive. But don’t let that worry you. You are all the same; the difference will be decided by:
- How well you perform your chosen song.
- How well you conduct yourself, convincing those watching they can work with you.
- If you can add something from a theatrical point of view to create the right atmosphere around the song.
- The song you choose.
Looking for Songs to Sing?
We can help with that. Take a look at our handy articles on the Best Audition Songs for Kids, the Best Duet Karaoke Songs, the Best Sing-Along Songs, the Best Songs about Fighting, the Best Songs About Change, and the Best Songs About Dreams for more musical ideas.
You’ll need to listen and sing those songs. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, the Best Headphones for Music, the Best Live Vocal Mics, the Best Wireless Microphones, and the Best Karaoke Microphones you can buy in 2022.
Best Audition Songs for Basses – Final Thoughts
I have made some suggestions, and certainly, if I were auditioning singers, which I have, then these songs would all impress me. Go out there and do your very best. If that proves to be not good enough, then so be it. There will be other opportunities. The key is never to give up trying.
Until next time, let yourself be heard.