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Technically, the lowest-pitched part of any musical work. The word comes from the Latin bassus, meaning “low” or “thick.” In vocal music, a bass is the lowest range of the male voice; it generally extends from low E or F (an octave and a half below Middle C) to Middle C. It’s important to remember that no two people necessarily have the same range, so this is an approximate value.

The term “bass” is also used to identify the lowest-pitched members of many families of musical instruments, such as bass clarinet, bass trombone, bass drum, etc. There are even bass flutes. “Bass guitar” is a correct term for the instrument with strings tuned E, A, D, G – one octave lower than the first four strings of a traditional guitar. However, a “bass violin” is more accurately a “double bass,” with strings tuned two octaves below the violin. The term “bass,” though, has gained general acceptance.

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