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How Low Can You Go
August 20, 2012 12:19 PM   Subscribe

Decca's international search for the lowest singing voice out there - specifically, a voice that can sing Low E, three octaves below middle C - has been won by Tim Storms (warning, auto starts some sound). Storms is Guinness record holder of Lowest human voice and widest vocal range for male.

Storms' normal 'talking' voice can be heard here in an interview with BBC radio. His singing voice can be heard here in a recording of 'That Lonesome Road' and here is a recording of him singing 8 hertz

The competition was organised so as to find a singer who could sing the lowest note in a new choral work 'De Profundis' by Paul Mealor, who is best known as one of the composers featured in the church service of a recent Royal Wedding.
posted by Megami (50 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Finally, I know who to cast in my Leonard Cohen opera.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:20 PM on August 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


The "good morning!" at 0:56 of this link does not disappoint.
posted by theodolite at 12:22 PM on August 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


a low E - an extremely low note three octaves below middle 'C'

The note 3 octaves below middle C is a C, not an E. I think they mean the E at about 40 hz - the E string of a bass guitar
posted by thelonius at 12:23 PM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I know it's unfair, and it was 50 years ago, but best of luck with the talent search, Decca.
posted by kurumi at 12:30 PM on August 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Every time I try my chin gets caught in my collar.
posted by squalor at 12:34 PM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe this'll finally turn Decca's luck around after failing to sign the Beatles a half-century ago.
posted by item at 12:34 PM on August 20, 2012


It sounds basically like vocal fry to me...
posted by unSane at 12:35 PM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


a low E - an extremely low note three octaves below middle 'C'

It's close enough. A low E (E1) 41.203Hz -- basically, it's the E below the traditional vocal Low C (C2) at 65.406Hz, which was the traditional dividing line between basso and bass-baritone singers. Basso singers could sing a low C easily, bass-baritones could not.

And, yes, while it's not *quite* three octaves below middle C, it's only three semitones away -- three octaves below middle C (C1) is 32.702Hz.
posted by eriko at 12:37 PM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


This guy can probably talk to elephants.
posted by tommasz at 12:38 PM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Finally, I know who to cast as Caiaphas in my gospel-based rock opera.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:46 PM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nobody knows the trouble I've seen...
posted by Cash4Lead at 12:46 PM on August 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Another one of those links that I don't even need to check the destination of. Well played Cash4Lead.
posted by howfar at 12:55 PM on August 20, 2012


Very cool link! and theodolite, excellent catch...that gave me my first really good laugh all day.
posted by luciernaga at 12:56 PM on August 20, 2012


"auto starts some sound"

That's a truncated version of the old THX audio trademark. Sort of a digital god chord (with stuff).
posted by clvrmnky at 1:17 PM on August 20, 2012


That's a truncated version of the old THX audio trademark. Sort of a digital god chord (with stuff).

It's called "Deep Note" and you can read how it was created here.
posted by bpm140 at 1:41 PM on August 20, 2012


This is amazing. I am a tenor and I can barely sing the C one octave below Middle C.
posted by jph at 1:44 PM on August 20, 2012


brown note -- note so low, it allegedly makes you soil yourself.
posted by crunchland at 1:48 PM on August 20, 2012


The disco dump. Debunked on Mythbusters.
posted by thelonius at 1:56 PM on August 20, 2012


brown note -- note so low, it allegedly makes you soil yourself.

Allegedly? It was discovered by Cartman.
posted by Mojojojo at 2:05 PM on August 20, 2012


I thought you could use 'three octaves below' the same way you'd say 'three blocks away' - it still works if you're a couple houses plus or minus?
posted by jacalata at 2:07 PM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sadly very ignorant re: music terminology but this is fucking awesome. And timely for me as well... on a trip this weekend I heard a country song I hadn't thought of in a long, long time that I've always appreciated for the man's vocal range. And I was wondering just how deep the note he hits in it was.

For the record the song is Would You Go With Me by Josh Turner (he hits the lowest note around 3:10). Apparently that's an Eb2 and he has a vocal range of 3 full octaves? Damn.

So yeah, listening to this guy is even more amazing. Thanks so much for the post. It's a question I didn't have but I'm glad I know the answer to now.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 2:10 PM on August 20, 2012


As an aside, the BBC radio 4 audio player volume goes to 11.
posted by cmoj at 2:10 PM on August 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I thought you could use 'three octaves below' the same way you'd say 'three blocks away'

Sort of, I guess....but I for one was at first unsure if they meant the E above that low C, or the E below it
posted by thelonius at 2:24 PM on August 20, 2012


I sing notes so low they fall into a range of notes having what I call "negative pitch". This means that they *sound* like higher notes, but are actually "lower-than-low." It's hard to explain, but it's kind of like how the arrow of time reverses when you go faster than light. I don't know why no one believes me.
posted by treepour at 2:33 PM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


KOYAAAAAANISQATSIIIIIIII
posted by en forme de poire at 3:04 PM on August 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


For real though, amazing. I am such a faker bass in comparison.

More basso profundo.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:05 PM on August 20, 2012


I collect wonderful bass singers. It's a thing for me.

Here's Thurl Ravenscroft (voice of Tony the Tiger, singer of the Grinch Song) hitting a crazy low note at the end of "Asleep in the Deep" ("many brave hearts....") [mp3 link]

There's the delightful Richard "Bob" Greene of The Bobs (here he is in 1981, singing "Fall into the Gap" at the end of this commercial) who does bass for The Bobs (here's a good one) and when he sings lead, woah. here you go.
posted by jscott at 3:08 PM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Achieved with relaxation, hot buttered herbal tea, and hog tranquilizers.
posted by sourwookie at 3:21 PM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Another interview with him, including video and a demo: Low E bass singer found for choral work
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:48 PM on August 20, 2012


You know how when you listen to Barry White it, erm, er, well, you know... well this guy talking did that too.

"I appreciate that." Wow.
posted by marienbad at 3:59 PM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is as good a time as any to share one of "My Favorite Things."
posted by dhens at 4:39 PM on August 20, 2012


Am I missing something or does he totally not talk like that in the 8hz clip as compared to the BBC audio?
posted by cmoj at 4:57 PM on August 20, 2012


One thing that's not obvious is that singing well at the bottom of your range is really flippin' hard. People are more familiar with topping out and not being able to hit high notes, but bottoming out is tough as well, since your voice just... disappears. Being able to get down into vocal fry territory and still have some character and melody...well, wow. I can get down to Bb below middle C but I need to go and lie down afterwards.
posted by unSane at 5:16 PM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Michael: "I sing so well, I should sing solo."
José: "Si. So low we can't hear you!"

Alltogether! In the tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki room... (repeat until dead)
posted by ShutterBun at 5:54 PM on August 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Mmmm-mmmmmm-mmmmm
posted by arveale at 6:14 PM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


It doesn't auto-start sound for me. (Or maybe it does and I just can't hear it because it's so low?)
posted by madcaptenor at 6:56 PM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


And here I would have thought the winner would be Trudy Kockenlocker.
 
posted by Herodios at 7:18 PM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it possible to record and play back a mechanically produced 8 Hz tone? Is it the same as 480 bpm?
posted by Jode at 7:39 PM on August 20, 2012


Great, now I'm pregnant.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:41 PM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Great, now I'm pregnant.

None of those kids look like me!
 
posted by Herodios at 7:50 PM on August 20, 2012


Is it possible to record and play back a mechanically produced 8 Hz tone? Is it the same as 480 bpm?

It's possible to record and play it back (or synthesize it), but you won't hear anything. Your woofers would be vibrating, but it would sound more or less like "waving your hand as fast as possible" (i.e. inaudible)

It's not quite the same as a 480bpm drum track, since the voice would be producing (more or less) sine waves, whereas a drum track would simply be looping higher frequency (audible) sounds 8 times per second.

Kinda like when you say "aaah" and make your voice get lower and lower, and eventually it sounds like a motorcycle going "kuh-kuh-kuh-kuh-kuh" (or however you would describe that sound) Although you might be creating 8 "kuhs" per second, it's not truly your voice you're hearing, it's just your vocal chords or epiglottis or whatnot slapping around in your throat. That's what they mean by "vocal fry." Kinda like resting your finger against a woofer playing an 8hz tone, sure you'll hear "tap-tap-tap-tap" but it's not the tone you're hearing, but an artifact.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:43 AM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't even hear anything when he hits the lower notes. It's just like *rumble rumble*.
posted by simplethings at 1:58 AM on August 21, 2012


At some point this stops sounding like music and sounds like a walrus' indigestion from eating Barry White in one sitting.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:05 AM on August 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


What most people don't realize is that Metafilter itself has auto-play audio of Tim singing 8hz on every single page.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:57 AM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is as good a time as any to share one of "My Favorite Things."

Christ, she sounds like the silly end of a theremin. In a good way, I mean.
posted by spielzebub at 6:17 AM on August 21, 2012


If I'm in good voice I can reliably sing the G above this guy's E, and I'm normally classified as baritone, not bass (and can reasonably pass for a tenor in a pinch ). But I've known at least half a dozen other singers who can hit that E, with vibrato included, including both country singers and Russian Orthodox choral singers, so I'm not convinced this is as rare as all that.

In fact I'm not yet convinced there isn't a recording of Jim Reeves hitting that low E. I'll keep looking.
posted by spitbull at 6:32 AM on August 21, 2012


Here's the great gospel singer J. D. Summers (probably the deepest voice in the genre) with Elvis Presley doing Kris Kristofferson's "Why Me, Lord?" Recording is terrible and sort of a messy performance, but the voice, the voice.

Don't blow your speakers.
posted by spitbull at 6:37 AM on August 21, 2012


Surprisingly little J. D. Summer (sorry, it's not "Summers," my mistake above) on YouTube, but here's J. D. with The Stamps doing "In This Old House."
posted by spitbull at 6:39 AM on August 21, 2012


More J.D. Sumner though to be honest, he does seem to be "struggling" a bit more than Storms on the lowest notes (possibly due to the quality of the recording)

But...vibrato? The guy sounds on the verge of belching at times.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:22 AM on August 22, 2012


And just to add to the "that's gotta be bullshit" file, from Storm's wikipedia entry:

"Updated: 30 March 2012, Tim Storms reclaimed the record for the Lowest Note Produced by a Human. The new record is G-7, or .189Hz (point 189 Hertz)."

Folks, that means his vocal chords were flapping ONCE every five seconds. Anyone else have a slightly hard time believing this?
posted by ShutterBun at 6:27 AM on August 22, 2012


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