What pitch does the pianist play for male voice when the score is written in the bass clef.is it that pitch or an octave lower.

  • Do you mean to help the singer while learning, or to accompany a singer in performance?
    – Tim
    Dec 29 '17 at 16:27
  • @Julia, I recommend including a concrete example. Take a photo of the music you're looking at and upload it to your post.
    – jdjazz
    Dec 29 '17 at 19:22

If the music is written for a bass singer, the pitches in bass clef are sung in the same octave as played on the piano. If it's for tenor and written with a treble clef, one drops the octave, though. (If you look close, there's usually a little "8" at the bottom of the treble clef to indicate this.)


The F Clefs consists of Baritone, Bass, and Subbass Clefs. These are designed to allow writing the low register notes easier.

In terms of translating these notes for the vocalist, I say it depends on his voice. Baritone and Bass is typically fitting for most singers with low registers.

However, you can look at your situation differently and find your vocalist's registers first, then write the appropriate clefs and notes for him.

You can refer to wikipedia for some illustrations.

  • A technically correct, but practically useless answer. The F clef CAN be positioned otherwise than in the usual place, indicating that the second line down is F, but never is, except perhaps in fascimilies of antique editions. Aug 18 '18 at 11:02

If you're looking at a real book that is written for the bass instrument, then what you're seeing is the melody as it would be played on an upright/electric bass. Those notes will fit in the vocal range of a bass singer. So if your singer has a bass vocal range, then you don't need to move the melody up an octave from where it's written. If your singer is has a baritone vocal range, then the song will likely be a little bit of a stretch as written. For a tenor or an alto singer, you would definitely need to move the written melody up an octave to place it in their vocal range.

As a side note, the note that is heard from an acoustic/electric bass is an octave below the pitch that is written on the bass clef. It would be a very different answer if you asked, "what pitch does the pianist need to play when the score is written in bass clef in order to match the note heard from an upright/electric bass?" In this case, the pianist would need to transpose down an octave. However, that only applies for the bass instrument and not for a bass vocalist.

  • @LaurencePayne, I don't disagree with that, and I don't think my answer says anything that contradicts your comment. The first sentence is not referring to where the notes will sound on an upright/electric bass. It's referring to what the bassist reads. Note that, if the question instead asked what the piano should play to match an actual upright bass (and not a bass vocalist), then the bit you've added would be very relevant.
    – jdjazz
    Aug 18 '18 at 18:42
  • Fair enough. Comment deleted. Aug 18 '18 at 20:38
  • @LaurencePayne, I've added a bit at the end to clarify. It's a good point you make, and someone who is confused about the distinction will benefit from that clarification.
    – jdjazz
    Aug 19 '18 at 18:08

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