Four Main Parts of Gospel Music

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    Tenor

    • This is the highest register in the male singing range. Typically the tenor or tenors, depending on the type and size of the choir, will sing in a falsetto voice. This is achieved by the contraction of the vocal chords to create an unnaturally high pitched sound. Using falsetto, the tenor can harmonize above the lead to create a rich and deep upper register sound.

    Lead

    • The lead is the only part of Gospel music that isn't named for a register. Rather, it is named for its function. The lead singer in a Gospel ensemble is the one who performs the main melody, supported by the other singers. It is his job to deliver the most emotive elements of a Gospel performance, typically by employing a very expressive singing style incorporating vocal trills, vibrato and rapid note changes. In a Gospel ensemble, there is only one lead. The remaining singers provide ensemble accompaniment.

    Baritone

    • Baritone singers typically form a "bridge" between the very low bass notes and the very high tenor notes. Rarely are the baritones the star of a Gospel ensemble, but their importance cannot be overstated. Baritone parts are typically written as support for the other singers and therefore the choice of notes may not follow the natural pattern of the melody. For this reason, the baritone part is the most technically difficult to execute because of the atypical melodic and harmonic structure. It is also the most difficult to discern by ear, meaning the baritone may often be performing the most challenging of vocal parts without much regard from the audience.

    Bass

    • The bass is the lowest register in the Gospel ensemble. It has a distinctively rich, warm and "booming" sound. In some forms of Gospel, there is no bass element. The bass is what distinguishes the Gospel quartet and full ensemble from other, smaller forms of the Gospel choir. In Southern Gospel, the bass is a distinguishing characteristic, often used as a solo voice.

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