The hunt is on to find a singer with a seriously low range to record a new composition.

Decca has launched an international talent quest in the hopes of discovering the lowest-voiced singer in the world.

The classical label was set to record a new album of works by Welsh choral composer Paul Mealor, whose radiantly beautiful motet Ubi caritas was commissioned by Prince William and Kate Middleton and premiered at the royal wedding last year.

But there’s a minor hitch: he’s written a choral work, De Profundis, that features the lowest note ever notated for the human voice. The offending E resides almost three octaves below Middle C in the nether regions of a standard piano keyboard, 41 Hertz to be exact.

Basses wanting to give their vocal cords a workout in the competition may be daunted by the fact that the E is six notes below the lowest ever written for a choral piece (a pesky B-flat from Rachmanivov’s Vespers) and a whole tone lower than the Guinness World Record-holding F-sharp.  

It is thought that this pitch has never been voiced in the history of Western music – Decca may have to import a Mongolian throat-singer if the recording is to go ahead without revisions to the piece. 

 

It’s an entirely appropriate – if somewhat literal – musical response to the liturgical De Profundis text, Mealor explains. “My setting of De Profundis (“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord”) calls for a rich and powerful voice; a voice that can not only touch the heart with its sincerity and truth, but also make every fabric of the human body resonate as it plunges into the very lowest parts of the vocal spectrum.”

Singers are invited to take part in the How Low Can You Go? How Deep Can You Sing? competition by submitting a demo to the website. Entries will be judged by Mealor and Decca producer Anna Barry, who specialises in Russian choral and vocal music.

The competition closes February 24, 2012 and the recording is set for international release in April, so if you want to take part you’d better get on with those warm-ups… Or take up smoking.