Tim Storms Holds Record For Lowest Sung Note

Tim Storms has broken the world record twice for the lowest sung note ever recorded. He recently won a competition to sing a low E, more than two octaves below middle C, on a new album by composer Paul Mealor, called, Tranquility: Voices of Deep Calm with the St. Petersburg Chamber Choir.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, we're about to hit a new low. The London-based record label Decca held a competition earlier this year. The label was looking for someone who could sing an incredibly low note: the low E.

TIM STORMS: (Singing) E.

GREENE: They found their man. This is Tim Storms, who won the competition. You can hear why. And he will now sing the note in a new piece by the Welsh composer Paul Mealor called "De Profundis." Tim Storms is an American singer who usually performs in Branson, Missouri. We reached him in London this morning and asked how long he's had this talent.

When did you first realize that you could sing this low? I mean, did you hit puberty as a kid, and then all of a sudden you're, like, wow, I have something going on here?

(LAUGHTER)

STORMS: Actually, I didn't go through that adolescent, voice-changing phase. My voice was always just kind of low, even as a little kid. I was about eight years old when I began listening to this Christian a cappella music group. And I kind of gravitated toward the bass part. I learned that I could sing right along with it, you know. And then by the time I was in the eighth grade, I just got really serious about singing all vocal music.

GREENE: And when you're growing up in, you know, the eighth grade, what was the reaction of your friends, other students, to your talent?

STORMS: I remember being in the concert choir in the eighth grade, and there was me and probably two or three other, quote, unquote, "basses." When you're in eighth grade, nobody's really a bass.

(LAUGHTER)

STORMS: But I had a real good rapport with my choir teacher. And I let her know what was comfortable for me. And what was comfortable for me was singing everything an octave lower, because, especially in the eighth grade, the bass parts are quite high, as far as bass goes. And so she would let me sing it an octave lower. And one of the guys beside me would always say: You're singing the wrong note.

GREENE: And you would say, no, it's just a lot lower than you're used to.

STORMS: Right.

GREENE: OK. So you've broken the world record for singing the lowest note ever recorded two times, as I understand it, the Guinness record. And tell us, how do they measure that?

STORMS: They use a frequency analyzer, or vibration tester, as some engineers call it. It has a little microphone hooked up to it, and you just sing into it. And it has to be in a controlled studio environment to be free from any outside frequency interruptions. But you just sing into the little microphone, and it picks up every frequency that you're giving it and tells you exactly how loud you're singing each frequency.

GREENE: And what do they usually use these types of machines for?

STORMS: They usually use them for - to test frequencies in dragster engines - race cars. Or some people use them out in the field, like, to measure elephants communicating with each other.

GREENE: Tim Storms. Most days you can find him in Branson, Missouri, where he sings at the Pierce-Arrow Theater. Thank you so much for talking to us.

STORMS: Oh, it's been a pleasure. Thank you so much.

GREENE: Tim, as I understand it, you do a heck of a version of "Amazing Grace." Can you give it to us before we let you go?

STORMS: Sure. Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMAZING GRACE")

STORMS: (Singing) Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.

GREENE: This is NPR News.

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