Turn up the Bass!

A couple of weeks ago I asked a question in the guitar community, “What are the main reasons for being a bass player?”

8tracks.com

8tracks.com

I received a variety of responses ranging from the humorous, to the practical, to the soulful. To better understand the reasons, I listened to various genres like Jazz, Funk, Hip-Hop, Blues, Latin, Reggae, Metal, and Rock, mainly to pick out the bass lines. I have yet to check out Classical.

Discussion in Guitar Community

Discussion in Jazz Music Community

It wasn’t hard for me to identify the low and heavy pitches, but I had to focus on the different styles of playing the bass. The more I listened, the more I found myself with a deep appreciation for bassists.

The bass is a member of the rhythm section. The bassist locks in with the drummer to create a “groovy,” or “head-bouncing,” or “foot-tapping,” or “swaying side-to-side” rhythm. The bass player not only provides the rhythm, but also lays down the harmony. In fact, he or she has two important functions for a song.

The bass is one of the easiest instruments to learn, with the most common being 4 strings (E, A, D, and G), yet it can also be the hardest to master. The bass is versatile. You can play the root notes, to chords, to arpeggios. Or, you can use diverse styles like slap, pop, palm-muting, double thump, two-handed tapping. Those walking bass lines or complex riffs, while linking the harmony to the rhythm, as well as, improvising is difficult. A good bassist just makes it look so easy.

I notice that bassists are often overlooked compared to the lead guitarist or drummer (another member of the rhythm section). But a solo performance makes a profound impact, whether it’s a fast and syncopated rhythm or an intricate and funky sound.

Of course their frequent spot on the side near the drummer, instead of center stage, doesn’t mean they’re not a star. Some bassists are lead singers in a band, such as Paul McCartney, Roger Waters, Geddy Lee, Sting (who are great songwriters). Some are notable for their craft like Charles Mingus, John Entwistle, Cliff Burton, John Paul Jones, Bootsy Collins, Flea. The solo artists who inspire like Jaco Pastorius, Victor Wooten, Michael Manring. Let’s not forget the beauties such as Carol Kaye, Kim Deal, Meshell Ndegeocello, Kim Gordon, Esperanza Spalding. I’m missing so many other honorable mentions but I don’t want to sound long-winded.

So why do this short research on bass players. I needed to brainstorm.

I need some type of inspiration to write about my favorite one (he’s fictional). I want to make him awesome, just like a bassist must play perfectly for the song’s progression. I also want him to impress, just like a powerful buildup of a bass line that you can feel. Most of all, I want my character adored since I’m shining the spotlight on him.

Bassists will always be in demand, simply because they are one of a kind.

webstrings.com

webstrings.com

Thank you to everyone in the music community for giving me your insightful feedback. For those initially reading my follow-up post, list your top reasons or favorite bass players and I’ll check them out.

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About Lisa Malabanan

I am a graduate of Rutgers College of Nursing and work as a Professional Registered Nurse in the field of Perinatology. I currently live in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania with my husband and two children. At the age of six, I discovered piano and classical music. A variety of music genres influenced my life through the years, and I’m passing on a love of the arts to my daughter and son. Reading fiction is my escape from the chaos and stress of a demanding yet rewarding profession. For me, writing transcends the diversion of a good book. The experience is like commuting on a New York City subway; diverse people enter and exit the scene, sometimes delays and derailment occur during creativity, and a train of thought is missed or passed over on occasion. In the end, an arrival at my destination is what I hope to accomplish, and I invite readers to take that ride with me. View all posts by Lisa Malabanan

8 responses to “Turn up the Bass!

  • Brian Anthony Hardie (Portland, Oregon)

    I apologize for my messy typing. I did that at like, 5 am. Thanks for the reply. I really appreciate your insight. I want to start a zine for bass players.

    Like

  • Brian Anthony Hardie (Portland, Oregon)

    Reblogged this on Brian Anthony Hardie? and commented:
    Dont ever underestimate how amazing bass really is. I have played for almost 20 years, have played, recorded, toured, taught, become a life long student, and seduced in bass cleft, I would I have arrived back to serious. But, like, times a million. This blog is going to contain a lot more content regarding bassists, theory, and more bass stuff. For the last few years I have been playing and recording and experimenting and learning other instruments because I was in a funk of none at all, and needed my ears to be dosed with some to be reminded that I was wasting time in life and had conformed to what other musicians said I should be playing, how I should be playing, what I should be playing, why, where, when, because bass was just the ‘oh whatever’ instrument. Fuck that, no more of that business. I could be so much further a long in life if I had just kept doing what I was doing, by myself, on that one instrument, because I am fucking really good. I have never said that or truly believed it because my skill level was super high but still because of there being almost a disgust with my playing music instead of varsity football, I have associated it with doing something wrong, and fuck that shit, I’m really fucking good. And I’m going to show it off now, because I deserve it. I am setting a new standard and appreciation in Bass Cleft. A way of looking at it that is based off of what I will call the Ten Elements of Beauty For The Real Bassist. And it has nothing to do with notes and super fastness, it has to do with soul, art, tone, expression, and other themes that instructors need to be teaching but aren’t. I would rather be a god on one thing rather than just okay on everything. I have recently joined up with my best friend Andy Leadham, who I grew up with playing music. We have been playing the last couple weeks and will be recording this summer. We were both raised with lots of jazz theory and playing, with prog rock and metal. I was in love with and singing a long to Dream Theater at the age of 8. I love Kevin Moore’s style. It sucked they lost him. Bassist John Myung is one of those just crazy super good and busy all over the fret board, he has never really been a fav of mine, he seems to me so much like a studio musician. The album “Awake” is not just the band showing off, there is feeling and flavor in their technique. All through out it. I used to be embarrassed loving them growing up. That was so stupid of me. Anyways, no more of this identifying myself as ‘interdisciplinary artist’. fucking please. I’m a Bassist, and a fucking Poet. Solid. You’re goddamn right.

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    • Lisa Malabanan

      We all feel the pressure of conforming to society’s “norm.” But I feel that music is a universal language and there’s always somebody out there that will understand you and share the same views. Out of all the comments on this particular question, all the musicians with a Jazz background or love Jazz had the most insightful feedback and rightfully so. After all, the double bass was very vital in the Jazz era. I think it’s awesome that you have such a passion for music, so don’t lose it. Keep on doing what you feel and follow your dreams. Good luck with everything and thanks for re-blogging.

      Like

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