1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Role of Musicians

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by b3nd3r, Oct 31, 2000.

  1. Im writting a report for my university anthropology class. The paper is on the role of Musicians in music. I would like to know what you think the role of musicians are related to ; Bass Players, Guitarists both lead and rythm, drummers, and what ever other types you feel relevant to mention. I would like to know what you think their specific role is as well as what the common personality traits you associate with each type of musician. For example lead guitarists are usualy quite whiny. Thats been my experience at least.
    Any help you guys can give me would be much appreciated.
  2. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    my wife did a study on gender roles within the heavy metal world. it was fascinating. good luck with yours. post it here when you're done.
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Before the computer age, the role of musicians was to produce the music. Now an ordinary computer geek can do it, so I'm a little unsure of what the role of musicians is these days. Hope that helps.
  4. I think your getting me confused. I not so much asking what the role of musicians is. we all know that our role is to make music. What I'm asking is what the roles of spefic musicians are and what personality traits seem common to spefic types of musicians. we bass players usually have the most interesting personalities. Flea and Les are good example of this. so is Victor Wooten for that matter. Our role traditionaly i suppose has been to fill the gap between the drums and guitars. There is much more to it than this I know. this is why im asking for all of you help. Even if its just links to articles that could help me.
  5. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    Wouldn't that be "stereotyping"? Check out the thread in OffTopic about Stereotyping. :)
  6. im afraid that In alot of cases anth presents stereotypes. I'm not trying to write a report saying that this is the way it is and thats that. Im just trying to give an understanding of commonalities. there will always be descrepencies no matter what you look at. study moroccan civilization and you will come away with an understanding of what they are bassically all about. yet there will be people in morocco who dont fit this general description.
  7. Musicians are servants like a butler or maid. When people wan't to cellibrate the hire us the same way they would hire a some one to provide the food. The singer or entertainer is more important than us and stands in front while we bass players bring up the rear. Only among ourselfs do we become more important. Then you can be a dope addict and be highly regarded, if you can play good.
  8. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Alrighty then.

    Lead guitarist - does the lead singer.

    Bass Player - leads the band

    Drummer - shows up late, if at all, adding an element of tension to the term "gig"

    Rhythm guitarist - dunno

    Other rhythm guitarist - dunno

    Keyboardist - prima donna, like Paul Schaeffer

    Sound man - checks mics, says "sssssibilance"

    Lead singer - resists lead guitarist, but not for long

    Hope that helps.
  9. Well thanks alot for you help guys. Due to time constraints I had to cut back and just do an anthropological view of bass players. I'll post the rough draft. some of you will probably criticize me for what I have to say but remember this is a rough draft I wrote in an hour with only about 2 hours research. If you have any comments on it that you think could help please tell me. I'd be more than happy to make revisions if your comments are helpfull.

    well with out any further waiting here it is. I must warn you though you may want to get some coffe or a 6 pack.

    An Anthropological view of bass players

    Its Friday night and you've just arrived at the bar. You've had a few drinks and the band is just starting to play. Something about them , about their playing , captivates you. You start tapping your foot to some unknown force. Then you start to dance , moving to something you can't describe you just move. You move to the groove. But where is this groove coming from? The guitarist is trilling off high notes, the drummer is just making the beat, the vocalist isn't doing anything out of the ordinary, and they keyboardist isn't even playing yet. Then it strikes you, you've missed someone, he's in the back close to the drums. Is that a guitar he's playing? No it can't be you tell yourself it only has four strings , and its to big. What is it then? He's the bass player you realize suddenly. And he's the one making you dance. Its his groove your following. Bass players often go unnoticed and unacknowledged for their contributions to music but they do play a vital role.

    The tradition role of a bass player is to play in the rhythm section. They bridge the percussive elements of the drums and the melodic elements of the guitars and other treble clef instruments. Bass players are also keep time along with the drummer. All the other musicians rely on the Bass to keep in time.

    Bass players also keep all musicians in key. When speaking in musical terms a key is a specific scale (set of musical notes) that the song centers around. The bass player keeps playing the key notes of the scale laying down the base of the song. This allows the other musicians to go off on their own improvisational tangents without losing the feel of the song. ? Unknown to most people though this task of keeping key gives a bass player incredible power over a group of musicians even if the musicians themselves don't realize it. This power is apparent primarily in improvisational situations. When musicians are improvising the bass player has to ability to shape the music. He has control over what chord progressions are used and in many cases the style of music itself that is being played. If a bass player plays a certain notes over the chord being played he can give a song a Spanish feel or a blues feel.

    The Grateful Dead are a prime example of this. When you mention the name of this band there are various things that come to mind ; hippies, drugs, tie die , and of course Jerry Garcia the lead guitarist. Most people when talking about The Grateful Dead center their conversations around this lead singer and view him as the brains of the band. This however is not true. Phil Lesh the bass player of this band was the brains behind much of the music. With his bass playing he could control where the music went , with great skill , if he chose to.

    Apart from these basic functions the role of the bass is incredibly varied depending on what kind of music you examine. In most Blues the bass plays a very simple role. In Jazz the bass usually plays a much more dominant role with its occasional solo's. Funk is perhaps one of the key example of Bass playing at its best. In Funk most of the music centers around the dominant bass lines which can often be quite intricate. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are example of this. The bass lines in their music are quite melodic and interesting. Rock and roll music tends to vary in this respect. For the most part Rock bass lines are quite simple but there are a number of bands known for interesting lines.
    During concerts bass players are usually not the center of attention. For the most part during a concert the Lead guitarist and the lead singer are the center of attention near the front of the stage. While this is going on the bass players usually lay back near the drum set and just play their part. Their are extreme exceptions though. For the most part when bassist do decide to put on a show they go to extremes. Flea , the bassists for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, goes to these extremes. When he plays he puts on a wild performance running and jumping around stage, often in the nude, while still playing his bass.

    Most non musicians can't always tell the bass apart from the rest of the instrumentation, often they only notice things such as guitars or the vocals. However when the bass is taken away people always notice. They may not always be able to put it into words but they know that something is wrong, that something is missing. Without the bass in a song to help support the groove a song often will feel quite empty.

    Personality wise bass players are always much more interesting than most other musicians. The bass is not an instrument that most people will choose and as a result the people that do choose the bass often have a lot of similarities in their personalities. Generally bass players are all quite eccentric. By this I mean that they are usually all quite interesting people with interesting and quirky senses of humor. An example of the humor often joked about would be about the strings on the bass itself. The strings on a bass go in the following order EADG, G being the smallest string. The G often breaks and as a result many off color jokes are made about this. Another example would be the bass player for the band Moxy Fruvous who is well known for his taste in ugly Hawaiin shirts. His so well known for this in fact that there are numerous websites on the Internet dedicated just to his taste in shirts and nothing else.

    Bass players are also generally the most responsible member of a band. They usually arrive ahead of time and are always ready to go. Most bass players usually come quite prepared as well. They bring things like extra strings, ear plugs, and anything else they think that they might need or that another band member could need. Jaco Pastorius is perhaps one of the best examples and in some cases the worst example of a being a responsible person. While he didn't take very good care of himself and this ultimately led to his death there are reasons for this. He would do anything to take care of his family. Often in order to save money he would instead of staying in a hotel sleep on a beach and send that money to his family.

    As you can see Bass players present a unique and interesting sub-culture onto themselves. Bass players are unique among musicians. While ,often, they go unnoticed for their efforts by the general public they don't mind. Their roles are well defined and they acknowledge each others efforts in their community. They are the back bone of most music.

    Well for anyone that actually made it the whole way through the essay thank you very much for reading it.
  10. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    If it were my paper, I would've just turned in Munjibunga's post, and if your teacher knew the first thing about music, you would've gotten an A! Especially the part about the lead singer :D :D :D :D
  11. furtim


    Dec 12, 1999
    Boston, MA, USA
    Nice job, Bender. One little suggestion, though. Try to write without contractions, since this is kind of a formal paper (I assume). That tends to make it look better. Contractions are usually just cover for sloppy writing! You'll improve if you stop using them. =)
  12. Cornbread


    Jun 20, 2000
    Lawrence, Ma
    There are a lot of other grammatical mistakes you should correct. Also, you should stay on topic more and not mention bassists' names if you are not going to explain who they are. You can't assume your teacher knows who Jaco is.
    my .02 dollars
  13. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    "The G often breaks and as a result many off color jokes are made about this"

    I'm not sure why, but I found this line to be hilariously funny...:D
    BTW...I've never broken a G string, nor made an off-color joke about one being broken....:)
  14. I`m aware that there are grammatical mistakes. I`ve caught most of them and fixed them. it was just my rough draft that I posted. Most essays I write for university are quite formal but we`re allowd some creative liberties in anthropology. the teacher doesnt mind as long as we do write a solid and good essay

Share This Page