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The role of bass in modern musique

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by pmaraziti, Apr 13, 2006.

  1. pmaraziti

    pmaraziti Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2006

    Not sure if this is the most proper section to post this, but let me give it a try.

    I'd like to ask you point of view about the role of bass in modern music (pop, rock, modern jazz, funk etc. etc.). I know that if you like we could call the bass the rhythmic instrument of the harmonic section or the harmonic instrument of the rhythmic section m net a bridge between rhythm and harmony. But in your words... what are the key distinctive elements of a successful bass player in modern music ? What a bassist has to do ?

    I have my ideas but sometime I'm in deep doubts and would like to hear others' opinion.

    Thanks a lot in advance, Paolo
  2. Keeping it grooving. Piece the band together.
  3. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    we're there to make everyone else sound better

    we're there to act as the harmonic & rhythmic glue between the drums and guitars/keyboards/other instruments so it sounds like they're paying more attention to each other than they really are :rolleyes:

    and we're there to ENHANCE the effect of the other instruments... by doubling riffs and punching away locked in with the bass drum & snare etc.. we make the other guys & gals in the band sound better

    we're there to outline the fundamental harmonic and rhythmic environment so that when the other guys go off at a tangent, the listener is aware of where 'home' is
  4. BassChuck

    BassChuck Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    All good stuff IF we're talking about dance and/or commerical music. And really this has been the role of the bassist (DB, BG or tuba) for the last 80 to 100 years.

    So.... what is meant by 'modern'? When did things change? Are we talking about the amplification of the bass (or electric bass guitar) as having an impact on the bass line? Sure, it has... that is to say, we can heard it better, or easier now... but is the line any different?

    Few bassists in the 30's and 40's were doing anything like Victor Wooten is now. But it could be stated that some bassists were moving towards a more melodic concept, especially in small groups.

    In the end, we're still setting the style, holding the tempo, laying down a groove, but the notes are a little bit changed but thats just a different style.
  5. :confused: What's 'musique'(as opposed to music)? :confused:
  6. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    _IF_ anything has changed then it would be in the form of "postmodern". That is there are no roles - just people playing music.

    Jazz has always been ahead on this one by its nature. There is some crossover in more mainstream stuff where the bass player has stepped out of the traditional roles. There are more players performing bass driven music rather than just being in a supporting role.

    However the mainstream hasn't changed a very much int he scale of things.

  7. Another role, if you are not playing strictly instrumental music, is to support/embellish the lead vocal without "stepping on it." Easier said than done, but I play original music, and I find that my lines change over time as the vocalist formulates his lines.

    I think the traditional idea of the "glue" (+1 to cowsgomoo, that's exactly how I think of it) still holds.

    Nobody notices the glue for the most part, but without it, the whole thing falls apart.

    Obviously bass has branched away from strictly being a "rhythm" instrument, at least in some styles. IMO, it's still at its best when it's not a "lead" instrument.
  8. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Too much hip thrust
    I have a background in progressive metal and tend to add a very up-front bass presence to my music. I am not ridiculously flashy, but I go as deep into melody territory as I do rhythm. Tapping, slapping, harmonics, tapped harmoinics, ambient effects.

    I also participate a lot in the song writing. By doing this, I can merge my bass parts to link all the different sounds together better (for example, bass drum and guitar, with aggressive slap makes the overall tone WAY more aggresive) and define territory where I want to define the melody, or define pure rhythms.

    As far as I am concerned, the days of old school bassmanship are gone. Bands need more tone than just the guitar.
  9. senrats


    Apr 1, 2006
    Roswell, GA
    When listening to Chris Squire, I hear he is very tied in to Bruford's drums (or vice versa ;), but really, he is almost playing the part of "Cello" in a string Quartet. More countermelody but still something "dependable". It allows the guitar and keyboard to stray a little and become a little more improvisatory or embellishing.
  10. pmaraziti

    pmaraziti Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2006
    Sorry....I meant "music", musique is music in French...but I didn't really meant that...on top I'm italian and living in SPain !

    music = musica = musique = musik ! :)

  11. Akami

    Akami Four on the floor Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2005
    Okay, let me try this.

    English, Spanish, French and German?
  12. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    How do you say "Miscelaneous" in Italian?
  13. kserg


    Feb 20, 2004
    San Jose, CA
    To play bass.

    Interesting question actually, in my intro to music class the question was asked by teacher that “if piano was considered one of the leading instruments in the past what is in the modern rock music and what came from it”? (it was fraise better and made more sense btw)

    I could not answer it for some reason. Yes the instrument everyone wants to see is a guitar in but is that what keeps everything together as piano did? Maybe that is the job of the bassist, don’t know.
  14. pmaraziti

    pmaraziti Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2006
    Got it right... the second could be Spanish or Italian, same word
  15. sobie18


    May 5, 2002
    Shaw AFB, SC
    Ya know, I gave a speech on this subjetc in Speech class and received a 100%...I even played my bass as part of my speech...Bingo!
  16. the bass has the same role as any other instrument... what ever you give it..

    nobody sits down and says "ok im going to write the part of the song now that holds the entire thing together" everything in the song puts and holds the song together if you play it right

    kserg: your avatar... blue oyster cult on snl? lol
  17. Tired_Thumb

    Tired_Thumb Guest


    I'm another guy coming from the school of progressive metal, and I think it does a major disservice to one's own technical and musical abilities to limit one's self to a predefined role. As an extreme example of what I'm doing, I'm using flamenco techniques (granted, very rough ones at the moment) on a fretless bass with full distortion/fuzz to create a rather "interesting" sounding one man metal band with only the bass and vocals. Just one example, but it's foolish to limit the capacities of any instrument.
  18. CrazyArcher


    Aug 5, 2004
    That was nicely put together by CowsGoMoo at the begining of the thread.
    Obviously (IMO), there's no clearer definition of bass' role than enhancing the overall sound of the band. The way of doing it is a matter of choice. Bass is a very responsive instrument and provides incredible control over the sound dynamics, so a bassist plays a huge role in sculpturing the sound. Bass can double the guitar riffs and be aggressive, or it can lay down whole-note bombs under a guitar solo to give it incredible depth. Also, playing some fast lick when th guitar stays at the root (kinda inverting the stereotypic roles, lol) produces an awesome effect that really 'wow's the crowd.
    So, the way to enahnce teh same main melody line really a matter of choice. Now when we understood it ourselves, let's try to exaplin it to some guitar players :D
  19. 0/0.0\0


    Oct 5, 2005
    in addition to what you all said i think the bass' role is also to give the song some "flow"... so it doesn't seem stuck or boring

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