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Conan

Bass guitar as a lead/melodic instrument?

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Yes I know, many of us think that this is impossible. I also realise that many people do not like folk or traditional music. But... have a listen to this from 1 minute in. It just might change your mind (or at least give some food for thought) :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRvA_i-jrnI

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[quote name='NoRhino' timestamp='1478623246' post='3170388']
I recently played a show in Lanarkshire were the premotor raved about Manran. Now I see why.
[/quote]

I only heard them for the first time on BBC Alba last friday. To say that I was blown away would be an understatement! B)

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I think Ross Saunders was a member on here and used to be the owner of Valenti No. 42, a.k.a richardds red one . Superb playing all round.

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Bass as a lead/melodic instrument?

Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

http://youtu.be/7uLHrbKeHNU

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Bass as a melodic and lead instrument is as valid as virtually any other instrument. It's people's narrow-mindedness that's the problem. People have preconceived ideas of what an instrument should, and shouldn't do.

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[quote name='ambient' timestamp='1478627823' post='3170442']
Bass as a melodic and lead instrument is as valid as virtually any other instrument. It's people's narrow-mindedness that's the problem. People have preconceived ideas of what an instrument should, and shouldn't do.
[/quote]

x1M

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[quote name='ambient' timestamp='1478627823' post='3170442']
Bass as a melodic and lead instrument is as valid as virtually any other instrument. It's people's narrow-mindedness that's the problem. People have preconceived ideas of what an instrument should, and shouldn't do.
[/quote]

I absolutely agree with that.

In the example I posted it's not the fact the bass is the lead that's the problem, it's the insipid elevator music nature of the piece, which, considering the calibre of the musicians involved, makes it my least favourite cover version ever.

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[quote name='ambient' timestamp='1478627823' post='3170442']
Bass as a melodic and lead instrument is as valid as virtually any other instrument. It's people's narrow-mindedness that's the problem. People have preconceived ideas of what an instrument should, and shouldn't do.
[/quote][quote name='dood' timestamp='1478627995' post='3170447']
x1M
[/quote]

Add another X1M to that.

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[quote name='ambient' timestamp='1478627823' post='3170442']
Bass as a melodic and lead instrument is as valid as virtually any other instrument. It's people's narrow-mindedness that's the problem. People have preconceived ideas of what an instrument should, and shouldn't do.
[/quote]

Surely within the inherent limitations and qualities of the instrument itself..? Castanets..? Difficult to imagine a symphony with only those, no..? Possible, too, I don't doubt, but not as rich a potential as a grand piano. Yes, solo (or orchestras of...) bass is all very well, and feasible, but it has to be admitted that the range is less than some other instruments. Melody..? Fine.Lead..? Why not..? An ideal choice..? Not so often, I'd say. Limited scope, by the very nature of the beast (similarly with many other instruments, of course...).
Just sayin'.

Edit: And no thanks offered for the 'narrow-mindedness' (itself a blinkered view, no..?). A pair of breeze blocks has as much musical potential as a theatre organ..? I think not. Stuff is what it is; one can do much, and many have, with all sorts of unusual takes on 'traditional' views, but stuff is what stuff is, just the same. Yes, one can take something away from its comfort zone, but a sow's ear is a sow's ear. Maybe I'm just too narrow-minded, though. :sleep:

Edited by Dad3353

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When is a bass not a bass too? Is a nine string bass played through a myriad of fx and octavers still what most people are thinking of when they say a bass isn't a solo instrument?

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[quote name='Dad3353' timestamp='1478634747' post='3170527']
Surely within the inherent limitations and qualities of the instrument itself..? Castanets..? Difficult to imagine a symphony with only those, no..? Possible, too, I don't doubt, but not as rich a potential as a grand piano. Yes, solo (or orchestras of...) bass is all very well, and feasible, but it has to be admitted that the range is less than some other instruments. Melody..? Fine.Lead..? Why not..? An ideal choice..? Not so often, I'd say. Limited scope, by the very nature of the beast (similarly with many other instruments, of course...).
Just sayin'.
[/quote]

Piffle. One can rewardingly play anything on anything. Need authoritative proof?

My bravura interpretation of Mahler's 8th Symphony on paper and comb was awarded 'Best Performance' at The Gramophone Magazine awards in 1954. To my immense pleasure fellow nominee Karlheinz Stockhausen was beside himself with envy. That very night harsh words were exchanged and an unseemly brawl ensued. As a consequence Karlheinz and I broke intellectually and never met again.


[size=3][b]Glum[/b]: Stockhausen broods on his failure.[/size]

Edited by skankdelvar

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Bass guitar has been being used as an upfront melodic & solo instrument in folk rock music for decades. Check out some of the superb playing by Rick Kemp (Steeleye Span) & Dave Pegg (Fairport Convention) back in the 70s, a good place to start is "Robbery With Violins" from the 1973 Steeleye Span album "Parcel of Rogues", it's basically a 1.47 minute long bass & violin solo with the bass playing lots of lovely distorted wah wah stuff.
[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_BXh6DL4lg[/media]

Edited by RhysP

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[quote name='Conan' timestamp='1478623074' post='3170386']
Yes I know, many of us think that this is impossible. I also realise that many people do not like folk or traditional music. But... have a listen to this from 1 minute in. It just might change your mind (or at least give some food for thought) :)

[/quote]
Like it a lot, and the bass playing is fantastic and used to great effect, but is it lead/melodic? To me it wouldn't be anywhere near as effective without the vocal being there.

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[quote name='RhysP' timestamp='1478636801' post='3170550']
Bass guitar has been being used as an upfront melodic & solo instrument in folk rock music for decades. Check out some of the superb playing by Rick Kemp (Steeleye Span) & Dave Pegg (Fairport Convention) back in the 70s,
[/quote]
And on some of their later stuff - here's a lovely bit right at the top of this Fairport track - lots more nice playing through the rest of the album. [url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hN-Z5H7TJQE"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hN-Z5H7TJQE[/url]

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Here's Peggy ripping it up on some jigs & reels with Fairport in 1976:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efg1hgSCqJU

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I don't see a bass as a lead instrument any more than a drumkit. Both bass and drums are crucial sounds in a band. Bass fills like drum fills are part of the sound. Trying to suggest otherwise is nothing more than wishful thinking. Enjoy and appreciate the bass for what it does.

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[quote name='Rocker' timestamp='1478642516' post='3170630']
I don't see a bass as a lead instrument any more than a drumkit. Both bass and drums are crucial sounds in a band. Bass fills like drum fills are part of the sound. Trying to suggest otherwise is nothing more than wishful thinking. Enjoy and appreciate the bass for what it does.
[/quote]

It all depends on what's played, how, and by whom.

How does cello sound to you ?

Edited by ambient

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What is a solo anyway? Or a "lead melodic instrument"? Well, its the line or tune which gets the focus, in an arrangement or orchestration of a piece. If there's too much else going on, then the melody will be lost in a mush so the others need to back off somewhat, while an instrument(alist) is playing the melody. They're still providing rhythm and harmony though, and possibly a counterpoint too. If the bass is doing the melody then either someone else is doing the rhythm/harmony, its missing, or its doing all three roles at a time - a formidable task, but one which is possible in the right context.

There's definitely issues with the bass taking on the role of the "lead melodic instrument" and one needs to tread very carefully to make it a success rather than just an exercise in being different for the sake of it. It helps if something else can provide the low end (so the bass guitar can use the higher end of its range and not leave an obvious gap), for boring scientific reasons.

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[quote name='RhysP' timestamp='1478637370' post='3170560']
Here's Peggy ripping it up on some jigs & reels with Fairport in 1976:

[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efg1hgSCqJU[/media]
[/quote]

In a similar vein, here's how we do it 'round our way...

http://youtu.be/es6IlzWacGs?t=2m24s

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To make a comparison with baroque and classical music, the cello is the bass instrument and plays the role you'd expect in a symphony or string quartet. And Bach's solo cello suites are utterly melodic and intricate and beautiful.

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[quote name='paul_c2' timestamp='1478646754' post='3170684']If the bass is doing the melody then either someone else is doing the rhythm/harmony, its missing, or its doing all three roles at a time[/quote]

Both Stanley Clarke and Victor Wooten have had bass players in their bands.


It's not bass guitar I know but for amazing solo bass music, check out Françoise Rabat. I wore this album out when I bought it in the late 60's.

[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHppW-WZN4k"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHppW-WZN4k[/url]

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[quote name='Mykesbass' timestamp='1478636839' post='3170551']
Like it a lot, and the bass playing is fantastic and used to great effect, but is it lead/melodic? To me it wouldn't be anywhere near as effective without the vocal being there.
[/quote]

I've just listened to it and would say that the vocal is the lead "instrument" in the piece. The bass is very prominent, but isn't it playing a support rôle to the voice?

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Yes it definitely can be a very good choice for a lead instrument. Sadly I've only very occasionally heard bass as a lead instrument done in such a way that I thought it sounded good. I tend to associate it with really insipid elevator music (which I'm certain is technically amazing) which is why I thank the op in this instance for bringing this to my ears. Nor necessarily to my taste but different and interesting nonetheless.

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