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TJ1

Why are bassists important?

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1 hour ago, TJ1 said:

As an experiment I've just listened to Abba's 'winner takes it all'(for me the undisputed emperor of keyboard-driven pop songs), unless I am mistaken - there is a subtle echo of a bass guitar matching the low notes on the keys - possibly giving them additional depth/poignancy. But as a casual listener it would'nt have occurred  that a bassist even existed in that early 80's studio. 

That bassline is doing a lot more than subtly matching the keys. It guides through the chords with chromatic leading notes, and adds rhythmic motion. It's a great part.

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Posted (edited)

Because they sell you stuff you don't need and then kindly buy it off you again.

This keeps Parcelforce and others very happy.

Edited by Al Krow
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1 hour ago, TJ1 said:

as a casual listener it wouldn't have occurred that a bassist even existed in that early 80's studio. 

That is both our curse and our gift...we make a huge contribution which goes virtually unnoticed...and most people couldn't even name a handful of bassists.

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41 minutes ago, TJ1 said:

I am assuming they only use a bass and drums?

Not always, but they are known as the rhythm twins, they’ve worked with untold people over the years, you might like to browse the reggae thread here at some time, there’s quite a mixture in there 🙂

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34 minutes ago, TheGreek said:

....and we're the only instrument with it's name on the amp....

There's no knob saying "guitar" on it!!!

 

I've known a few knobs with a guitar on...

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57 minutes ago, TheGreek said:

....and we're the only instrument with it's name on the amp....

There's no knob saying "guitar" on it!!!

 

What about plenty of knobs with guitars on them?

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1 hour ago, TheGreek said:

Paraphrase a phrase that was left here recently....

"You may not know that I am playing, but you'll know when I'm not..."

Listening to ...And Justice For All useful to demonstrating this truth

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3 hours ago, TJ1 said:

I realise this is a somewhat controversial/stupid question to ask a bass forum, but I am new to the bass, as I mainly play a 12 string acoustic alone, with chords and everything.

You know how three of the strings on your guitar play the same thing but up an octave and it's nice? It works the same in the opposite direction too.

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@TJ1, how old are you and what kind of music are you into?

This isn't meant as some stereotyping, condescending rant in any way, so apologies if it might seem like that. 

While I put my old man 'what on earth are the youth listening to' hat on I'll say that I think, in pop music, the bass guitar has kind of lost its way. Of course there will be exceptions and this is purely my opinion, and very generalised. 

But, in pop music bass really started to make its mark in the 60s. With Motown and Stax, The Who, Spencer Davis Group, The Animals, some group called The Beatles all had fantastically prominent basslines, some of which were the foundation of the song. There was also the first wave of Ska and Bluebeat which was very bass centric. 

The 70's continued this but added in disco and funk, and the end of the 70s beginning of the 80s saw the Mod and Ska revival with bands like The Specials, The Jam, The Clash etc absolutely killing it on the bass front. The Clash bridged Ska and Punk, as did a few other, again with great bass, and a few of the bands lumped in with punk really knew the power of bass like The Stranglers 

The late 70s into early 80s also saw the rise of post punk bands like Joy Division, Gang Of Four Devo, Talking Heads, Killing Joke, etc, again showcasing songs with massively prominent basslines that the songs just wouldn't work without. 

The eighties rumbled on with the emergence of goth with bands like Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, The Cure, guess what massive domineering basslines. 

90s grunge, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and others, bass you get the picture. They started in the 80s but came into their own in the 90s really, Red Hot Chili Peppers. The 90s also saw Rage Against The Machine, massive basslines again. It goes on and on. 

But slowly over the last twenty years bass seems to have lost its way in pop music. There are exceptions but maybe a twenty year old today would question the role of bass based on the popular music they've grown up with. 

 

Disclaimer, I've missed out loads but hopefully you get the jist. 

 

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25 minutes ago, Maude said:

@TJ1, how old are you and what kind of music are you into?

 

 

Actually I am pretty ancient certainly old enough to remember the Specials.

It's just the sort of songs I like don't tend to feature prominent bass lines, so it was meant as a devil's advocate type question.

For instance in the example I gave 'Winner takes it all', it is not apparent at all that there is any bass in it, but listening to it carefully I can see the bass provides some kind of unconscious emphasis for the listener, underlining the direction of the melody.

I also think it may provide some kind of continuity to the melody or tune underneath the vocals, when a guitar or keys simaltaneously accompanying the singer would be too intrusive or overpowering, this seems to be true of two of my favourite tracks  'While my guitar gently weeps' and 'Wild World', although Harrison's guitar or Steven's piano are the obvious melodic foundations.

As for modern music I think maybe a lot of traditional instruments have been replaced by computer generated effects.

Anyway many thanks to everyone for pointing out the not obvioustruth. I guess maybe the bass can be like salt or cooking oil, I don't particularly care for the taste of either, but cooking would be impossible without them.

My final question is: If drummers are insane, guitarists are knobs, singers are prima donnas - what is the bassist's standard personality defect?

 

 

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The sensible one.

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2 minutes ago, TJ1 said:

 

My final question is: If drummers are insane, guitarists are knobs, singers are prima donnas - what is the bassist's standard personality defect?

 

 

A fine upstanding pillar of the band. A stable constant that can always be depended on to provide the effective solution to any problem without having a complete meltdown. Happy in the knowledge that while not always as obvious as his bandmates, his presence is what keeps the band functioning. 

The singer is the face, the guitarist the arms and the drummer the belly, but the bassist is the internal organs, without which the band would die. 

Oh OK, keyboard players are the derrière. 😁

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26 minutes ago, Maude said:

 

Oh OK, keyboard players are the derrière. 😁

I switched from bass to keys halfway thorough last year, so when do i fit in?  A keyboard player with bass player ethics lol. 

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37 minutes ago, TJ1 said:

 

My final question is: If drummers are insane, guitarists are knobs, singers are prima donnas - what is the bassist's standard personality defect?

 

 

I'll let Derek Smalls answer that one for you..... 

 

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4 minutes ago, dave_bass5 said:

I switched from bass to keys halfway thorough last year, so when do i fit in?  A keyboard player with bass player ethics lol. 

A dependable ar$e? 🤔 😉 😁

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Bassists are very important. It's our job to make  the band sound good.

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8 minutes ago, chris_b said:

Bassists are very important. It's our job to ...

..load all the PA gear into our boot, transport it to the gig, unload it (play for a couple of hours) load up the PA at the end of the gig back into the boot and then drive back and unload it back at home.

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1 hour ago, TJ1 said:

My final question is: If drummers are insane, guitarists are knobs, singers are prima donnas - what is the bassist's standard personality defect?

Usually the boring one, standing at the back. 

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6 hours ago, TJ1 said:

I realise this is a somewhat controversial/stupid question to ask a bass forum, but I am new to the bass, as I mainly play a 12 string acoustic alone, with chords and everything.

:If the drummer keeps the underlying beat and the six string guitarist sets the tune/melody, where does the bassist fit in musically?

The truth is I can only think of a minority of songs where the bass line is immediately obvious - the Bee Gees Stayin' Alive spring to mind(yes it's a classic,)

That said I can't think of a well known rock/pop band that does not have a bassist so they must be equal, in some crucial way.

Worth checking out this thread:

Songs where the bass line IS the song. | TalkBass.com

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6 hours ago, TJ1 said:

If the drummer keeps the underlying beat and the six string guitarist sets the tune/melody, where does the bassist fit in musically?

Smack in the balls.

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6 hours ago, TJ1 said:

where does the bassist fit in musically?

 

In my experience, usually making sure that the drummer doesn't start at 110BPM and hit 180BPM by the end of the first chorus, that the singer knows when to come in, the guitarist knows when the middle 8 is here, and the keyboard player gets to the gig. Oh and that the PA is working, and the guitarist has a lead to plug in with. As well as (as has already been said far more eloquently than I could) making sure that people are up dancing rather than sat in their seats. Other than that, we're pretty expendable.

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I described it to a friend who is a cardiac nurse  thus - if the drums are the heartbeat then bass is the blood.

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if you ever listen to a band recording minus the bass line, even with the quietest most mundane bass part, the song sounds sort of, wrong.

We make music not sound wrong.

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