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The bass guitar is a very popular instrument. However, it is sometimes confused with the guitar and
many believe it is an unnecessary instrument that cannot be heard in most musical settings. Neither
of those is true, obviously. Why would it be so well known if it didn't have a purpose? The bass
players purpose is to support the band under which he or she is playing. The purpose is not
necessarily to be noticed, but being noticed and being there can be two completely different things.
Think of a house, what are the things you notice when you walk inside: the color of the walls, the
carpet, the size, and the furniture. All of those things would be the pieces of the band besides the
bass player. The bass player would be the foundation of the house. Jaycen A'mour
You would probably never walk into in a house and think, "wow this is a really firm foundation", but
at the same time, if the foundation was not there, would the house still be standing?
In more musical terms, the bass players primary job is to keep time and infer harmonic progression.
What does this mean? The bass player will work with the drummer, given that there is one, in order
to hold the rest of the band from speeding up or slowing down and will do this by playing many of
the roots of the chords, along with the other dominating chord tones (primarily 5ths and octaves).
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What gives the bass the ability to do this? Why not the guitar player?
The bass is very similar to the guitar in many ways, but the main difference is all of the strings on the
bass, though tuned to the same notes, are pitched an octave below that of the strings on a guitar.
This is also the reason it is hard to notice the bass if one does not have a trained ear. Lower
frequencies are much harder to pick out than higher ones, like those that the guitar player would
produce. This is also the reason the bass player is responsible for playing the root and the 5th. Most
chords have these qualities so they do not specifically define the quality of each chord, but when the
bass player provides them for the rest of the band, they are free to play the defining notes of the
chords. These are the tones that need to be heard more anyway. Bass House
Some form of bass can be found in most kinds of contemporary music. Next time you are listening to
a song, I ask you to listen for the bass. Depending on the genre, it may be very difficult to pick out.
You may think you can hear it, but not be sure. However, I am sure that if the bass were not there,
you would most definitely be sure.