The bass guitar is harder to hear when a band is playing compared to the lead guitar. Bass is naturally harder for the ear to distinguish and people tend to talk over bass solos. The bass guitar is one of the most underrated and unnoticed in a band. So you might be asking, is the bassist important in a band at all?
The bass provides a lower frequency of a pitch and therefore makes it hard for the human ear to hear. Most people are unaware of the cruciality of bass in music. If this causes you worry as an aspiring bassist, you will rarely find a band that does not require a bassist.
Why is the bass guitar underrated?
If the bassist is important in a band, where is it so underrated? There are several reasons for this perception. Many bassists were former lead guitarists. There are various reasons for making the switch. But the number one reason is that the bass is easier to play. Mostly, these musicians tend to stagnate their progress and not look beyond their horizons.
As a result, most bassists do not contribute much or change their style. When you play any instrument in this way, it is bound to be easier to play. However, true bassists understand the importance of the bass sound, deep notes, and write bass lines that provide harmony and vibrancy to the music. A great example is Paul McCartney from the Beatles. Many focus on his popularity as a singer-songwriter and not so much the fact that he is a bass player.
Most musicians respect and give value to the bassist as they understand the role of a bassist. It is the general public that is unaware of their importance.
Understanding music to know the bass
To understand the importance of a bassist, it helps to know what music is made up of.
1. Melody - The single-line phrase of notes on a staff that is usually recurring throughout a song.
2. Rhythm - The placement of sounds in time
3. Harmony - The simultaneous occurrence of two or more tones
Melodic instruments include saxophone, flute, harp, and a vocalist. Melody is the tune that is singable in a song. Rhythm helps to drive the rhythm and time the song. Instruments such as the drums, marimba, and Cajon are under the category of rhythmic instruments. Harmonic instruments include the guitar, piano, or violin. They can also be created by multiple instruments or voices.
The two roles of a bassist
To understand the important role of the bass, you should find out what sets the bass apart from the drum or a guitar. The bass guitar is actually a bridge between the drums and guitar. The bass guitar can drive the rhythm as well as play the pitch and harmonize like the guitar. It is the bassist’s responsibility to hold the band together in rhythm and harmony.
The harmonic function of the bass is the reference point it provides for all the other higher frequencies played over it. The bass provides a harmonic foundation that music is built on.
The bass produces low-range frequencies that can cause resonance and vibrations that are otherwise hard to recreate using drums or the guitar. These vibrations get our feet tapping and resonate with the consistent and repetitive rhythms we are familiar with.
Are bassists really needed?
Realizing the important contribution of the bass in the rhythm and harmonic part of the music gives you insight into the powerful role of the bass guitar. But the true importance is how the bass affects listeners. Studies have shown that a lower frequency helps our brain become adjusted to rhythm changes more quickly.
Bass sounds are more associated with power and strength than higher frequencies making them crucial for rock bands that require a dominating effect.
Other studies have shown that your heartbeat often syncs with the beat of the music you are listening to. This is only possible through deeper notes and low bass music.
If you haven't decided on which guitar to learn - acoustic, electric, or bass, you can always get in touch with us at Ritmo Music Studio to find out about our trial lessons.