3 Reasons Why Bass Players Are The Most Important Band Members

bass guitarI just read a cool article talking about how science has finally proven that the bass player is the most important member of the band.

Ha, go figure eh?

Being both a bass player and a guitar player, I'm okay with that news 🙂

Anyhoo, reasons why, being:

  • Our brains recognize and adjust to changes in rhythm more quickly when a lower frequency is
  • Our brains associate the bass sound and voice with dominance and power, far more so than higher frequencies
  • The lowest note played in the chord (a chord can be built using more than one instrument) establishes the harmonic and melodic direction of the music.

The first two are interesting, but they kind of come naturally with the territory.

That last one though - that's especially interesting, because if the bass player changes the note they're playing, it can actually change the overall chord that the audience is perceiving.

Because that low note is so powerful and has such a dominant position in setting the stage for all the other notes that other instruments might be playing, the bass player has a really important role.

For instance, if you hang out on the root note of the chord that the guitars are playing, then nothing much changes, because you're in sync with them, just adding a lower octave.

But - if you want to get a bit more interesting with your playing, and start introducing some walking bass lines, then you'll be playing different notes over top of their chord.

And that means that technically, the overall chord is changing all the time.

Which can sound really cool.

We talk a bit about this kind of playing in Decoding the Bass.

If you'd like to learn more, you can check it out here.


One Response to “3 Reasons Why Bass Players Are The Most Important Band Members”

  1. Biplab Poddar May 7, 2018 at 10:55 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m currently working on the f# minor nocturne! they’re beautiful pieces. Afte completion of this, I would go for guitar lessons.
    Don’t get me wrong, you have to be strong and confident to be successful in just about anything you do – but with music, there’s a deeper emotional component to your failures and successes. If you fail a chemistry test, it’s because you either didn’t study enough, or just aren’t that good at chemistry (the latter of which is totally understandable). But if you fail at music, it can say something about your character. It could be because you didn’t practice enough – but, more terrifyingly, it could be because you aren’t resilient enough. Mastering chemistry requires diligence and smarts, but mastering a piano piece requires diligence and smarts, plus creativity, plus the immense capacity to both overcome emotional hurdles, and, simultaneously, to use that emotional component to bring the music alive.
    Before I started taking piano, I had always imagined the Conservatory students to have it so good – I mean, for their homework, they get to play guitar, or jam on their saxophone, or sing songs! What fun! Compared to sitting in lab for four hours studying the optical properties of minerals, or discussing Lucretian theories of democracy and politics, I would play piano any day.

    But after almost three years of piano at Orpheus Academy, I understand just how naïve this is. Playing music for credit is not “easy” or “fun” or “magical” or “lucky.” Mostly, it’s really freakin’ hard. It requires you to pick apart your piece, play every little segment over and over, dissect it, tinker with it, cry over it, feel completely lame about it, then get over yourself and start practicing again. You have to be precise and diligent, creative and robotic. And then – after all of this – you have to re-discover the emotional beauty in the piece, and use it in your performance.

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