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Bass Appreciation


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A learning night presentation by Tony Tran on the role and sound of bass throughout the years

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Bass Appreciation

  1. 1. Bass Appreciation Its role and sound throughout the years Tony T. Tran South Bay Learning Night Nov. 2015
  2. 2. Why is Bass Under-Appreciated? • Often times, hard to hear  • It isn’t what people hum/sing to • Bass often just follows guitars • Leads to preconception that bass is not important, boring, and easy.
  3. 3. Bass What Role Does the Bass play? Melody Harmony Rhythm
  4. 4. Rhythm • Commonly associated with drums • Maintaining a pulse • So how is the bass a rhythmic instrument? • Percussive sound to maintain a beat
  5. 5. Harmony • Combination of notes (tones) played together • Chord • How does the bass play harmony? • We use the lowest frequency note as a reference point.
  6. 6. Putting it all together • Provides the beat (foundation) • Provides the context for the melody • All together, it helps provide the feeling for the song
  7. 7. So Let’s Listen to Some Good Examples of Bass!
  8. 8. Walking Bass Lines • Steady beat – simulates walking • Origin: Baroque (?) • Commonly found in: • Swing Jazz, Blues, Boogie • Notes: • Bass walks up (down) from one chord to the next
  9. 9. Syncopated Beats • Syncopate - displace the beats or accents in music (or a rhythm) so that strong beats become weak and vice versa. • Predominant in Latin music and African rhythms • Commonly found in: • Ragtime, Jazz, Funk, Gospel, Reggae, Samba … • Notes: • Rhythmically more complex – accents the upbeat • Still has strong structure • Forms the groove by accents and space
  10. 10. Slap (& Pop) Bass • Heavy emphasis on interesting rhythm • Extremely percussive sound • Common in: • Funk and Soul • Notes: • Slapping is percussive like a bass drum • Popping cuts through like a snare
  11. 11. Motown • James Jamerson! • Played on more #1 hits than The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Beach Boys combined • Melodic style of bass playing • but still very funky • One of the most influential electric bass players ever, but completely underappreciated.
  12. 12. The Hook • A riff that is used in popular music to catch the ear of the listener • Late 70s - early 80s bass lines become more popular and prominent through these hooks • Notes: • Very recognizable bass lines
  13. 13. Rock • It’s here because many of us are familiar with and were raised on rock music • Notes 1: • Bass provides a lot of the progression for the song – recall guitar/drum example • Slap bass technique used • Notes 2: • Melodic bass line • Influences of walking lines • Listen to how the bass is a reference point for the guitar
  14. 14. What about more recent popular music?
  15. 15. Questions? or have I pitched the bassics well enough?