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Unread 04-19-2006, 10:15 AM   #1
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Experiment: How different can a song sound without bass?

I've been meaning to explore this more. Has anyone noticed a difference, especially in rock songs? I've noticed that the awesome thing about concerts is how loud and booming the bass drum and guitar is, and I recently rented a how-to bass video and the guy used different playing styles while the other instruments played the same beat. For instance, a rock song with a funk beat.

Thoughts?

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Unread 04-19-2006, 12:32 PM   #2
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I know that our worship team can't stand to play without a bass guitar.

I will ocassionally setup monitor mixes when a sound tech can't be present at rehearsal and I'm playing bass. So the rest of the band will play through a couple songs while I sit out to mix and they can't wait for me to get off the console and back on the bass.

It makes a huge difference.

I also feel that a bass line which emphasis on roots (rather than a lot of extra filler), helps singers with their reference pitch and deliver more precision.

Then of course there's that rhythmic glue that everyone talks about. It's an important force...if the bass player is really executing in this role.

As far as varied styles, that's one of the best parts of being a bass player. You can take those songs that get played a lot and freshen them up with a little twist on the groove.

There's a lot of subtle power as a bass player.
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Unread 04-19-2006, 06:27 PM   #3
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It depends on the song/style as always. Jazz would be almost lost without bass, but folk music can generally do without it.

I play in a 3 piece band, as you can imagine, the music would be quite empty without the bass.

Since I can, here's some of my own music. These are numbered clips with and without the bass tracks. I did no further editing on these tracks other than removing the bass track. Track one is rather bass heavy on the guitar, there isn't much difference. Track two is pretty busy all around, each instrument staying in a sonic niche, and taking away the bass just leaves a big gap.
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Unread 04-19-2006, 06:33 PM   #4
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Not done yet, two more...

Track three is a more funk-rock type of song, where the bass is the main groove generator. No bass kills the groove considerably, not to mention the integral funkiness of the song. Track four is a harder rocker, where a moving bass line really drives the song foward. No bass really empties out the sound and reduces the driving nature of the song, and of course much of the interest about this part.

So, a bass is really important, IMO, that's why just about every band has one.

Try listening to the part without the bass first, then listening to it with bass.
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Unread 04-21-2006, 09:59 AM   #5
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Thanks Rainer! I can tell a slight difference...
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Unread 04-22-2006, 03:37 PM   #6
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It's a lot more pronounced if you're on better speakers with good bass.
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Unread 04-22-2006, 04:57 PM   #7
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As the bassist in a 3-piece band, I feel that bass is often a huge part of the music that is often overlooked until it's missing.

Bass rounds out the music. It's the thing that often connects the guitar part with the drum part and makes is make sense. It also fills what would otherwise feel like empty space.

Something that really hit me last Thursday during band practice is that not only is the presence of the bass really important to a song, but also what the bass is playing.

Here's the story:
So last Thursday we were working on a new song tentatively called "Giving you the Gift of Missing Me". Now, usually when Ryan (my guitarist who also writes all the songs) brings and idea to the table I try to start playing with it right away. This time I wanted to get some idea of the overall sound so I sat down and listened to what he was doing. After a few minutes I picked up the bass and started playing a pretty basic line. I really wasn't too pleased with the song. It felt like an ok song, but there was something missing.
So, we did the song again and I started experimenting more with bass riffs and such and found that by adding a couple riffs in the verse, the song was completely tied together in my mind, and everything started to sound alot better. I went from being barely ok with the song the first time we did it, to being really stoked about it by the time practice was over.

edit: and yes, I did listen to your clips Rainer
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Unread 05-06-2006, 08:30 AM   #8
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I'm in a jazz/bossa nova band and we don't actually have a bassist, and I had thought about playing baritone guitar to add a lower frequency to the song, and to be quite honest it would be much better with a double bassist or an elctric bassist but there aren't any around!

Saying that, for jazz the bass in an outfit with a bassist and drummer holds the rhythm completely rather than the drummer, allowing the drummer to accentuate the rhythm. You do get some outfits without bass, but they quite often don't really have much percussion and one of the other musicians will take the rhythm role.
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Unread 06-01-2006, 04:05 PM   #9
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If you listen to newsboys live playing He Reigns their bassist plays guitar and it doesn't sound very good.
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Unread 06-02-2006, 08:56 PM   #10
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I know that in my band if I stop on a part, it just sounds weird without a bass. That's just me though.
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Unread 06-02-2006, 10:01 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by telecasting
I'm in a jazz/bossa nova band and we don't actually have a bassist, and I had thought about playing baritone guitar to add a lower frequency to the song, and to be quite honest it would be much better with a double bassist or an elctric bassist but there aren't any around!

Saying that, for jazz the bass in an outfit with a bassist and drummer holds the rhythm completely rather than the drummer, allowing the drummer to accentuate the rhythm. You do get some outfits without bass, but they quite often don't really have much percussion and one of the other musicians will take the rhythm role.
Jazz without bass? Blasphemy, I would never hear of it.

I play bass in our school's jazz band. Let's just say, if I'm out sick, the whole band gets the day off... just because the band can't synch nearly as well without the basslines...
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Unread 06-02-2006, 10:06 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Visirale
Jazz without bass? Blasphemy, I would never hear of it.

I play bass in our school's jazz band. Let's just say, if I'm out sick, the whole band gets the day off... just because the band can't synch nearly as well without the basslines...
The bass is only the foundation of the entrie band, especially as time keeper.
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Unread 06-03-2006, 08:59 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Visirale
Jazz without bass? Blasphemy, I would never hear of it.

I play bass in our school's jazz band. Let's just say, if I'm out sick, the whole band gets the day off... just because the band can't synch nearly as well without the basslines...
same for us. When we don't havea bass, we don't play. at least not very good
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