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The Musical Role of the Bass Guitar

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MUSICAL ROLE OF THE INSTRUMENT: BASS GUITAR Rock: Often, popular rock bands use the bass guitar as a member of the rhythm section, which has the role of providing a floor for the harmony sequence, and for setting the proper beat or rhythm. The rhythm section normally consists of a rhythm guitarist, a bass guitar and a drummer. The types of bass-lines performed by the bass guitarist vary from one style of music to another. Although the most used style of bass-line, in most styles of popular music, is playing similar rhythms with the drums in order to lay down the beat, and emphasize the chords by playing root notes of the chord progression, sometimes this changes to other notes from the chord, but mostly root, fifth and third are used to draw the chords throughout the songs. ...read more.


Funk: In contrast to rock, in funk, it is possible that the bass is featured throughout the whole song by playing a bass groove, and the bass-line is normally very outstanding in the mix. In a funk or funk rock band, a bass solo may showcase the bassist's percussive slap and pop playing. Jazz: Electric bass is not a traditional instrument in jazz music. The big bands of the 1930's and 1940's Swing era and the small bands from the 1950's Bebop styles were using the double bass. The electric bass started to be part of jazz during the 1960's and 1970's, when rock influences were mixed with jazz to create jazz-rock fusion. ...read more.


In a jazz setting, all the instruments are seen as equally important in terms of the role of each instrument. In jazz, the bass is often used as the bed for everything because is the one staying steady with a certain rhythmic figure, but it has a solo role as well, and it is much more generous than in most of the other popular styles. During a jazz concert, a jazz bassist may have a number of lengthy improvised solos, which are called "blowing" in jazz language. The Electric Bass is a mixture in between the rhythm section and the melodic - harmonic part. That is why the bass player has a place in the two parts of a band, and has to be supportive as an harmonic instrument, but has to be able as well, to play melodic lines through songs. ...read more.

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Overall a good description of what the bassist's role is in a number of different bands. I feel that the writer should go into a little more detail in some areas as indicated in the comments above.

Marked by teacher Nathan Smith 08/01/2013

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