The Art of Bass

hands playing a bass guitar

The bass player is definitely an overlooked person in any band and the bass in any song is not thoughtfully looked at as much as any other instrument in a band. The delicacy of playing tuba in marching band or playing a walk on a stand-up bass for a jazz band are never praised by many listeners. The first moment that I experienced bass in music was not when I heard dubstep or any electronic music that overpowered the low frequencies of music. I did have my fair share of having my older sibling put a sub-woofer in his truck and cranking the bass to “11”. The massage that I received from the vibrating seat was gloriously unforgettable. You couldn’t recognize the song but knew that you were considered “cool” for the amount of bass that came out of your vehicle. That’s the only thing that would come to my head when I would consider “bass” in music. I wondered if Megan Trainor was right when she said that it was “all about that bass”? But why is this important? Why should you and I care about this instrument in the band?

Who’s Enjoying the Show?

The worship leader of a local church asked me if I was musically inclined to play an instrument. I replied by mentioning that I played a little bit of acoustic guitar here and there. I wasn’t that talented. I didn’t play in any band or even considered it (at the time). The worship leader asked if I was interested in playing the bass guitar. I quickly accepted, not knowing what opportunities or experiences that the position held.
Two weeks later, I lost my virginity to the instrument when I played for the first time in front of a crowd at this church. I learned the basic notes on the neck of the guitar and how to find my place if I got lost in the middle of a song. The first genre that I experienced was Spanish worship music, which meant that every song was driven by the beat of the drums, the rhythm of the acoustic guitar, and the crowd jumping and clapping off-tempo. The blisters from sliding your finger up and down the neck were painful to receive but great to look at because I knew I was getting somewhere.

A Gif of a bass guitar and the words

Think about when you initially buy a new car. You will begin to notice how many people actually have your vehicle and it becomes second-hand nature to see the car in traffic and in the middle of a Wal-Mart or Target parking lot. The same thing happens when you learn a new instrument. You will unintentionally seek for the bass part when you listen to a song on your phone or another multi-media device. When I started to play bass in my mid-teens, I started to pay more attention to the bass player in any band. Specifically for the bass guitar, you notice how little effort is put in, not only finding a new bass player but also in playing the instrument. Knowing how to play bass gives me a head start to be able to find that sound. I want you to appreciate and enjoy the bass in the show, too.

The Adventure in a New Genre

In high school, I joined the Jazz band for one semester. This was probably the best decision in my life. Personally, I saw the potential of the bass guitar, not just when I listened to the greats of Charles Mingus, Victor Wooten, Pino Palladino, and Jaco Pastorius (if you don’t know who I am talking about, then change that), but when I learned to play the music, as well. I learned the freedom of playing an instrument in music. There is a freedom in simply knowing the keys and chord progression of a song because you see how wide your path is when you walk. We all need to realize how limitless music can be.

The foundation of a band starts with a drum beat and the bass note of a chord. I promise you, that if you listen to a song and get rid of the bass part and the low-ends of music, you will feel empty. You won’t know the value of something until it is gone. It’s there for a reason. You can’t have a house if you only have the walls and roof. That is what you see when you are in the market to buy a house, but you don’t realize that the ground and foundation of the house is what makes the house exist. It is the same in a band. A bass will help other members of a band know where they need to be, while also acting as a filler for the audience to better enjoy the dynamic sounds of the other instruments. A pianist and a guitarist need the support of this overlooked member.

And as I mentioned before, you can find a good bassist and bass line in every genre. Whether you look at something obvious like Jazz, swing, or blues, or if you look at genres like heavy metal or worship music, you’ll notice that the instrument deserves to be everywhere.

So, Juan, I thought this blog was about Jesus and stuff. Where is all of that?

Good question, absolutely made-up reader of mine! Let me give you a quick debriefing about this post. This Spring semester, I enrolled in a “Writing for the Web” course. It covered many of the ins-and-outs of writing a blog (hence what motivated me to start writing this blog). This post is what I turned in for my final project in that class. I had no intention of making the content “Christ-centered”, either.

But, as I wrote the content, I kept thinking of 1 Corinthians 12. The writer, Paul, talks about the body of the church, where he exclaims the importance of each individual in the church. When someone new to the church experience walks into a church, he may notice the greeters, the worship band, and the pastor (or speaker). He doesn’t notice the members behind the sound booth or the person who swept the lobby before service. When a malfunction or glitch occurs with the house lights, there needs to be someone who fixes it. If that person is not in during this glitch in the lights, mayhem will creep through the door. You get the idea. Everyone is important in the church just as the bass is important in the band. As members of the body, I believe that it is our responsibility to also encourage one another. Let everyone know that even though they are not in the band or on stage preaching, they are still valuable and important to the big picture.

In the first paragraph of this post, I asked a question. I think that it deserves an answer, too. Don’t forget that every member of the family is important. Every member of the body matters. Go tell that bassist, that they matter. Yes, in the end, it really is “all about that bass”.

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