Gut Rumbles

July 13, 2003

who woulda thunk it?

I cannot believe that kim du toit knows shit about music. He doesn't play any instruments, unless you consider a semi-automatic rifle going off in four-shot groups a form of music. (I do, but that's another story, and I don't want to digress.) I am STUNNED to read this:

It's a difficult concept to explain, but bass and drums are essentially one instrument -- the bass gives music to the beat -- and not many people realize that when these two are played as two instruments instead of as one, the song sounds "loose" (it loses cohesion), and the listener is actually disconcerted, in the literal sense of the word.

Which is why so many modern bands suck: they insist on playing the bass as a solo instrument. (Note to aspiring rock musicians: If you want to play a solo instrument, play lead-, and not bass guitar.)

Kim is correct. As an ex-bass player, I know THE TRUTH: The bass guitar is a PERCUSSION instrument, just like the drums. The drums lay down the beat, but the BASS lays down the bottom that holds the song in one place. You provide background for the lead and rhythm guitars, but you play bass to the drums. If you don't, the music is all out of whack.

An electric bass is easy to learn to play half-assed but very difficult to become accomplished on. It requires a completely different mindset from what most guitar players are accustomed to. My short, stubby fingers didn't help me any, but I could hit the notes. I just could never SING and play the bass at the same time. It involved two different rhythms and it fucked me up. It still does to this day.

I have to CONCENTRATE when I play bass guitar and I've got to stand where I can hear the drums clearly. I don't like to do that. It makes my head hurt to CONCENTRATE and listen to drums at the same time. Hell, I don't have to THINK when I play a regular guitar, acoustic or electric. The fingers just go where they're supposed to and life is simple. That goddam bass is a different story.

I never would have figured Kim for someone who recognized that fact.


Early music in the classical realm had exactly the same system; much that was written out had only the melody line, with just an indication of the underlying ground indicating just the beat and the harmonic category.

Posted by: MommaBear on July 13, 2003 07:47 AM

I'm definitely in the 'half-assed bass guitarist" category. I'm too music-stupid to handle it, methinks. I'm considering switching to the drums. While I have a lot of rhythm, I'm not so hot on the tones and notes. I figure,, within reason, I can have basically no idea what I'm doing and still sound decent on the drums. :-D

Posted by: Tony Hagale on July 13, 2003 08:17 AM

Kim is a bass player himself. And while I'm on the subject of bragging about my DH, he's also a trained chorister (Royal Schools of Church Music), arranger, opera singer, etc. etc. He actually knows MORE about music than he does guns.

Posted by: Mrs. du Toit on July 13, 2003 09:17 AM

Bite me, Acid -- I played bass in a rock band for 10 years.

And not only can I sing and play bass at the same time, I can sing, play bass, work the lights AND look for decent poontang on the dance floor -- all at the same time.

Hell, I have a girl's first name, a French last name, and I'm a White Africa-American. After that, the rest is plain sailing.

Posted by: Kim du Toit on July 13, 2003 09:28 AM

To Mrs. DT: how does he figure out who he is when he first wakes up in the morning?!

Posted by: MommaBear on July 13, 2003 10:33 AM

Pretty much on the money. Not saying that the drums and bass have to land at the same place all the time; depends on what type of music, but they should be playing with each other. For rock, to me, nothing sounds better than when the bass and drums are locked tighter than a nun's c**t on Christmas.

By the way, did you know that a piano is also considerd a purcussion insturment?

Posted by: Lobowalk on July 13, 2003 11:43 AM

"Which is why so many modern bands suck?"

Because the RIAA made sure the music business became The Business of Music and any Clear Channel radio station sounds like every other.

Instead of music we have trends.

Posted by: A.J. on July 13, 2003 11:55 AM

as a drummer, i agree, the bass and the drums must enterwine as inexorably as strands on a rope.

like everything else, there are exceptions to this. john entwhistle and keith moon instantly come to mind. entwhistle did play his bass as a lead instrument and moon played his drums as a lead instrument...for that matter townshend played his guitar as a lead instrument AND daltrey used his voice as a lead instrument....a who concert consisted mainly of four of the meanest sobs on god's green earth trying to "out-lead" the others.

and tony....playing the drums is like playing most other dont HAVE to know what you are doing but it sure sounds a lot better if you do....

Posted by: mr. helpful on July 13, 2003 12:14 PM

Geddy Lee is able to pull off treating the bass as a solo instrument, and some say that he can sing at the same time, and technically, rhythmically, Geddy and Neal peart are almost always right on as if they were playing one instrument. Not many others can do that with modern pop music.

This whole discussion leads me to remark as to why I like Baroque music so much - All of the instruments and all of the ranges have equal footing (not always, but most often), and modern music, either classical or pop, that can immitate that has a seemingly genius feel to me...Stabbing Westward comes to mind.

Posted by: Carl on July 13, 2003 12:47 PM

I'll be goddamed. Kim can play bass and SING at the same time? Man, I am impressed.

Posted by: Acidman on July 13, 2003 01:38 PM

just scroll down about halfways....

: )

Posted by: toddk73 on July 13, 2003 02:11 PM

Now *I* feel like shit. Not oly does he have more guns than me, but don't tell me duToit can *rock* better than me, too...ARGH! Piss.

I was in a rock band for four years, lead singer. I played some rythym guitar - but not while I was singin'. Hell, I can't walk and chew gum at the same time, much less sing and play guitar simultaneously.

Conversely, I *can* play piano (that percussion instrument) and sing at the same time. Maybe it has something to do with sitting down for me? Or being blonde?

Posted by: kelley on July 13, 2003 04:27 PM

hallefuckinglujah. I'm a bass player, and nothing drives me more insane than watching guitar-players-in-disguise play bass. there are some who can pull it off, to be sure, but the average idiot playing around town does not fit into THAT category.

And girls who drool over guitar players... what idiots. They've never sat on a bass amp while someone had it cranked to 11.

Posted by: pril on July 13, 2003 09:43 PM

Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?

Posted by: toddk73 on July 13, 2003 10:14 PM

But...this one goes to ELEVEN!

Posted by: Kevin Baker on July 14, 2003 10:44 AM

as a former bass player myself (I hella-sucked, so I did the smart thing and started LISTENING to music and letting the talented people PLAY it), I'll concur with most of what you're saying, EXCEPT:

"The bass guitar is a PERCUSSION instrument, just like the drums."

uh, no it's not. It's a RYTHM instrument. There's a huge difference. Percussion would be drums, bongos, etc. Anything you bang on. Bass is a string instrument used to lay the rythm of the song.

There are a few bassists who can do the "lead bass" thing, but usually it sounds egotistical and weird and I'll agree that it almost always fucks up the flow of the song. If they wanted to be a lead guitarist, they should play the guitar.

Neil Murray was an incredible bassist and he would add some lead fills to his normal rythm playing. Check out almost anything live that he's played on (Whitesnake's Live.... In The Heart Of The City comes to mind... that was before they were a glam/hair metal band and when they played hard blues-rock in the Deep Purple vein)

Okay, I'm done rambling.

Posted by: Jim S on July 14, 2003 11:00 AM

I disagree with Jim. He's never STOOD next to a big-assed bass amp turned up to 10 and felt the vibration in his feet (AND his balls-- man, that would hurt right now) while playing.

That ain't rhythm, dude. That's PERCUSSION!

Posted by: Acidman on July 14, 2003 05:09 PM
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