Gut Rumbles

March 02, 2008

Who woulda thunk it?

Originally published July 13, 2003

I cannot believe that Kim du Toit knows shit about music. [And, I quote: The requested URL /dr/weblog.php was not found on this server. -Ed.] 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.

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