What Is The Role Of A Bass Guitar In A Group Band?


Although bass players commonly get overlooked in group bands given that they hardly ever play the upfront melodies, they do serve two very vital functions. If you have ever asked the question, “What is the role of a bass guitar in a group band?”, the following information should prove helpful. This deep, powerful, stringed instrument is actually critical to the overall sounds produced.

Bass Players Supply The Rhythmic Foundation For The Band

John Entwistle bass playerNot surprisingly, the bass is all about rhythm. In fact, it provides the rhythmic foundation for the band. When most people feel or hear a good, strong rhythm, they want to pat their feet or snap their fingers. In order to be well-received, music has to have an established rhythm and this is exactly what the bass supplies. Thus, when you hear a group playing and you find yourself swaying or making any steady, consistent movements, it’s likely the rhythm of the bass that you’re following. Moreover, everyone in the group is following this rhythm as well. Laying down a good, steady pulse is the foremost job of the bassist and this means that without a good bass player, a very vital element could be missing.

This, however, doesn’t mean that the bassist stands on his own when it comes to establishing a rhythmic foundation. Drummers and other percussionists can certainly lend a hand. In fact, when groups lack a bass player, drummers can often pick up the slack. Groups that have both bassists and drummers, however, tend to have a stronger and far more appealing sound. With a strong rhythmic foundation, it is far easier to capture and keep the attention of the audience.

The Harmonic Foundation

Harmonic FoundationAlthough establishing the rhythmic foundation for a group is the bassist’s number one priority, it is by no means his only job. The bassist also plays a major role in establishing the harmonic foundation. The basic meaning of harmony is together. Harmony occurs when several people are playing different, yet complementary notes at once with pleasing results. When the ear picks up on multiple notes at once, it perceives these in relation to the lowest pitch. Given that the bassist plays at the lowest pitch in the group, the foundation for the harmony is totally based upon this, including how it’s heard.

Music has just three primary components. These are melody, harmony and rhythm. The bassist plays a vital role in two of these three. Thus, although the bassist is frequently overlooked, he is ultimately the proverbial glue that holds the sounds of the group together.