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The importance of low bass in music

tuga

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I don't know if you see a lot of live concerts, but most classical and at least our folk music has bass. It's not always present in recordings, but it's there live. A contrabass goes low, as low as an electric bass goes and a classical pipe organ goes way lower than any string based bass, or even most synths can. And there are also tuba's and bassoons that play bass parts also in a classica orchestra... Bass does not have to be real low subbass to make people dance, but lower subbass works the best.

In our Belgian folk it's mostly (traditionally) a bombardon (in the US called a Helicon and the orignial of a sousaphone) or a tuba and it's ancestors that gives the bass. Since the 1930's a contrabass is also used a lot in it's place, as it's easier to use. Other folk music is probally similar, certainly in Europe.

And carribean music has bass, even the old mento, nyabinghi and calypso records from the 1940's and 1950's that i have have it, mostly done with a contrabass (standing bass), a tuba or a bombardon or sousaphone. And if there are drums but no bass, the kickdrum (or equivalent) is what the people dance to. Son, bata and cuban rumba orchestra's always have a contrabass in their line up. percussion (drum or others) and contrabass are the base of those orchestra, while the other instruments can be a lot (whatever was availeble probally). In traditional african music they also got bass instruments. A kora (used by the mande and fula people in west africa) can go very low. And you also got dedicated bass instruments like the karindula (Congo/Zambia), the bass molo (Ghana), bass akonting (Senegal/Gambia), ...

And i was actually talking about more modern music, that is played by dj's in clubs, parties and festivals where dances are not traditonal rituals but a personal and free expression on the music played.

I understand that. But dance music is not just disco/club music. There's people dancing to traditional music on town-halls and cultural centres and even traditional dance music festivals.
Some of it is played on a single violin, sometimes a tambourine is the only percussion instrument.

The study tests the effect of sub-bass (<40Hz). And most recordings of non-electronic music don't have any information below 30Hz.

Bass instruments are now more readily available and you see gipsy bands playing electric bass or fado accompanied by a double-bass. In my view it's not really necessary or necessarily good. I see it a bit like adding ketchup to a langoustes thermidor dish... But it makes it more palatable to the masses who grew up to the electronic boom-boom, and that is important in a profit-driven world.
 

Vacceo

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For me it's old new actually. As (former) dj specialised in bass heavy music (reggae/dub/jungle) i know the people don't dance to the drums, but to the bass. Cut the bass in your mix and the people stop dancing. It can and is used as a trick to do what is now known as "the drop" in the dj world (removing the bass at the start of a tune, or in a part of the tune and suddenly switch it back on), but in reggae/dub it's done since the early 70's. It creates a heavy reaction of the crowd, that goes wild... It's a trick that always work, in any (dj) genre.
Even if not your genre, I´m sure you know the best moshpits occur with blastbeats on the drums and half-times at the bass. :p

 
OP
Waxx

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Bass instruments are now more readily available and you see gipsy bands playing electric bass or fado accompanied by a double-bass. In my view it's not really necessary or necessarily good. I see it a bit like adding ketchup to a langoustes thermidor dish... But it makes it more palatable to the masses who grew up to the electronic boom-boom, and that is important in a profit-driven world.
That used to be a Bombardon or a Tuba, and they go low also. But they are heavy to carry and not that easy to play right. That is why you see them. Gipsy (Manouche like we call it) music always had a bass as far as we here in Belgium can trace it. And even the most famous gipsy player, the belgian Django Reinhardt his "Hot Club de France" band, had a bass, in that case a contrabass. So bass is not a new thing in that music nor in folk. And fado also had a bass i thought, at least the fado i've seen an recorded in the time i was asked a lot for folk recordings (mainly for radio broadcasts).

This is Belgian Flemish folk by the local very famous singer Willem Vermandere his band. The song is his composition, but in the local westflemish countryside folk style using all kind of guitars, contrabass, accordion and clarinets. Those are the equivalents of instruments that are used since centuries down here like the luit (lute), the "beenviool" (viola da gamba), the "draailier" (hurdy-gurdy) and the "schalmei" (shawm). The recording is from 1987.

 

tuga

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That used to be a Bombardon or a Tuba, and they go low also. But they are heavy to carry and not that easy to play right. That is why you see them. Gipsy (Manouche like we call it) music always had a bass as far as we here in Belgium can trace it. And even the most famous gipsy player, the belgian Django Reinhardt his "Hot Club de France" band, had a bass, in that case a contrabass. So bass is not a new thing in that music nor in folk. And fado also had a bass i thought, at least the fado i've seen an recorded in the time i was asked a lot for folk recordings (mainly for radio broadcasts).

This is Belgian Flemish folk by the local very famous singer Willem Vermandere his band. The song is his composition, but in the local westflemish countryside folk style using all kind of guitars, contrabass, accordion and clarinets. Those are the equivalents of instruments that are used since centuries down here like the luit (lute), the "beenviool" (viola da gamba), the "draailier" (hurdy-gurdy) and the "schalmei" (shawm). The recording is from 1987.


The stage, and large audiences, has also impacted how traditional music is played. It’s now amplified, and includes unexpected instruments. It’s more of a fusion than real traditional.

Gipsy used to be nomad, originally from the Indian subcontinent. Settling down changed their musical habits and style.

It’s great that people like Peter Gabriel or Ry Cooder have brought traditional music to our attention and actually made some great recordings but they can also be blamed for adding ketchup and garlic mayonnaise which may have contaminated the originality of world music forever…
And what role do record labels play here, is it just business, cultural imperialism, a bit of both?
 

Robh3606

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There is Kodo/Japanese drums and Flamenco foot stomps that may have some real energy below 40Hz as simple examples. I know with modern music depending on the type there can be plenty of energy below 40Hz.

Rob :)
 

dualazmak

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Organs are among the few instruments that produce infrasonics. Luckily, electronics delivered us the ultimate blessing from the Audio Gods.

I recently shared a post series on "audio sampler music tracks" (including one post on organ music) where all the tracks were analyzed by Adobe Audition's color spectrum showing the Fq-gain-time 3D distribution. Please refer to my post here and thereafter, and to this summary post.

I also prepared a zip file (6.3 GB) containing all the 60 intact "sampler music tracks" as shared in my post here. If you would be seriously interested in these "audio sampler music tracks" please PM me writing your wish.
 

Scrappy

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This past summer, my regular cover band was playing a dock bar. We surely noticed the bachelorette party at the bar near the stage. Band starts playing, and they’re just carrying on. So I “steered” the subs with delay to sum bass where they were. Yep, sure enough they started dancing. Good times.
 
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