In what will come as no surprise to anyone who loves rock n’ roll or the blues, researchers have now determined that the bass is the backbone of any song. Turns out our brains can find the rhythm more easily when it is played in a lower tone. In other words, bassists are far more important to a song’s structure that previously thought. Take THAT, lead singers and drummers!
According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, people are more perceptive of the changes in the lower-pitched notes of a bass guitar than the higher-pitched notes of other instruments.
A team of researchers led by psychologist Laurel Trainor of McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, found that our brains are better at catching mistakes in lower notes. The team used EEG (otherwise known as electroencephalography) to see how our brains react to react to various notes. They found that participants were better at detecting whether the music was off when listening to low-pitched notes versus high-pitched notes. People also were much better at tapping their fingers along with the songs in lower tones.
So, it’s official—we all need to give more props to bassists. The bass holds down a song, filling it with depth and gravitas. Without them, music is boring and lacks structure. Like a taco with no shell. Or a pizza with no dough. Sure, the fillings and toppings may get all the attention, but without a shell or a crust you would just have a pile of ingredients sitting around with nothing to hold them together.
Another study from Northwestern University found that music with prominent bass makes us feel like we can take on the world. When we’re listening to songs with heavy bass, we feel more powerful and confident—like we can tackle that major presentation at work or do an extra set of crunches at the gym. Remember that next time you need a little extra motivation!
The bassists of the world may not nab as many of the babes or accolades. And there are no flashy solos or shredding. But, bassists are the backbone of any song. Think of Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused” without the wizardry of John Paul Jones. Or Biggie’s “Hypnotize” without the sweet bass line holding it down. Our lives would be gray and boring without the rhythm of the bass. So, here’s a toast to the bassists out there. We promise to pay more attention to you at our next concert!
[h/t: Mental Floss]