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The Rise of the Bass Line

It's only a recent invention


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Howard Goodall - Channel 4


Mankind has been making music for...well as long at there's been a mankind.

It's one of the things that makes us human.

But the bass line as something that supports, drives and colors music...that's a "recent" invention.

How recent?

Well, four centuries old which may seem like a lot, but compared to tens of thousands of years it's just a blip on the screen of time.

By way of comparison, Jazz is only around 100 years old.

What came before the modern bass?

Melody and rhythm. Maybe a single note drone. And that was it. It's still "it" in many parts of the world (not to say that those elements can't get very, very sophisticated.)

The bass mastery we hear today is, in the vast scheme of things, very modern and very new.

And of course no one lays down a bass line like our jazzmen (and women.)

The jazz world needs a Howard Goodall.

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