- Bass run
A bass run (or "bass break") is a short
instrumental breakor fill in which the bass instrument, such as an electric bass or a double bass(or instruments, in the case of a marching band) and the basslineare given the forefront (van der Merwe 1989, p.283). The bass part for a bass run often differs from the usual bass accompanimentstyle, in terms of the register, timbre, or melodic style that is used, or the number of notes per beat which are played.
A bass run may be composed by the performer or by an
arrangerprior to a performance, or it may be improvised onstage by the performer using scales, arpeggios, and standard licks and riffs. In some cases, a bass run may incorporate a display of virtuosotechniques such as rapid passages or high notes. During a bass run, the main vocal or melodyline usually stops, and in some cases, the percussion or drums may also stop.
In a rock song in which the bassline consists of low-pitched quarter notes played on the electric bass, a bass run may consist of a rapid sequence of sixteenth notes in a higher register, or of a melodic
riffplayed in a higher register. In some cases, the bassist will select a "brighter"-sounding pickup or increase the treble response of the instrument for a bass run, so that it will be easier to hear.
In a pop song in which the bassline consists of notes plucked on the electric bass, a bass run may consist of several bars of percussive slapping and popping.
funksong in which the bassline already consists of percussive slapping and popping, a bass run may consist of a virtuostic display of rapid slapping and popping techniques combined with techniques such as glissando, note-bending, and harmonics.
jump bluestune in which the bassline consists of low-pitched quarter notes played on the double bass in a scalar walking bassstyle, a bass run may consist of a bar of swung eighth notes played using a percussive slap bass style, in which the right hand strikes the strings against the fingerboard.
swingtune in which the bassline consists of low-pitched quarter notes played on the double bass in a scalar walking bass style, a bass run may consist of a descending chromatic scale played in a higher register.
In a bluegrass tune in which the bassline consists of low-pitched quarter notes played on the double bass on the root and fifth of each
chordon beats one and three (of a 4/4 tune), a bass run may consist of a walking bassline played for several bars.
marching bandcontext, a bass run may consist of a several bar unaccompanied passage composed for the tubas and sousaphones which displays either rapid passages of notes or higher-register techniques.
The technique seems to have originated in the marches of the "Sousa school", though its resemblance to call and response techniques familiar to
African American musicians indicates an earlier origin. (van der Merwe 1989, p.283)
*van der Merwe, Peter (1989). "Origins of the Popular Style: The Antecedents of Twentieth-Century Popular Music". Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-316121-4.
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