The role of the bass guitar is more than just the low end sound. It plays between melody and rhythm. In regards to metal and rock music, you are going to find that some players and teachers consider the instrument a part of the overall big picture. In the analogy from David Ellefson of the rock guitar method, he discusses it as a brick and mortar option in construction.
In that framework, you will find that it’s a matter of bricks and the bass is the mortar that glues two bricks together. So the drummer will be one brick and the guitar will be another brick. Between those two things is the electric bass guitar. The role of the bass in metal is to be the glue that helps push the sound. Listen to a song without that, and you will not have bricks that are essentially glued.
Or look at it in a math equation.
1 + 1
The equation there showcases another way of looking of the role of bass guitar in metal music. 1 guitar and 1 drum set is put together by the + symbol. Or another analogy. A sandwich. The meat in a sandwich or the middle of a sandwich is none other than the bass guitar.
Western Culture and 4/4 Time Frame
The high hat on a drum set plays the most notes in rock. You’ll hear it hit every single time, or a time signature of 1, 2, 3, and of course 4.
The bass drum will play on 1 and 3.
The snare drum will play on 2 and 4.
Not all music, but the majority of hard rock and metal will always shave this timing. 4/4 timing is the standard timing that you will see in bass playing.
Metal bands play fast and loud. That all doesn’t matter when you look at the time signature, sheet music and more. The bass player in any band will be in timing and framework alongside the drummer. The guitar player then can go along and play a number of different chords, solos, and more. Rhythm guitar will come in and do other things or play in unison with certain elements of a song.
Want to Learn More?
This is not meant to be a lesson, but more of an explanation of the role of bass guitar in metal music. We are going to be looking at metal music in the coming days, as we looked at Green Day’s bass player Mike Dirnt and a little bit of that punk sound that he provides the band.
You can look at previous posts and get a feel for that. However, we’re moving forward with more attention on the guitar. If you want to learn, check out a bass guitar learning dvd here, and slowly master the greatest instrument in rock. At least in my opinion.