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Where Did the Bass Come From: Origin

The bass is one of the lowest sounding instruments in the strings family. It provides pieces (especially orchestral pieces) a great deep and resounding tune to the overall music. Since the bass can reach tones almost no other string instrument can, it truly does provide invaluable music to the entire piece. But where did this majestic instrument come from?

It was in 1516 when the earliest illustration in our history of the string bass was first recorded.

However, written records show proof of “viols” as large as a person and a deep register tuning first found, notably, amongst the viol family. These instruments were tuned in many different years such as using fourths or a combination third and fourth tuning.

Astoundingly, research has shown that there have been as many as 50 different tunings that were used during the history of the string bass. It has also been discovered that, until the tuning of the early 20th century, a majority of composers and musicians requested for, particularly, notes lower than the low E.

Other than this, early bass instruments also frequently and usually had a few strings (some ranging up to six strings). These were gradually and eventually adapted to three or the more normally seen four-string modern instrument. Furthermore, early bass instruments also had a type of gut fretting which was created from gut strings that were wrapped horizontally at various intervals along the fingerboard. This was to generate frets at each semitone.

The bass is definitely one of the most famous as well as widely-played instruments in the musical scene and it is no wonder why. It creates an unmatchable sound which adds to the complexity of music and orchestras. More than that, it is an instrument that has transcended time and comes from a rich history.


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