On the Origin of the Bass Face

Everyone likes music. If you are going to disagree with this statement, then I must immediately psychologize you to be an obnoxiously argumentative person. Just relax for a moment and go with it. Pretty much absolutely everyone likes music.

Music, or as I like to call it, organized sound, has been around since basically forever. Although I couldn’t find the article, I think I remember reading that archaeologists found it buried near the campsites of Neanderthals somewhere. Regardless, it is ingrained into our souls and is as much a part of the human essence as our fear of public humiliation or the urge to spit off of high elevations. It possesses a strangely unique power over our spirit. Unless you’re watching some sort of audio visualization program, music is something that we cannot see, smell, taste, or touch, and yet, we feel it. We feel it inside of, us gently massaging the tenderest parts of our hearts. Music has the ability to alter our mood, and it can even stimulate the physical movement of our bodies, which for most people is termed “dancing”. It has been reported that some people have become so overcome with dancing that they wouldn’t stop even in the face of death. If, for whatever reason, you have exceptional control over your body and refuse to let music overpower you, you become “such a boring person that never wants to do anything.” This stark reality is pretty unfair because kids are taught to control their impulses in school.

Every person will feel music differently, and people will seek out the conditions that allow them to gain as deep a connection as possible to this special place in their hearts. You might find one person putting on a tuxedo and sitting silently in a tiny wooden seat for three hours, while his neighbor might be in a Midwestern cornfield drinking malt liquor and spreading STD’s while wearing a scary clown mask. For many, though, the ultimate way of feeling music is to become musicians create it themselves. Of this group of romantics, no faction feels the music quite as intense as the player of the bass guitar.

The bass player is known for their role as the keeper of rhythm. If you listen closely, you can even hear their input in some songs. Because their job as musicians is pretty much the easiest one around, they have a lot of extra concentration and energy they can devote to making impressively silly faces to express just how intense their connection to the music is. This facial phenomenon is known as the “bass face”, and no self-respecting bass player will shred the instrument without one.

There are all sorts of different bass faces. Some of the more common ones include:

The trying to kiss you on a roller coaster face

The I'm going to chop you up and bury you in a swamp face

The taking my first shit in 8 days face

The sunlight in my eyes when I just got up face

The hey little girl, want some candy face

The having a root canal face

The sucking on a lemon face

The I'm so going to date rape you later face

The what the fuck is that face

The I'm coming face, as seen on the standup bass

The I'm totally sleeping face

The I'm not even going to pretend like I'm playing this thing anymore face

The cooling down my soup face, as seen on the standup bass

The Night at the Roxbury face

The motorboating face

The "Noooooo" face, as seen in movies when the villain does something awful to the hero

I don’t play the bass, but I have one. Someone left it at my apartment after a party and didn’t see it worth a return trip to my place. It’s old and crappy and one of the strings is broken, but it does make sound. With my bass guitar in hand, I set out to discover the cause to this curious condition.

I recorded a series of videos of myself making nonsense noises with the instrument. In each video, I intensified the contortions of my bass face, with the last one resembling some sort of exorcism on camera. I then posted them to YouTube, and awaited feedback on my skills.

Unsurprisingly, people loved my videos. They received thousands of hits, and it seems I even inspired others to do their own research as “response” videos came pouring in of people doing their own bass face. What is important to note, though, is that there was a direct correlation between peoples’ appreciation of my playing with the amount of deformity on my face. This led me to an astounding scientific breakthrough:

Whether they know it or not, musicians, and especially bass players, make extraordinary faces while feeling the music as a result of an evolutionary adaptation to convince people that they actually know what they’re doing on stage. Subject to the rules of natural selection, the players with the most outlandish faces will be the ones that are the most convincing.

In the end, it is a dog eat dog world out there. In the life of a bass player, this means that you better get your bass face ready.

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “On the Origin of the Bass Face

  1. robvitolo

    “such a boring person that never wants to do anything”

    Hahaha. Now who could that be?

  2. Hilarious post! Survival of the fittest (facest?) bass player.

  3. Wow, that actually had me laughing!

    Why isn’t there any “Have a good day” face?

  4. There should be a link to your YouTube videos sir and/or madam.

  5. “the cooling down my soup face” I love it!!

  6. love your post! I’m a bass player and sometimes I totally make the “sucking on a lemon” face. haha

  7. I think that all the members of Jethro Tull probably make the ‘Blowing on hot soup face.’ You know, with the flute and all….
    Great post!!

  8. Excellent treatise on Bass Face. Mind if I post it on http://bassfaces.tumblr.com, we have some bassfaces in common. No hard feelings if it ain’t your bag. Cheers.

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