Bass and treble explainedThe terms bass and treble refer to the frequency of sounds. They are commonly used in a musical context, either with regards to the instrument or to the notes that the instrument plays. Whilst some instruments, such as a pianos and harps can play both high and low notes, most instruments do not cover such an extensive range as this, and are therefore classified as either bass or treble.

The difference between bass and treble

Simply put, bass is the low end of the sound spectrum. This means that the noises are very deep and they are often said to be felt as much as heard, which is why this is the part that you dance to when listening to a song. Common instruments that are used to play bass notes are the bass guitar, tubas and double bass, whilst most parts of a drum kit are also bass instruments. In some instances, a non-bass instrument can be used as a bass, as is often the case in a string quartet where a cello assumes the role.

In contrast, instruments that play higher notes are known as treble instruments. In an average pop or rock song, the vocals and lead guitar will usually be treble, with additional treble from the cymbals and hi-hats of a drum kit, though there are also many other instruments that can play high notes. In some cases, an instrument can be known to play either set of notes. For example, a guitar can either be designed as a bass or as a treble, whilst this is also true of a wide range of instruments from each of the families, including, but not limited to, saxophones, clarinets, horns, flutes, bells and trumpets.

Other Uses

As well as in music, bass and treble are often used in reference to settings on electrical appliances such as televisions. These can be used to change the set-up of the sound system, depending on the acoustics of the room or for personal preference, and high end speakers will allow for detailed fine-tuning of the sound output.

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