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How your bassline could keep an audience from dancing

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A recent study conducted by Ethan Lusting, a Ph.D. student in Music Theory at Eastman University, indicates that the timbre of your bassline could cause your listeners to find your music more or less “groovy.” He surveyed 102 undergraduate students to find out which provided bassline they found the grooviest. The results?: It turns out you should choose audio filters that keep most of the bass frequencies.

Although the study is relatively limited in scope, testing only four loops with filters applied and asking only students within a limited demographic, the findings could have a huge impact on how your tracks are perceived on the floor. If you really want your crowd to move, it’s probably best to stick with no filter or to use low-pass filters on the bassline for most of the track.

Of course, these decisions are all dependent on what genre and context you’re working in. One of the potential explanations for the participants’ preference for high bass frequencies is that the bassline is often responsible for orienting the listener to your time grid; Lustig and his co-author, Ivan Tan, also suggest that listeners are simply used to associating low frequencies with club dancing.

Either way, these findings could have serious consequences for your own music. It looks like it pays to tend carefully to your basslines.

How could these findings impact your own music making? Let us know on social media!

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