6 – Ostinato Bass
An ostinato musical pattern is one that repeats – usually whilst other elements change against it. We explored the idea in depth in this Passing Notes feature. The ostinato became a staple of early jacking house tracks, typified by ‘House Nation’ by The Housemaster Boyz, an alter-ego of Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk:
This example is a little different from Mr Fingers’ ‘Can You Feel It’, mentioned earlier, as the bass doesn’t take the lead. These types of bassline tend to be more rhythmic – contributing to the overall groove – and rely on the interaction between kick and bass to create movement and forward motion in the track. In the following example, note how small changes in the arrangement help to keep things interesting even though the bassline simply loops over and over:
Ninetoes’ ‘Finder (The Path)’ makes use of an unobtrusive sub-heavy bass (with little low-mid energy), which repeats while the more important vocals and steel drums take the lead:
As a more complex example, Carl Craig’s remix of Theo Parrish’s ‘Falling Up’ combines the ostinato bass approach with some serious sub bass:
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