The World’s First Bass Guitar (1936)

Image via Ebay

The big, stand-up dou­ble bass or “bull fid­dle,” as it’s been called, dates to the 15th cen­tu­ry. The design has evolved, but its four strings and EADG tun­ing have remained stan­dard fea­tures of bass­es for sev­er­al hun­dred years of clas­si­cal and, lat­er, jazz, coun­try, and ear­ly rock and roll. Its boom­ing tone and unwieldy size notwith­stand­ing, the ven­er­a­ble instru­ment is a mem­ber of the vio­lin fam­i­ly. So, when did the four-string bass become a bass gui­tar?

Leo Fender’s 1951 Pre­ci­sion Bass is fre­quent­ly cit­ed as the first — “such a spe­cial instru­ment,” writes the Fend­er com­pa­ny, that “if Clarence Leo Fend­er were to be remem­bered for noth­ing else, sure­ly it would be the Pre­ci­sion — an instru­ment — indeed a whole new kind of instru­ment — that sim­ply did­n’t exist before he invent­ed it.”

Pri­or to Fender’s inno­va­tion, it was thought that the ear­li­est exam­ples of elec­tric bass­es were stand-up mod­els like Regal’s Elec­tri­fied Dou­ble Bass and Rickenbacker’s Elec­tro-Bass-Viol, both dat­ing from 1936.

Image via Ebay

But as his­to­ri­an and writer Peter Blecha found out, the first elec­tric bass gui­tar actu­al­ly appeared that same year, invent­ed in ‘36 by “musician/instructor/basement tin­ker­er” Paul H. Tut­marc, “a pio­neer in elec­tric pick­up design who mar­ket­ed a line of elec­tric lap­steel gui­tars under the Audiovox brand out of the unlike­ly town of Seat­tle.” Through­out the thir­ties and for­ties, notes Gui­tar World, Tut­marc “made a num­ber of gui­tars and ampli­fiers under the Audiovox brand.” In 1935, he invent­ed a “New Type Bull Fid­dle,” an elec­tric stand-up bass. The Seat­tle Post-Intel­li­gencer announced it at the time as good news for the “poor bass-fid­dler… who has to lug his big bull-fid­dle home” at the end of the night.

The fol­low­ing year, Tut­marc com­bined his instru­ment-mak­ing skills into the world’s first bass gui­tar, the Audiovox 736 Elec­tric Bass Fid­dle, a true orig­i­nal and a “rad­i­cal design break­through,” Blecha writes. Tutmarc’s instru­ment solved the bassist’s prob­lems of being inaudi­ble in a big band set­ting and being bare­ly able to car­ry one’s instru­ment to and from a gig. The 736 did not catch on out­side Seat­tle, but it did get out a lot around the city.

Tut­marc “gave the bass to his wife Lor­raine, who used it while per­form­ing with the Tut­marc fam­i­ly band. [He] also sold copies to var­i­ous gospel, Hawai­ian, and coun­try play­ers.” (The bass cost around $65, or $1,150 today, with a sep­a­rate amp that sold for $95.) Now, there are only three known Audiovox 736s in exis­tence: one held by a pri­vate col­lec­tor, anoth­er at Seattle’s Muse­um of Pop Cul­ture, and a third auc­tioned a few years ago on Ebay for $23,000.

Did Leo Fend­er see one of Tut­mar­c’s cre­ations when he invent­ed the first tru­ly mass-mar­ket elec­tric bass gui­tar? Per­haps, but it hard­ly mat­ters. It was Fender’s instru­ment that would catch on — for good — fif­teen years after the Audiovox 736, and it was Tutmarc’s fate to be large­ly for­got­ten by musi­cal his­to­ry, “des­tined to remain obscure,” Blecha writes, “to the extent that, in the wake of Leo Fender’s Pre­ci­sion Bass… the very exis­tence of a pre­vi­ous elec­tric fret­ted bass (played hor­i­zon­tal­ly) was effec­tive­ly for­got­ten.” See an intro­duc­tion and demon­stra­tion of the first bass gui­tar just above.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Behold the First Elec­tric Gui­tar: The 1931 “Fry­ing Pan”

The Neu­ro­science of Bass: New Study Explains Why Bass Instru­ments Are Fun­da­men­tal to Music

Visu­al­iz­ing the Bass Play­ing Style of Motown’s Icon­ic Bassist James Jamer­son: “Ain’t No Moun­tain High Enough,” “For Once in My Life” & More

Leg­endary Stu­dio Musi­cian Car­ol Kaye Presents 150 Free Tips for Prac­tic­ing & Play­ing the Bass

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

That Far Corner: Frank Lloyd Wright in Los Angeles–A Free Online Documentary

From KCET (the pub­lic broad­cast­er serv­ing SoCal) comes the doc­u­men­tary, That Far Cor­ner: Frank Lloyd Wright in Los Ange­les. “Dur­ing his time spent in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia in the late 1910s and ear­ly 1920s, Frank Lloyd Wright accel­er­at­ed the search for L.A.‘s authen­tic archi­tec­ture that was suit­able to the city’s cul­ture and land­scape. Writer/Director Chris Hawthorne, archi­tec­ture crit­ic for the Los Ange­les Times, explores the hous­es the leg­endary archi­tect built in Los Ange­les. The doc­u­men­tary also delves into the crit­ic’s provoca­tive the­o­ry that these homes were also a means of artis­tic cathar­sis for Wright, who was recov­er­ing from a vio­lent trag­ic episode in his life.” You can watch That Far Cor­ner online. It will also be added to our list of Free Doc­u­men­taries, a sub­set of col­lec­tion 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How Frank Lloyd Wright’s Son Invent­ed Lin­coln Logs, “America’s Nation­al Toy” (1916)

12 Famous Frank Lloyd Wright Hous­es Offer Vir­tu­al Tours: Hol­ly­hock House, Tal­iesin West, Falling­wa­ter & More

Frank Lloyd Wright Cre­ates a List of the 10 Traits Every Aspir­ing Artist Needs

Frank Lloyd Wright Reflects on Cre­ativ­i­ty, Nature and Reli­gion in Rare 1957 Audio

The Mod­ernist Gas Sta­tions of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe

The Frank Lloyd Wright Lego Set

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Art Historian Provides Hilarious & Surprisingly Efficient Art History Lessons on TikTok

@_theiconoclassIf youse come at me again for my Aus­tralian pro­nun­ci­a­tion I swear 😂 #arthis­to­ry #arthis­to­ry­tik­tok #baroque♬ orig­i­nal sound — AyseD­eniz

Art His­to­ri­an Mary McGillivray believes art appre­ci­a­tion is an acquired skill. Her Tik­Tok project, The Icon­o­class, is bring­ing those lack­ing for­mal art his­to­ry edu­ca­tion up to speed.

The 25-year-old Aus­tralian’s pithy obser­va­tions dou­ble as sur­pris­ing­ly stur­dy mnemon­ics, use­ful for nav­i­gat­ing world class col­lec­tions both live and online.

Some high­lights from her whirl­wind guide to the Baroque peri­od, above:

If it looks like the chaos after black­out where every­one is stum­bling around in the dark under one soli­tary emer­gency light, it’s a Car­avag­gio.

If there’s at least one per­son look­ing to the cam­era like they’re on The Office, it’s a Velázquez.

If there’s a room with some nice fur­ni­ture, a win­dow, and some women just going about their every­day busi­ness, it’s a Ver­meer.

Rather than the tra­di­tion­al chrono­log­i­cal pro­gres­sion, McGillivray mix­es and match­es, often in response to com­ments and Patre­on requests.

When a com­menter on the Baroque Tik­Tok took umbrage that she referred to Artemisia Gen­tileschi by first name only, McGillivray fol­lowed up with an edu­ca­tion­al video explain­ing the con­ven­tion from the 17th-cen­tu­ry per­spec­tive.

@_theiconoclassReply to @rajendzzz her dad was hot, com­ment if you agree #baroque #artemisia #arthis­to­ryclass♬ Guilty Love — Lady­hawke & Broods

At the urg­ing of a Patre­on sub­scriber, she leaps across four cen­turies to dis­cov­er an unex­pect­ed kin­ship between Cubism and Renais­sance painters, using George Braque’s Man with a Gui­tar and San­dro Botticelli’s Four Scenes from the Ear­ly Life of Saint Zeno­bius. One is attempt­ing to escape the shack­les of per­spec­tive by show­ing sur­faces not vis­i­ble when regard­ing a sub­ject from a sin­gle point. The oth­er is using a sin­gle space to depict mul­ti­ple moments in a subject’s life simul­ta­ne­ous­ly.

@_theiconoclass#arthis­to­ry #arthis­to­ry­tik­tok #renais­sance #cubism #medievaltik­tok♬ orig­i­nal sound — Fin­ian Hack­ett

McGillivray is will­ing to be seen learn­ing along with her fol­low­ers. She’s open about the fact that she prefers Giot­to and Fra Angeli­co to con­tem­po­rary art (as per­haps befits an art his­to­ri­an whose face is more 1305 than 2021). Artist Dominic White’s wear­able, envi­ron­men­tal sculp­ture Hood­ie Empa­thy Suit does­n’t do much for her until a con­ver­sa­tion with the exhibit­ing gallery’s direc­tor helps ori­ent her to White’s objec­tives.

@_theiconoclassWant to see me tack­le more con­tem­po­rary art? Big thanks to @mprg_vic ❤️🪶#arthis­to­ry­tik­tok #arthis­to­ry #con­tem­po­rar­yart #art­gallery♬ orig­i­nal sound — Mary McGillivray

She tips her hand in an inter­view with Pedes­tri­an TV:

I’m not very inter­est­ed in decid­ing what is art and what isn’t. The whole “what is art” ques­tion has nev­er been very impor­tant to me. The ques­tions I pre­fer to ask are: Why was this image made?

She rec­om­mends art crit­ic John Berg­er’s 1972 four-part series Ways of See­ing to fans eager to expand beyond the Icon­o­class:

It’s got all the things you would expect from a 1970s BBC pro­duc­tion – wide col­lared shirts, long hair, smok­ing on tele­vi­sion – plus some of the most influ­en­tial insights into how we look at art and also how we look at the world around us.

Watch Mary McGillivray’s The Icon­o­class here. Sup­port her Patre­on here.

@_theiconoclassWant a part two? 😏😘 #arthis­to­ry­tik­tok #arthis­to­ry­ma­jor #learnon­tik­tok♬ Rasputin (Sin­gle Ver­sion) — Boney M.

via Bored Pan­da

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Free Art & Art His­to­ry Cours­es

One Minute Art His­to­ry: Cen­turies of Artis­tic Styles Get Packed Into a Short Exper­i­men­tal Ani­ma­tion

An Intro­duc­tion to 100 Impor­tant Paint­ings with Videos Cre­at­ed by Smarthis­to­ry

Steve Mar­tin on How to Look at Abstract Art

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her June 7 for a Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain: The Peri­od­i­cal Cica­da, a free vir­tu­al vari­ety hon­or­ing the 17-Year Cicadas of Brood X. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

The Art of Balancing Stones: How Artists Use Simple Materials to Make Impossible Sculptures in Nature

Not so long ago, a wave of long-form entreaties rolled through social media insist­ing that we stop build­ing rock cairns. Like many who scrolled past them, I could­n’t quite imag­ine the offend­ing struc­tures they meant, let alone recall con­struct­ing one myself. The cairns in ques­tion turned out, mun­dane­ly, to be those lit­tle stacks of flat rocks seen in parks, along­side trails and streams. They’re as com­mon in South Korea, where I live, as they seem to be in the Unit­ed States. Both coun­tries also share a great enthu­si­asm for Insta­gram, and it’s the appar­ent Insta­gram­ma­bil­i­ty of these cairns that has increased their num­ber (and con­se­quent eco­log­i­cal and cul­tur­al harm) in recent years.

No mat­ter how many likes they gar­ner, these com­mon cairns require lit­tle or no skill in the build­ing. The same can hard­ly be said of rock bal­anc­ing, an art that demands a great deal more dis­ci­pline and patience than many an influ­encer can muster. The Wired video at the top of the post pro­files one of the most famous liv­ing rock-bal­ancers, a Cana­di­an named Michael Grab.

“One of my core dri­ves is to make the for­ma­tion as impos­si­ble as pos­si­ble,” he says, refer­ring to the appar­ent defi­ance of grav­i­ty per­formed by all the rocks he finds and arranges into stacks, arcs, orbs, and oth­er unlike­ly shapes. In fact, it is grav­i­ty alone that holds his art­works togeth­er — and repeat­ed­ly destroys them in the count­less tri­als and errors before their com­ple­tion.

Yes, Grab has an Insta­gram account: Grav­i­ty Glue, on which he show­cas­es his pre­car­i­ous­ly sol­id sculp­tures as well as their nat­ur­al con­texts. So does Jon­na Jin­ton, a Swedish “artist, pho­tog­ra­ph­er and Youtu­ber” who also bal­ances rocks. “It’s such a great way to also bal­ance myself,” she says in the short video just above, “and to cre­ate some­thing beau­ti­ful at the same time.” For her, the art has become a form of med­i­ta­tion: “As I try to find a tiny, tiny lit­tle bal­ance point, my thoughts are com­plete­ly silent, and that’s a very good feel­ing.” Jin­ton does­n’t say whether she per­son­al­ly ensures the destruc­tion of her works, as Grab does. But doing so, as one should note before enter­ing the rock-bal­ancer lifestyle, may keep you on the bet­ter side of the eco­log­i­cal rec­om­men­da­tions and indeed the law. But then the afore­men­tioned anti-cair­nism seemed to hit its zenith in ear­ly 2020, since which time, it’s fair to say, the world has had more press­ing con­cerns.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Philo­soph­i­cal Appre­ci­a­tion of Rocks in Chi­na & Japan: A Short Intro­duc­tion to an Ancient Tra­di­tion

Dis­cov­er the Japan­ese Muse­um Ded­i­cat­ed to Col­lect­ing Rocks That Look Like Human Faces

Watch a Mas­ter­piece Emerge from a Sol­id Block of Stone

A Mod­ern Drum­mer Plays a Rock Gong, a Per­cus­sion Instru­ment from Pre­his­toric Times

Watch an Archae­ol­o­gist Play the “Litho­phone,” a Pre­his­toric Instru­ment That Let Ancient Musi­cians Play Real Clas­sic Rock

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Why Do Tech Billionaires Make for Good TV Villains? Pretty Much Pop #93 Considers “Made for Love,” et al.

The tech genius has become the go-to bad guy in recent films: They’re our mod­ern mad sci­en­tists with all imag­in­able resources and sci­ence at their com­mand, able to release dystopic tech­nol­o­gy to sur­veil, con­trol, and pos­si­bly mur­der us. Even Lex Luthor was made into a “tech bro” in Bat­man v. Super­man.

Your Pret­ty Much Pop hosts Mark Lin­sen­may­er, Eri­ca Spyres, and Bri­an dis­cuss the HBO Max series Made for Love star­ring Cristin Mil­i­oti, as well as Alex Gar­land’s Devs, Mike Judge’s Sil­i­con Val­ley, and Jed Rothestein’s doc­u­men­tary WeWork: Or the Mak­ing and Break­ing of a $47 Bil­lion Uni­corn. How does this trope work in com­e­dy vs. seri­ous media? How does it relate to real-life tech moguls? Can women be vil­lains of this sort, or is a cri­tique of tox­ic mas­culin­i­ty part of this sort of depic­tion?

To learn more, read what we read:

Hear more of this pod­cast at This episode includes bonus dis­cus­sion that you can access by sup­port­ing the pod­cast at This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts.

Leonardo da Vinci Designs the Ideal City: See 3D Models of His Radical Design

Le Cor­busier, Frank Lloyd WrightRay Brad­bury: they and oth­er 20th-cen­tu­ry nota­bles all gave seri­ous thought to the ide­al city, what it would include and what it would exclude. To that extent we could describe them, in 21st-cen­tu­ry par­lance, as urban­ists. But the roots of the dis­ci­pline — or area of research, or pro­fes­sion, or obses­sion — we call urban­ism run all the way back to the 15th cen­tu­ry. At that time, ear­ly in the Euro­pean Renais­sance, thinkers were recon­sid­er­ing a host of con­di­tions tak­en for grant­ed in the medieval peri­od, from man’s place in the uni­verse (and indeed the uni­verse itself) to the dis­pos­al of his garbage. Few of these fig­ures thought as far ahead, or across as many fields as Leonar­do da Vin­ci.

In addi­tion to his accom­plish­ments in art, sci­ence, engi­neer­ing, and archi­tec­ture, the quin­tes­sen­tial “Renais­sance man” also tried his hand at urban­ism. More specif­i­cal­ly, he includ­ed in his note­books designs for what he saw as an ide­al city. “Leonar­do was 30 when he moved to Milan in around 1482,” writes Engi­neer­ing and Tech­nol­o­gy’s Hilary Clarke.

“The city he found was a crowd­ed medieval war­ren of build­ings, with no san­i­ta­tion. Soon after the young painter had arrived, it was hit by an out­break of the bubon­ic plague that killed 50,000 peo­ple — more than a third of the city’s pop­u­la­tion at the time.” This could well have prompt­ed him to draw up his plan, which dates between 1487 and 1490, for a clean­er and more effi­cient urban envi­ron­ment.

While it would­n’t have been par­tic­u­lar­ly hard to envi­sion a less dirty and dis­or­dered set­ting than the late medieval Euro­pean city, Leonar­do, true to form, per­formed a thor­ough­go­ing act of reimag­i­na­tion. “Draw­ing on the knowl­edge he had gained from study­ing Milan’s canals, Leonar­do want­ed to use water to con­nect the city like a cir­cu­la­to­ry sys­tem,” writes Clarke, who adds that Leonar­do was also study­ing human anato­my at the time. “His ide­al town-plan­ning prin­ci­ple was to have a mul­ti-tiered city, which also includ­ed an under­ground water­way to flush away efflu­ent.” The top tier would have all the hous­es, squares and oth­er pub­lic build­ings; “the bot­tom tier was for the poor, goods and traf­fic — hors­es and carts — and ran on the same lev­el as the canals and basins, so wag­ons could be eas­i­ly offloaded.”

Though its ambi­tion would have seemed fan­tas­ti­cal in the 15th cen­tu­ry, Leonar­do’s city plan every­where mar­shals his con­sid­er­able engi­neer­ing knowl­edge to address prac­ti­cal prob­lems. He had a real loca­tion in mind — along the Tici­no Riv­er, which runs through mod­ern-day Italy and Switzer­land — and planned details right down to the spi­ral stair­cas­es in every build­ing. He insist­ed on spi­rals, Clarke notes, “because they lacked cor­ners, mak­ing it hard­er for men to uri­nate,” but they also add an ele­gance to his vision of the ver­ti­cal city, a notion that strikes us as obvi­ous today but was unknown then. Of course, Leonar­do was a man ahead of his time, and the 3D-ren­dered and phys­i­cal mod­els of his ide­al city in these videos from the Ide­al Spaces Work­ing Group and Italy’s Museo Nazionale del­la Scien­za e del­la Tec­nolo­gia Leonar­do da Vin­ci make one won­der if his plan would­n’t look both allur­ing and impos­si­bly rad­i­cal to urban­ists even today.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How Leonar­do da Vin­ci Drew an Accu­rate Satel­lite Map of an Ital­ian City (1502)

The Medieval City Plan Gen­er­a­tor: A Fun Way to Cre­ate Your Own Imag­i­nary Medieval Cities

Frank Lloyd Wright Designs an Urban Utopia: See His Hand-Drawn Sketch­es of Broad­acre City (1932)

Denmark’s Utopi­an Gar­den City Built Entire­ly in Cir­cles: See Astound­ing Aer­i­al Views of Brønd­by Have­by

The Utopi­an, Social­ist Designs of Sovi­et Cities

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Hear the Earliest Recorded Customer Complaint Letter: From Ancient Sumeria 1750 BC

Three-thou­sand, sev­en-hun­dred, and sev­en­ty-one years ago, in the city of Dil­mun, near Ur in Mesopotamia, there was a mer­chant named Ea-nasir. His busi­ness was in sell­ing met­al ingots that he pur­chased in the Per­sian Gulf. Was he a good mer­chant? Not accord­ing to one of his cus­tomers, Nan­ni. If Yelp had exist­ed back in 1750 BC, Nan­ni would def­i­nite­ly have giv­en Ea-nasir a one-star review.

We know this because Nanni’s com­plaint about Ea-nasir, writ­ten in Akka­di­an cuneiform, still exists. The tiny 4.5x2x1 inch tablet is cur­rent­ly on dis­play at the British Muse­um, and was dis­cov­ered by archae­ol­o­gist Sir Leonard Woo­ley in his 1920s exca­va­tion of Ur.

In the video above, Voic­es of the Pasts David Kel­ly brings Nanni’s com­plaint to life with his read­ing of the com­plaint.

Ea-nasir had agreed to sell cop­per ingots to Nan­ni, who sent a ser­vant with some mon­ey to pick them up. Not only were the ingots of low qual­i­ty, but Ea-nasir was rude to the ser­vant, giv­ing him the ol’ “take it or leave it” treat­ment. And not only that, but the ser­vant had to trav­el through ene­my ter­ri­to­ry. And for all the things Nanni’s done for Ea-nasir! (You can just imag­ine Nan­ni pick­ing out a fresh clay tablet and get­ting down to some furi­ous cuneiformin’.)

David Kelly’s read­ing brings out some of the haughty anger from Nanni’s com­plaint, but I won­der if Kel­ly is being too nice. Maybe Voic­es of the Past should hire a New York cab­bie to have a go the next time they find some sev­er­al-mil­len­nia-old ephemera from Ea-nasir’s for­mer busi­ness quar­ters. We don’t know if Nan­ni ever set­tled his dis­pute, but appar­ent­ly he wasn’t the only one.

The room that Sir Leonard exca­vat­ed con­tained many com­plaints from many cus­tomers, includ­ing sev­er­al back and forths from frus­trat­ed peo­ple all over Mesopotamia. Accord­ing to this Forbes arti­cle, Ea-nasir did have a legit prof­itable busi­ness once, but as his debt grew, the cred­i­tors came call­ing, and he began to stiff peo­ple. What makes Nanni’s let­ter stand out is that he used both the front and back of the tablet to write his with­er­ing assess­ment. We’ve all seen those kind of let­ters.

The full text from Nan­ni reads:

Now, when you had come, you spoke say­ing thus: ‘I will give good ingots to Gim­il-Sin’; this you said to me when you had come, but you have not done it. You have offered bad ingots to my mes­sen­ger, say­ing ‘If you will take it, take it; if you will not take it, go away.’ Who am I that you are treat­ing me in this man­ner — treat­ing me with such con­tempt? and that between gen­tle­men such as we are. I have writ­ten to you to receive my mon­ey, but you have neglect­ed [to return] it. Repeat­ed­ly you have made them [mes­sen­gers] return to me emp­ty-hand­ed through for­eign coun­try. Who is there amongst the Dil­mun traders who has act­ed against me in this way? You have treat­ed my mes­sen­ger with con­tempt. And fur­ther with regard to the sil­ver that you have tak­en with you from my house you make this dis­cus­sion. And on your behalf I gave 18 tal­ents of cop­per to the palace, and Sumi-abum also gave 18 tal­ents of cop­per, apart from the fact that we issued the sealed doc­u­ment to the tem­ple of Samas. With regard to that cop­per, as you have treat­ed me, you have held back my mon­ey in a for­eign ter­ri­to­ry, although you are oblig­at­ed to hand it over to me intact. You will learn that here in Ur I will not accept from you cop­per that is not good. In my house, I will choose and take the ingots one by one. Because you have treat­ed me with con­tempt, I shall exer­cise against you my right of select­ing the cop­per.

It’s kind of com­fort­ing in its own weird way, know­ing that find­ing a good busi­ness you can trust has been an eter­nal quest, whether you’re try­ing to get a refund from eBay or look­ing at some low qual­i­ty ingots and deal­ing with a very annoyed ser­vant.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty Pro­fes­sor Cooks 4000-Year-Old Recipes from Ancient Mesopotamia, and Lets You See How They Turned Out

Hear The Epic of Gil­gamesh Read in the Orig­i­nal Akka­di­an and Enjoy the Sounds of Mesopotamia

Dic­tio­nary of the Old­est Writ­ten Language–It Took 90 Years to Com­plete, and It’s Now Free Online

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the Notes from the Shed pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

Bass Sounds: One Song Highlights the Many Different Sounds Made by Different Bass Guitars

If you’re a sea­soned bass play­er, the diver­si­ty of bass sounds in the “Bass Sounds” videos here will hard­ly sur­prise you. Most oth­er peo­ple — includ­ing many musi­cians — have lit­tle under­stand­ing of the range of the bass, an instru­ment thought to just hold down the low end. Yes, it does do that, but it doesn’t always do it with bass fre­quen­cies. Bass tones and over­tones fall any­where in the range of 40hz — a low rum­ble more felt than heard — to a snap­py 4000hz, the high-midrange fre­quen­cy of snare drums and gui­tars.

That’s a lot of son­ic ter­ri­to­ry for an instru­ment to explore. It includes the sound of Paul McCartney’s Hofn­er Vio­lin Bass on “Pen­ny Lane,” a “bass-heavy tone with almost no mids or tre­ble,” Joel McIv­er writes at Mus­i­cRad­er; the smooth top end of Jaco Pas­to­ri­ous’ home­made fret­less Fend­er Jazz bass; and the buz­z­saw pow­er chords of Lem­my Kilmister’s Rick­en­backer 4001, which he played with midrange turned to 11 and bass con­trols com­plete­ly off.

Of course, ampli­fiers and effects make all the dif­fer­ence in famous bassists’ tones, but it starts at the fin­gers, the body, the pick­ups, and the frets, as bass play­er Bart Soeters demon­strates with a series of clas­sic, mod­ern, and obscure bass gui­tars, accom­pa­nied by the music of Joris Holtack­ers. Bass­es here include such rec­og­niz­able shapes as the Hofn­er, with its cham­bered body and f‑holes, the Fend­er Jazz and Pre­ci­sion bass­es, and the Gib­son SG. They also include unusu­al or unique instru­ments like the NS Design Bass­cel­lo and Soeters’ own Adamovic FBC sig­na­ture bass.

Boomy, woody, even reedy — bass gui­tars can rum­ble and they can croon. They can be imi­tat­ed by an elec­tric cel­lo — as Soeters demon­strates in the fol­low-up Bass Sounds II video at the top — make love­ly acoustic thumps, and gen­er­al­ly sound as per­cus­sive or melod­ic as you like. Will edu­cat­ing oth­ers about the range of bass gui­tar tones change unfor­tu­nate stereo­types about bass play­ers (demon­strat­ed below via inter­pre­tive dance and spo­ken word by The Kids in the Hall’s Kevin McDon­ald and Bruce McCul­loch)? Only time will tell. But it can cer­tain­ly  sharp­en the music appre­ci­a­tion skills of musi­cians and non-musi­cians alike. See all the dif­fer­ent bass­es list­ed on the Bass Sounds YouTube pages here and here.

via Laugh­ing Squid

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Watch Some of the Most Pow­er­ful Bass Gui­tar Solos Ever: Ged­dy Lee, Flea, Boot­sy Collins, John Dea­con & More

The Neu­ro­science of Bass: New Study Explains Why Bass Instru­ments Are Fun­da­men­tal to Music

The Sto­ry Behind the Icon­ic Bass-Smash­ing Pho­to on the Clash’s Lon­don Call­ing

Paul McCart­ney Offers a Short Tuto­r­i­al on How to Play the Bass Gui­tar

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.