Consider the bass guitar line of a song called "Schism":

and another bass guitar line of a song called "Pneuma".

When Pneuma was released, many people from various threads commented that the bass line in Pneuma is almost exactly the same with the bass line in Schism. Others are talking about chord progressions, time signatures, etc. (which I know nothing about). Some even went so far as to say the similarities prevent them from enjoying the song. I, however, find the bass lines to be different and distinguishable from each other. This might be because I have no advance music knowledge. To my ears, they don't sound similar at all. By feel perhaps, but the melodies and pitch are not.

Can anyone explain what my ears are missing? How and why are they really similar?

Note: I don't have any knowledge in music theory.

  • 2
    The “melody” notes of the bass in schism are F E F E G and that repeats a bunch. For Pneuma it’s A Bb A G A F G E and that repeats a bunch. The time signatures are different. Schism is single notes and Pneuma is chords. They both sound like Tool and both have a similar feel and there’s some overlap in the notes. They are definitely not identical. Oct 4, 2019 at 21:01
  • 2
    Be glad that both "Schism" and "Pneuma" are by the same band. It could have been worse.
    – Dekkadeci
    Oct 5, 2019 at 11:11

1 Answer 1


There are similarities but they are clearly different. Aside from the general Tool-ish vibe, I think the strongest similarity is rhythmic. They both use groups of 3 interspersed with the occasional group(s) of 2. Furthermore, in both cases the groups of 3 are further divided as 2+1. But how these groupings are organized differs. Schism is 3+3+3+3+3+3+3+2+2+2. Pneuma is 2+3+3+3+3+2+3+3+3+3+2+3 (the first 2 could be heard as a pickup so could be put at the end of the pattern). So, despite their being different, you could forgive people for hearing them as being "too similar".

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