THE SYNTHESIZER BASS
With pioneers like Stevie Wonder, the synthesizer bass developed from an alternative to the electric bass to an independent sound in many styles and genres (Stevie Wonder Boogie On Reggae Woman (1974); Chaka Khan We Can Work It Out (1981)).
Wonder and many synth players after found their own style of playing, mostly based on the Minimoog Model D (1970). Therefore, the sound is closely linked to a specific style of play, often characterized by the extensive use of the pitch bend wheel and monophonic glide effects.
In pop and rock music, there were occasional formations such as The Doors which used an organ bass or synthesizer bass instead of the electric bass. Often used organ bass pedals were the Jen P-700, produced in Italy in the mid-1970s, the Eko K1 (1979) and the popular programmable and storable Moog Taurus (1975-1981). The later featured filter-and-envelope editing capabilities.
The Taurus 2 (1981-1983) detached the control unit from the pedal unit, enabling more comfortable and direct editing. In the Phil Collins video I Do Not Care Anymore (1983), bassist Mo Foster plays a Moog Taurus organ bass pedal unconventionally with his hands. Ray Manzarek of the band The Doors used a Fender Rhodes Piano Bass (1960) with 2.5 octaves as a bass replacement.
On his early albums Music Of My Mind (1972), Talking Book (1972), Innervisions (1973) and Fulfillingness' First Finale (1974), Stevie Wonder almost invariably uses the Moog Modular synthesizer as bass, establishing the bass synthesizer as full-fledged alternative or extension of the electric bass. From there, the bass synthesizer began to spread as an antagonist of the electric bass. In the 1980s this led to some studio and band projects working without electric bass or using both instruments simultaneously in unison.
The bass synthesizer has gained more and more profile over the years, as evidenced today for example in the distinctive wobble basses of the dubstep genre (Skrillex Father Said (2010); Skream Scrooge's Revenge (2012)).
Like the electric piano, the bass synthesizer is a prototype of step-by-step electrification and virtualization. It serves as an example of the emancipation of an instrument, from the imitation of existing instruments and sounds to an independent sound and playing culture. With virtuoso players like Greg Phillinganes, Berny Worell or Mike Boddicker the bass synthesizer established itself as genuine pop sound during the 1980s, mostly in Funk and R&B-productions. Today, the bass synthesizer is receiving a lot of attention, especially in EDM and IDM dubstep area.
* (synth players in parantheses)
|1975||Bee Gees||Jive Talking|
|1975||Stevie Wonder||Boogie On Reggae Woman|
|1977||Donna Summer (Giorgio Moroder)||I Feel Love|
|1977||Parliament (Bernie Worell)||Flashlight|
|1980||Zapp (Roger Troutman)||More Bounce To The Ounce|
|1981||Chaka Khan (David Foster)||And The Melody Still Lingers On|
|1981||Chaka Khan (Greg Phillinganes)||We Can Work It Out|
|1981||Earth,Wind&Fire (Larry Dunn)||Let's Groove|
|1982||Dazz Band||Let It Whip|
|1982||Chaka Khan (Robbie Buchanan)||Best In The West|
|1982||Donna Summer (Greg Phillinganes)||(If It) Hurts Just A Little|
|1982||Michael Jackson (Greg Phillinganes)||Baby Be Mine|
|1982||Zapp (Roger Troutman)||Dance Floor|
|1982||One Way||Cuty Pie|
|1984||Al Jarreau||High Crime|
|1987||Whitney Houston (prob. Narada Michael Walden)||I Wanna Dance With Somebody|
|1988||Rick Astley||Never Gonna Give You Up|
|1989||Diana Ross||Going Through The Motions|
|1993||Snap!||Rhythm IS A Dancer|
|1997||Spice Girls (Joe Moskowitz)||Say You'll Be There|
|1998||Backstreet Boys||Everybody (Backstreet's Back)|
Bass Sounds in the Billboard Top 40 (1960 – 2014)
"I am a bass type"
"Bass sounds have to be elastic"
– Boris Blank
"Punch and Warmness"
– Marco Basci