The Quest for the Melodic Electric Bass: From Jamerson to Spenner, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Quest for the Melodic Electric Bass

From Jamerson to Spenner, 1st Edition

By Per Elias Drabløs


252 pages

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Hardback: 9781472434821
pub: 2016-03-18
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The double bass - the preferred bass instrument in popular music during the 1960s - was challenged and subsequently superseded by the advent of a new electric bass instrument. From the mid-1960s and throughout the 1970s, a melismatic and inconsistent approach towards the bass role ensued, which contributed to a major change in how the electric bass was used in performance and perceived in the sonic landscape of mainstream popular music. Investigating the performance practice of the new, melodic role of the electric bass as it appeared (and disappeared) in the 1960s and 1970s, the book turns to the number one songs of the American Billboard Hot 100 charts between 1951 and 1982 as a prime source. Through interviews with players from this era, numerous transcriptions - elaborations of twenty bass related features - are presented. These are juxtaposed with a critical study of four key players, who provide the case-studies for examining the performance practice of the melodic electric bass. This highly original book will be of interest not only to bass players, but also to popular musicologists looking for a way to instigate methodological and theoretical discussions on how to develop popular music analysis.


"The depth to which Drabløs had delved in order to track down details of recordings, the pleasing fluency of his writing, and the consistency and excellent of his transcriptions and their analysis will make the book worth returning to." - Allan F. Moore, The World of Music (New Series)

Table of Contents

Part 1 Setting the Pace: Getting to the base of things. On popular music. The work. Part 2 The Melodic Electric Bass: Establishing Style as Performance: The bass in popular music. Style and genre. Details, features, and idiosyncrasies. Part 3 Toward a Performance Aesthetic: Studio bass vs. band bass. Artists, performance style, and aesthetics. On the decline? Wrapping up.

About the Author

Per Elias Drablos is an Associate Professor at the University of Agder, Norway, teaching electric bass as a principal instrument. He is also a regular member of the music group Secret Garden, with 5 million CDs sold worldwide.

About the Series

Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series

Popular musicology embraces the field of musicological study that engages with popular forms of music, especially music associated with commerce, entertainment and leisure activities. The Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series aims to present the best research in this field. Authors are concerned with criticism and analysis of the music itself, as well as locating musical practices, values and meanings in cultural context. The focus of the series is on popular music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with a remit to encompass the entirety of the world’s popular music.

Critical and analytical tools employed in the study of popular music are being continually developed and refined in the twenty-first century. Perspectives on the transcultural and intercultural uses of popular music have enriched understanding of social context, reception and subject position. Popular genres as distinct as reggae, township, bhangra, and flamenco are features of a shrinking, transnational world. The series recognizes and addresses the emergence of mixed genres and new global fusions, and utilizes a wide range of theoretical models drawn from anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, media studies, semiotics, postcolonial studies, feminism, gender studies and queer studies.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General
MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Classical
MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Rock