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When did (pure) sub-bass start?

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  • When did (pure) sub-bass start?

    When, to the best of your knowledge and memory, did the addition of pure sub-bass frequencies emerge in popular music?

    I was listening to the dance hit "Dontcha" by the ******************** Cat Dolls today, and noticed that it repeatedly has some "sonic booms" added which are entirely sub-bass in frequency.

    In other words, these sounds are not mere downward extensions of the song's bassline. They are deep frequencies with an independence of their own.

    Furthermore, to my ear, they are neither kick drum sonorities nor bass guitar sonorities... They're literally bursts of sub-bass waves that punctuate the record.

    I remember the "Milk Shake" song of three years ago featured this prominently, too.

    These frequencies really can only express themselves nicely if the playback system has some serious sub-bass woofers goin' on. Otherwise, it's just a nasty cloud of distorted sound...

    Can you edumacate me on the history and technique of the sub-bass in pop music?

    Thanks, ras
    Every paint-stroke takes you farther and farther away from your initial concept. And you have to be thankful for that. Wayne Thiebaud


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  • #2
    I like your taste in music.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by rasputin1963
      When, to the best of your knowledge and memory, did the addition of pure sub-bass frequencies emerge in popular music?

      I was listening to the dance hit "Dontcha" by the ******************** Cat Dolls today, and noticed that it repeatedly has some "sonic booms" added which are entirely sub-bass in frequency.


      Sub-bass AFAIK evolved around the mid 1980s or so - starting with hip hop and electro/freestyle (Miami Bass, West Coast Latin dance music) which used a heavily compressed Roland TR-808 bass drum on slow decay. '80s Hip hop tunes like the Beastie Boys' "Brass Monkey" or anything from 2Live Crew were examples of that. Note current rap tunes esp those produced by Jermaine Dupri or Lil Jon bring back that 808 style.

      In the mid 1990s -
      drum n bass/jungle producers/artists incorporated that element into their music, of which the sub bass tone was heavily inspired from Jamaican dub music (although played in a more tonal manner). They would sample the 808 bass drum and play it like bass notes, and eventually that got exaggerated into a downward pitch drop.

      I know for sure producers like The Neptunes incorporated sub bass drops into their pop productions. The first one I can recall was Justin Timberlake's "Like I Love You" and later Britney Spears' "I'm A Slave 4 U,"

      Sub bass sounds easy but it's not. You don't want to have competing frequencies like in the bass drum, nor if you have a bassline do you want it to compete frequency-wise or note-wise. Ususally songs with sub-bass drops are pretty minimalist, sparese arrangements. The sub bass drop happens for a good duration of time and you want each drop to clear for a while before hearing another.
      Elson TrinidadSinger, Songwriter, Keyboardist, BassistElson and the Soul BarkadaWeb: www.elsongs.comMySpace: www.myspace.com/elsongsFacebook: Facebook PageTwitter: twitter.com/elsongs

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      • #4
        Wow, elsongs... I couldn't ask for a better, more useful reply. Thanks!
        Every paint-stroke takes you farther and farther away from your initial concept. And you have to be thankful for that. Wayne Thiebaud


        Friend me on FACEBOOK!

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        • #5
          Elson's reply seems accurate to my knowledge. Did you all know there's a genre known as "bass" that features sub-bass melody lines. Its mostly for teenagers with the big boomers in their cars. I suspect the bass boomer in cars is used to declare one's territtory and as a mating call. (as Sir Mixalot wrote: "The 808 kick drum makes the girlies want to get some.")

          This type of bass was made possible by discos with big bass speakers and cars with the big boomers. As one car stereo advert said "Why just disturb your family when you can disturb your entire neighborhood."
          "In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act."- George Orwell

          My music: http://www.oranjproductions.com

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          • #6
            I noticed the 808 stuff in the early hip-hop stuff but at that point I recall it being percussive and not really having a "line". The first place I heard moving/independent sub-bass lines was in jungle music. It's fun trying to find places for it in songs that are not strictly from the genres with which it's associated.
            Silk City Music Factory: A Connecticut Recording Studio

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            • #7
              Didn't Bose start the sub bass/ woofer trend??
              Recording Studio Design Forum
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              • #8
                Originally posted by John Sayers
                Didn't Bose start the sub bass/ woofer trend??


                Lor' love you, John, but your generation is showing....

                they mean a pure sine "subharmonic" tone that is used a lot in electronic music - usually layered under another bass sound or under a kick. Sometimes it pitches down over the note duration. Sounds generally quite cool.

                nat whilk ii

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                • #9
                  Recording Studio Design Forum
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                  • #10
                    remind me of a funny story where i took a younger friend of mine with me to Warner Bros. Hamburg and he played his CD, the warner guy was into listening loud in his office, after a few seconds the speakers just gave up the spirit, i was laughing, the warner boy was looking after his little malaysian stereo and my friend who made that all on some JBL 4430 was embarrassed

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                    • #11
                      I know. You did stipulate popular music Ras. But how about some serious sub bass in the classical world prior to that. Pipe organ! He he he. The end of the opening to Richard Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra" for instance. Major Bass, depending on the recording. I had a Berlin Philharmonic Deutsche Grammaphone recording of that. I wore it out! I think the cd extends lower, but it was there on the vinyl. Of course, bass and cellos are part of the band, and tuba, low winds etc. Lotsa room for everyone if you spread it out right. Sorry to OT. couldn't help it.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Hard Truth
                        Elson's reply seems accurate to my knowledge. Did you all know there's a genre known as "bass" that features sub-bass melody lines. Its mostly for teenagers with the big boomers in their cars. I suspect the bass boomer in cars is used to declare one's territtory and as a mating call. (as Sir Mixalot wrote: "The 808 kick drum makes the girlies want to get some.")


                        I've been droppin da bass since '98!
                        (Actually since '97 but "'98" sounds better)

                        Here's some electronica stuff I released a few years back that's got some sub-bass:

                        e:trinity - Various Shades of Blue

                        (Tracks 4, 6, 12, 13, 14 got sub-bass, plus the secret track at the end of the CD)

                        We like the cars -
                        The cars that go Boom!
                        We're Tigra, and Bunny
                        And we like the Boom!
                        Elson TrinidadSinger, Songwriter, Keyboardist, BassistElson and the Soul BarkadaWeb: www.elsongs.comMySpace: www.myspace.com/elsongsFacebook: Facebook PageTwitter: twitter.com/elsongs

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                        • #13
                          what sort of frequencies are we talking about when we say "sub-bass"? or is it less about the frequency as the usage? (if so, can you explain the usage more?)

                          i guess i'll have to try to find a copy of this ******************** cat dolls song you speak of . . . for research purposes, of course.
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by object.session
                            what sort of frequencies are we talking about when we say "sub-bass"?


                            20HZ to 30Hz, sometimes up to 40Hz, 50Hz in a sub-bass line.

                            The signals for subbasslines we use are custom created with a oscillator program for best booooom, non of them are pure sinus.

                            The "get down on your knee's and dance" sub-kick collection is labeled with the tuning to avoid getting in the way of the subbassline. The nick name we give them is censored.

                            Some of you may remember the tune "Ticking Time Bomb" '89 by TACK>>HEAD, or the Paul Hardcastle stuff. SOUL II SOUL, and recently Massive Attack, not all subcontrabass but nice booooom...

                            By the way, Bruce makes any non-subbass sound like one...

                            More Bass Please!!!!

                            .

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