Liner Notes XIII: Slappa da SNES bass

(Editor’s note: From Drakkhen to Paperboy, everyone’s got at least one videogame tune stuck in their heads. Enter Liner Notes: a Pixelitis feature in which our writers discuss their favorite videogame music.)

"Don’t worry. I haven’t gone off my rocker and decided to dedicate a feature to fishing game soundtracks. Rather, I’d like to delve into a phenomenon known as the SNES bass.

Much like how Konami’s sound team had its own signature “orchestral hit” in its early 90s videogame music, several composers utilized a slap bass sound that’s become synonymous with the sounds of early 90s SNES titles.

The slap bass sample in question is taken from a Korg M1, the same keyboard used for the theme to Seinfeld composed by Jonathan Wolff. Oftentimes, detractors (read: 90s Sega kids) will use these instances of bass guitar as a source of derision for the SNES’ sound chip. Indeed, the bass sample is an acquired taste. Some may dismiss it as laughably cheesy, and it very well may be in some cases, but that’s not to say that the sample can’t be found in some fantastic videogame tunes.

So bear with me. I’m going to make a case for the SNES bass."

- Patrick Kulikowski

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