synth used in BILLIE JEAN for bassline.

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redchapterjubilee
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Post by redchapterjubilee » Mon Dec 10, 2007 3:47 pm

This is why this forum is so awesome. Hearing the stories straight from the horses' mouth.
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Post by multipackvitamin » Mon Dec 10, 2007 5:35 pm

:):)
Last edited by multipackvitamin on Mon Jan 13, 2014 11:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Micke » Mon Dec 10, 2007 5:59 pm

The Gong-like intro to Beat It was done on a Synclavier II. No Fairlight was used in the making of "Thriller".

The bass line is a combination of an electric bass and Synergy.
"The (Yamaha) CS-80 is a step ahead in keyboard control, and a generation behind in digital control" -- Dan Wyman, Jan 1979

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Post by Bill Wolfer » Mon Dec 10, 2007 8:34 pm

multipackvitamin wrote:
Ps, on the subject of this album,

Was the Beat It intro a preset of the Fairlight or Synclavier? Reason i ask is that I found the exact sound in the Cult Sampler vst, there is a patch called "Synclavier" which is the exact same sound as the Beat It Intro!

"Cult Sampler Beat It Intro Sound"

http://www.box.net/shared/h3brupxld4

What a legendary intro sound!
It was most definitely a Synclavier, and not only that, those exact notes with that sound were on the Synclavier demo record. I was a bit surprised that they knicked it for the intro.

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Post by SWAN » Mon Dec 10, 2007 8:37 pm

Bill Wolfer wrote:
SWAN wrote:I was wondering-how much artistic freedom did you get to contribute in sessions like these? Is it a case of Quincy/producer having a pretty good idea of what they want or did you get quite a lot of input?

Thanks in advance :)
In all of the sessions I did for Thriller, I was always impressed by how much Michael knew exactly what he wanted, from the first demo sessions at his home studio to the final work with Quincy at Westlake.

We started Billie Jean by Michael singing the top three notes of the opening chords, and we spent a long time trying to find the right harmony. As you know, there are a million ways you can harmonize three moving notes, and I tried about every one, but Michael had a clear sound in his head that he wanted, not only the harmony, but the synth sound itself. It was a patch he had heard me fooling around with when we were on the '81 tour, and recreating it wasn't easy either, because he could only try to describe it to me.

Michael was especially hands-on for all three of those songs (Bille Jean, Wanna be startin' somethin' and Beat it), because those were his compositions, he had done the 16 track demos in his house, and he had a clear solid vision of every little sound.

So, the artistic freedom in this case was always Michael's. We were just there to get the sound out of his head and onto tape. It wasn't easy for him, because he didn't play an instrument. He could just sing the parts, and try to describe the sound he wanted. But he was always patient, and we worked as though we had all the time in the world.

For me, it's easy to hear the difference between Michael's songs and Quincy's, and I could see that they were starting to move in different directions. For example, Michael told me that at first Quincy didn't like Beat it, and felt it was out of place on the record. Michael stuck to his guns, worked extra hard on the demo, and won his case, and Beat it went on to win record of the year.
I never realised old MJ was such a writer himself-good stuff!

Must be a great feeling to have contributed to such a piece of history.

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to bill.

Post by PaulRice » Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:55 pm

Hey Bill. Aside from playing on the actual recording, didnt you play the victory tour as well? If so, what synths did you use on the live gig?

here are differnt live performances of Billie Jean over the years. You can tell the sound has changed for the live shows over the years. I have a few questions regaurding them so please few free to watch a bit of them.

VICTORY TOUR (1984) Hey bill, if you played this live, You might see your self in the background.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=HAyaok0HjEM

BAD TOUR (1987)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=87reR83aiUc

Dangerous Tour (1992)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=8HiYDk1_WO0

Dangerous Tour Rehearsals
http://youtube.com/watch?v=VkuqVqIFebQ

HISTORY TOUR (1997)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=mi5YJA17CoY

Now my questions are.
During the dangerous tour and History tour, what synth or module was used for the main strings. To me, it sounds like a CHOIR OOH-sound patch.

My other question was, since michael lip sync billie jean for the history tour, what was used for the playback? was it an akai sampler? etc?

sorry for the huge questions but Im just curious a bit.

Your opinions and feedback are appreciated.
-Paul Rice

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Post by Bill Wolfer » Tue Dec 11, 2007 2:44 am

No, I played on the 81 tour, the "Triumph" tour. (Triumph, Victory, a bit of hubris, eh?) :lol:

On the 81 tour, I had a Yamaha CP70 Electric Grand with a Prophet 5 on top. To the left of that, I had my Rhodes Stage 73 with my Minimoog atop of it. To the right of the piano I had my CS80 which is what I used for all of the strings sounds, as well as the bass on Shake Your Body, and probably other things.

By the time the 84 tour came around, I was too busy in the studio to go.

There is a dreadful live CD of that tour. I don't have a copy, but I remember hating the vinyl version. Mix was awful, tempos way way too fast. Jackie Jackson used to count off the tunes, and he would set us off at bebop tempos sometimes. I tried to talk to him about it, but he felt that it was "more exciting" that way. Killed the groove is what it did, not to mention screwing up the horns and Tito. :roll:

But it was still a fun tour, glad I did it.

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Post by mavertron » Thu Dec 13, 2007 6:44 pm

yes thanks for info bill,if anyone has further interest in these recordings (who hasnt) bruce swedien did a Q & A over on gearslutz where he talks about these sessions, i think its here :

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/bruce-swedien/

he talks a lot about recording the jackson stuff, and working with quincy,
its more engineering based but there's loads of interesting stuff and he seems like a very funny and very nice guy...

m.
I shouldnt be here. I should be writing music.

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Post by iProg » Mon Apr 27, 2009 1:34 pm

Micke wrote:The Gong-like intro to Beat It was done on a Synclavier II. No Fairlight was used in the making of "Thriller".

The bass line is a combination of an electric bass and Synergy.
Isn't there a Fairlight vox sound in "P.Y.T"?

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Re: synth used in BILLIE JEAN for bassline.

Post by Micke » Mon Apr 27, 2009 2:20 pm

The "voicy" stuff on P.Y.T. was done with a Prophet 5 running through a Bode vocoder and doubled with VP-330.
"The (Yamaha) CS-80 is a step ahead in keyboard control, and a generation behind in digital control" -- Dan Wyman, Jan 1979

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Re: synth used in BILLIE JEAN for bassline.

Post by iProg » Mon Apr 27, 2009 2:39 pm

Micke wrote:The "voicy" stuff on P.Y.T. was done with a Prophet 5 running through a Bode vocoder and doubled with VP-330.
Haha, that's amazing!

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Re: synth used in BILLIE JEAN for bassline.

Post by Micke » Mon Apr 27, 2009 3:07 pm

Yeah, and there's also samples of Michael Jackson's voice played on an Emulator I.
Moreover, James Ingram played a (Yamaha) portasound in this song.
"The (Yamaha) CS-80 is a step ahead in keyboard control, and a generation behind in digital control" -- Dan Wyman, Jan 1979

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Re: synth used in BILLIE JEAN for bassline.

Post by Harlem Nights » Fri May 01, 2009 8:16 pm

Great thread

For those who'd like to check the backing of Billie Jean more in isolation, I uploaded this:
http://www.harlemnightsmusic.com/billiejean.mp3

To me it sounds like the CS80 on the R layered with MJ's choir on the L... The strings can be heard well too

(This mix is from the rear channels of the History DVD surround remix)

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Re: synth used in BILLIE JEAN for bassline.

Post by Sir Ruff » Fri May 01, 2009 8:31 pm

How appropriate for this to be bumped (after two years) on this very day... I was vibing to Thriller in its entirety this morning in the car (on tape natch).

The backing in that album blows me away everytime-QJ really knew how to fill in the gaps with little fills and riffs... and likewise with MJ and his voice-really managed to fill each song with so much nuance.
Do you even post on vse bro?

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Re: synth used in BILLIE JEAN for bassline.

Post by SamSamba » Sat May 02, 2009 9:54 am

Sir Ruff wrote:
The backing in that album blows me away everytime-QJ really knew how to fill in the gaps with little fills and riffs... and likewise with MJ and his voice-really managed to fill each song with so much nuance.
It's a timeless pop masterpiece, there's no doubt about it. It's unbelievable how a song like "Baby Me Mine" or "P.Y.T." still keeps on staying fresh, especially these days since everything from the 1980's is cool and back in fashion once again...

That said, I was always a bit bummed how the live performances left me a bit...disappointed. The tempos seemed too fast (seemed to kill a lot of the "good" songs' groove), the vigorous choreography really did seem to take a toll on Michael's voice (I don't think he was at his best singing live) etc

An amazing thread by the way, and a nice "bump", I would've missed it otherwise. :) I've always dreamed that there would exist a Thriller DVD / video like there is from the "We Are The World" sessions...it would (have) been amazing to see how they worked. Quincy's definitely a personal hero of mine...

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