Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Studio Music and Jazz (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Don Coffman

Second Committee Member

Gary Lindsay

Third Committee Member

John Olah

Fourth Committee Member

Charles Bergeron


The advent and development of the electric bass as an instrument was examined in relation to its application to the genre of jazz and related styles. The evolving role of the bass in the early stages of the development of the jazz genre was considered. The work of pioneering acoustic bassists such as Jimmy Blanton emancipated the bass from its traditional, subordinate and supportive function. Bassists began to explore harmonically elaborate solos in a similar fashion to horn players. Electric bassists are able to expand on the harmonic aspects of the instrument partly due to the playability afforded by the electric bass as opposed to the acoustic bass. Leo Fender’s 1951 Precision bass was a significant development, though it was preceded by earlier attempts to create various electric amplified basses. Jaco Pastorius and Stanley Clarke were key figures in the history of the electric bass, and were influenced by traditional jazz music. In turn, they influenced the development of jazz and related styles such as fusion. Modern electric bass virtuosos such as Steve Bailey and Victor Wooten have effectively incorporated traditional jazz influences into their compositions and performances. Jazz and related styles of music continue to evolve, influenced by pedagogical practices and electric bass instruction in academic settings.


Bass; jazz; music; electric; fusion; Pastorius; Clarke