The Chase: How Giorgio Moroder Created a Disco Synth Classic

Giorgio Moroder is a legendary Italian composer and producer who has influenced many genres of music, from disco to electronic to film soundtracks. He is best known for his collaborations with Donna Summer, such as the groundbreaking hit “I Feel Love”, and for his Academy Award-winning scores for films like Midnight Express, Flashdance, and Top Gun. One of his most iconic songs is “The Chase”, an instrumental track that was the theme for the 1978 film Midnight Express, a drama about an American student who escapes from a Turkish prison.

Moroder Goggles
Moroder Goggles

The Inspiration

Moroder was asked by the director of Midnight Express, Alan Parker, to create a song in the style of “I Feel Love”, which Moroder composed for Donna Summer in 1977. “I Feel Love” was a revolutionary disco song that used a Moog synthesizer to create a futuristic and hypnotic sound. Parker wanted to capture the same vibe for his film, which was set in the 1970s but had a modern and edgy tone.

Moroder accepted the challenge and started working on the song in his studio in Munich, Germany. He used a Roland SH-2000 synthesizer to play the main melody, which consisted of a simple but catchy sequence of notes that repeated over and over. He then added a bass line played on a Minimoog synthesizer, which gave the song a driving and pulsating rhythm. He also used other instruments, such as an ARP/Solina String Ensemble, Fender Rhodes, Hohner Clavinet, and piano, to create layers of harmony and texture. He also applied a flanging effect using an MXR Flanger, which created a sweeping and swirling sound that added to the song’s intensity and drama.

Moroder arranged the song with the help of Harold Faltermeyer, who later became famous for composing the theme for Beverly Hills Cop. They recorded the song in several versions, ranging from 3 minutes to 13 minutes long. The longest version was released as a maxi single, while the shorter versions were used for the film soundtrack and the radio edit.

The Impact

“The Chase” was released as a single in 1978 and became a hit in several countries. It reached number 33 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US, number 48 on the UK Singles Chart, and number 18 on the Italian Singles Chart. It also won Moroder his first Academy Award for Best Original Score, making him the first person to win an Oscar for an electronic score.

The song also had a lasting influence on music history, as it was one of the first examples of hi-NRG, a genre of disco that had a faster tempo and more energetic sound than traditional disco. Hi-NRG became popular in the early 1980s and influenced artists such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, Pet Shop Boys, and Kylie Minogue. The song also inspired many other composers and producers who worked on film soundtracks, such as John Carpenter, Vangelis, Hans Zimmer, and Daft Punk.

“The Chase” is still considered one of Moroder’s best songs and one of the most iconic disco songs ever made. It has been sampled, remixed, covered, and parodied by many artists over the years. It has also been used in various media, such as video games, commercials, TV shows, and movies. It is a testament to Moroder’s genius and creativity that he was able to create such a timeless and memorable song with just a few synthesizers and a simple melody.

More Moroder

The man has written many songs for various artists and genres, ranging from disco to rock to electronic. Some of his most famous songs are:

  • I Feel Love” by Donna Summer, a pioneering disco song that used a Moog synthesizer to create a futuristic sound.
  • Flashdance… What a Feeling” by Irene Cara, the theme song for the 1983 film Flashdance, which won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song.
  • Take My Breath Away” by Berlin, the love theme for the 1986 film Top Gun, which also won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song.
  • Together in Electric Dreams” by Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder, a synth-pop song that was the title track for the 1984 film Electric Dreams.
  • The Chase” by Giorgio Moroder, an instrumental track that was the theme for the 1978 film Midnight Express, which earned Moroder his first Academy Award for Best Original Score.
  • The NeverEnding Story” by Limahl, the theme song for the 1984 fantasy film of the same name, which was a hit in several countries.

These are just a few of the many hits that Giorgio Moroder has written or co-written in his long and successful career. He’s widely regarded as one of the most influential and innovative producers and composers in music history.




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