Free Bass Transcriptions

Free Bass Transcriptions

Here come the dots

Reality Check: You Are Not Your Gig

Almost every week of the year I play function gigs; weddings, parties, corporate events, fundraisers, product launches – the occasions are varied but the music is largely the same. Regardless…

Almost every week of the year I play function gigs; weddings, parties, corporate events, fundraisers, product launches – the occasions are varied but the music is largely the same. Regardless of whether I’m working with bands that I play with regularly or depping (usually at short notice and always without rehearsal) in an unfamiliar band there are always tunes that crop up on every single gig.

Some of these songs are great, while others are thoroughly loathsome. The challenge is treating them all the same.

When I left music college some years ago, I was naive and principled in thinking that I’d be able to forge a career as a musician through only playing music that I liked, and I even had a list of gigs that I’d never ever do.

Seven years later and I’ve done almost all of them.

So what changed? Firstly, it’s easy to be idealistic about what you deem to be musically credible until your rent is due.

Reality Check: Realising That Your Job is Not Your Career

Attempting to make a living through music in London (or anywhere else, for that matter) is a tall order, and if it’s a choice between doing a musically dubious gig or having to take a non-musical ‘day job’ to make ends meet then the former will always trump the latter.

The second change was that I grew up (well, a little…) and accepted that part of being a professional involves treating all music equally regardless of personal tastes. The audience members at every gig deserve your respect, the other musicians deserve your respect and, crucially, the music deserves your respect.

One of the items on my list of gigs that I’d never do was anything related to tribute acts – then about 5 years ago I accepted a corporate gig where one of the sets was entirely of ABBA tunes. Whilst I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to dress up for the gig, I wasn’t exactly overjoyed at the prospect of learning 20 songs by a band that I wasn’t remotely keen on.

The process of transcribing a number of ABBA songs forced me to reconsider my viewpoint of music that I’d previously deemed to be cheesy, lightweight pop nonsense – the bass playing (courtesy of the late Rutger Gunnarsson) is creative and melodic whilst always serving the songs, with many of his lines bearing the influence of Paul McCartney and James Jamerson.

The charts that I made for that gig have been tidied up and are now available for download from the transcriptions page.

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Groove Of The Week #28: The Weeknd – 'Can't Feel My Face'

Following a request to include something more contemporary in the series, I scoured mainstream radio for something bass-heavy to transcribe: Had requests for a more recent groove so here it…

Following a request to include something more contemporary in the series, I scoured mainstream radio for something bass-heavy to transcribe:

Here are the dots:

GOTW Can t Feel My Face

In order to emulate the original sound from the recording I used one of my favourite pedals, the Boss OC-2. Although my gear hoard includes a bass synth (an original Novation BassStation for the gear nerds), I rarely take it out on gigs as it’s a hassle to pack the extra gear for one or two songs in a set.

I find that an octave pedal, such as the OC-2, provides a decent approximation of many bass synth sounds found on recordings*. If there’s song that originally had a bass part played on a synth then I’ll tend to use an octave pedal with the dry signal turned down and the effected octave-below sound close to 100%. This results in a tone which makes the attack and envelope of each note closer to that of a keyboard and less like a bass guitar.

It’s not just a case of using the pedal to reach notes that are below the range of a 4-string bass – I’ll often use an octave pedal on gigs rather than use a 5-string because of the tone that it provides.

*for the curious, other function tunes that I give the octave pedal treatment include ‘Superstition’, Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody’, Michael Jackson’s ‘Shake Your Body’, Florence + The Machine’s ‘You’ve Got The Love’ and Maroon 5’s ‘Moves Like Jagger’.

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GOTW #27: Keeping Up With Jaco

27 posts into Groove Of The Week and we haven’t yet heard from Jaco Pastorius – let’s change that. There are plenty of Jaco lines to choose from, and while…

27 posts into Groove Of The Week and we haven’t yet heard from Jaco Pastorius – let’s change that.

There are plenty of Jaco lines to choose from, and while he’s often remembered for his pyrotechnics his sense of groove was unparalleled. Part of the reason that he was able to get away with being such a busy player is that his touch and time on the instrument was always faultless.

Pastorius staples such as ‘The Chicken’ and ‘Teen Town’ get plenty of exposure, but ‘River People’ (from Weather Report’s Mr.Gone) seems to be less well known among bassists.

While it doesn’t sound as tough as other Jaco workouts like ‘Havona’ or ‘Donna Lee’, the challenge here is one of stamina. Executing (and maintaining) the line at tempo requires plenty of stamina and provides a great workout for those of us who feel that our 16th-note octaves need some refinement:

 

GOTW - River People

Last month I attended the UK premiere of Robert Trujilo’s ‘Jaco’ documentary, which I highly recommend even if you have only a passing interest in the man and his music. Even if you’re not a fan of his recorded output there is no debate that he completely altered the destiny of the electric bass and influenced everyone else who came after him, whether they acknowledge it or not.

Jaco was our Hendrix, and should be revered as such. Often imitated, but seldom bettered.

He could also play the hell out of the piano:

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GOTW #26: Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

This installment of Groove Of The Week features possibly the shortest, most repetitive and least varied to date – it’s also one of the most important. One bar. Over and…

This installment of Groove Of The Week features possibly the shortest, most repetitive and least varied to date – it’s also one of the most important.

One bar. Over and over. Minimal variations. No fills. No frills.

Boring, right?

Wrong.

Consistency is the number one trait that will get you hired time and time again (punctuality and above-average personal hygiene should also be high up in your ‘skill set’). What do I mean by consistency?

Playing a line in time at the same volume and with the same articulation for 4-5 minutes without ceasing (extend this to 25 minutes if you’re playing ‘Chameleon’ at a jam night).

Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to do well. Put down your slap licks and your string crossing exercises and challenge yourself to play James Jamerson’s sublime D major groove without deviating in any way whatsoever from the original line.

 

 

Ok, there’s ONE variation in the video. Sue me.

 

Here are the dots. The sharp-eyed (and keen-eared) among you will recognise this as THE staple ‘Motown/soul major chord’ 1-5-6 lick heard on just about every soul tune ever; ‘Keep On Running’, ‘Respect’,’Love Really Hurts Without You’, ‘Faith’, ‘What’s Going On’ (octave displacement), ‘I Want You Back’ and ‘Rescue Me’ are just a few off the top of my head.

 

GOTW Higher and Higher

 

 

This is one of Jamerson’s most famous lines that doesn’t feature any of his much lauded chromaticism. In fact, it sounds like he’s on his best behaviour. If you don’t already, rush out this instant and get a copy of the ‘Standing In The Shadows Of Motown’ book which features note-for-note transcriptions of lots of JJ’s parts and interviews with lots of amazing players on how his playing influenced them.

As a geeky aside, ‘Higher and Higher’ was recorded in Chicago by Jamerson and the other Funk Brothers while they were moonlighting from Motown – they would often drive over from Detroit and do ‘undercover’ sessions to augment their pay from Berry Gordy’s label. Not bad for something knocked up on your day off. 

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