Free Bass Transcriptions

Free Bass Transcriptions

Here come the dots

Tag: groove

Bro, Do You Even Syncopate?

Get out more, get more out of it Confessions of a working bassist #37: I’m terrible at getting out to hear gigs. Maybe 3 times a year I’ll get my…

Get out more, get more out of it

Confessions of a working bassist #37: I’m terrible at getting out to hear gigs. Maybe 3 times a year I’ll get my act together, check listings, book tickets and go and enjoy being in the audience rather than on the stage.

This post comes from one such occasion this time last year, when I saw that Mark Giuliana was coming to town – I’d heard lots of buzz about him from other musicians and was vaguely aware of his Beat Music project (featuring bass hero Tim LeFebvre) but had never actually bothered to listen to much of his output.

One of the most memorable moments of the gig involved a tune with a lengthy bass and drum intro that consisted of nothing but horribly syncopated unison stabs and didn’t appear to feature any repeating figures. After some Spotify surfing the following morning, it turned out that the song in question was ‘One Month’ from 2015’s Family First album – I realised yesterday that it had been on my transcription ‘to-do’ list for almost an entire year, and my brain was repeatedly nagging me to sit down and decipher what was going on:

It’s 2 notes in 4/4 time – how hard could it be?! Try sight reading this at 130bpm:

It’s a roast-up, right? Now, if you want a real challenge, attempt to memorise it.

Dealing with flyshit

 

I still vividly remember my first lecture at music college – I was 19 years old and had come from a small town with very little in the way of a music scene, so I thought I was pretty good. As soon as this was put in front of me I quickly realised that I knew nothing:

Having grown up on a solid diet of internet TABs and Hot Licks videos, my reading ability was somewhat lacking. I was determined not to be beaten by the little black dots, and by the end of the year I was one of the best readers in the class. How did I do it?

From zero to (reading) hero

 

My lectures didn’t start until 11am, so I resolved to get up at 7.30 every day and do a couple of hour’s work on my weaknesses – there were (and still are) many – with a particular focus on reading. I worked on rhythm separately from pitch and slogged my way through this riveting tome:

 

If you can read this book, you can read (almost) anything. And, if you can read it then you can also hear rhythmic figures elsewhere and write them down quickly There’s an entire blog post on it here.

 

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Groove Of The Week #41: Maxwell – ‘Welcome’

One of my initial goals in undertaking the Groove Of The Week was to strike a balance between well-known ‘classic’ bass lines and lesser-known songs that have been particularly important…

One of my initial goals in undertaking the Groove Of The Week was to strike a balance between well-known ‘classic’ bass lines and lesser-known songs that have been particularly important in my bass education and that I feel deserve a wider audience.

This is the second Maxwell song to feature in this series (Jonathan Maron’s bass part from ‘Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)’ was the star of Groove Of The Week #21). I discovered Maxwell’s Now and Urban Hang Suite when I was 18, and both albums marked a pivotal point in my progression as a musician – although I’d been playing bass for 4 years and decided that I wanted to study music at university, I had no real concept of groove.

Wait, what?

Embarrassing as it is to admit, my early musical upbringing consisted distinctly groove-free music; Bach, The Eagles, Dire Straits and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. I developed an instinctive understanding of a broad range of white, guitar-led rock and metal music but had very little exposure to anything else. Bass-wise, I was heavily into Dream Theater, Pantera, Primus, Sikth and various dubious, slap-happy, Hot Licks videos; my framework of what it meant to be a ‘pro’ bassist was entirely based on technique, not groove.

The music on Maxwell’s first two albums totally floored me – here were groove-driven songs that often had prominent bass parts. Songs like ‘Temporary Nite‘ and ‘Sumthin’ Sumthin’‘ were the first occasions that I’d heard slap used in a non-pyrotechnic capacity, and the unwavering groove on ‘Welcome’ proved to be almost hypnotic:

 

It turned out that the lines that had knocked me out hadn’t sprung forth from the fingers of Stu Hamm, Victor Wooten or any of my other Hot Licks Heroes; in fact, they hadn’t even been dreamt up by ‘big name’ session guns like Will Lee, Marcus Miller or ‘Ready’ Freddie Washington – they were played by relatively obscure musicians, some of whom weren’t ‘career’ bassists. The groove on ‘Welcome’ comes courtesy of Stewart Matthewman, a British-born musician who originally played guitar in Sade’s band. Matthewman played on and produced many of the tracks on Urban Hang Suite and Now, contributing bass to several tracks (the rest of the bass playing was split between Jonathan Maron, Michael ‘Funky Ned’ Neal and Gary Foote).

Here are the dots:

No double-thumbing, no tapping, no sliding harmonics. Just groove.

From that point onwards, I was set on a different, more groove-orientated path; the same friend that introduced me to Maxwell pointed me in the direction of Stevie Wonder tunes that weren’t ‘Superstition’, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye. I remain a huge fan of metal, although Meshuggah and Lamb of God are now reserved for gym time rather than all of the time.

 

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Groove Of The Week #16: Michael McDonald – ‘I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)’

Louis Johnson’s stellar bass work as part of The Brothers Johnson and also as a sideman (his numerous credits include Michael Jackson, George Benson, Grover Washington Jr and George Benson)…

Louis Johnson’s stellar bass work as part of The Brothers Johnson and also as a sideman (his numerous credits include Michael Jackson, George Benson, Grover Washington Jr and George Benson) has cemented his position as one of the most celebrated funk bassists of the 70s and 80s.

Although many of his most famous lines involve hefty doses of slap bass, earning him the nickname ‘Thunder-Thumbs’, Louis’ line on Michael McDonald’s hit ‘I Keep Forgettin’ sees him staying safely in fingerstyle territory. The main groove, which was famously sampled on Warren G’s classic ‘Regulate’, features heavy semiquaver syncopation and requires real attention to detail when it comes to achieving the correct note lengths:

There’s a full note-for-note transcription of the entire tune right here for your grooving pleasure:
I Keep Forgettin’ Full Bass Transcription

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Groove Of The Week #15: Led Zeppelin – ‘Ramble On’

This week’s groove comes courtesy of the great British bassist John Paul Jones, whose part on Led Zeppelin’s ‘Ramble On’ provides a masterclass in writing a part that manages to…

This week’s groove comes courtesy of the great British bassist John Paul Jones, whose part on Led Zeppelin’s ‘Ramble On’ provides a masterclass in writing a part that manages to be melodic without diverting attention away from the rest of the band:

JPJ’s high register line sits firmly in the key of E major, using slides and ghost notes to embellish his part. He varies the part slightly on each repetition, but the basic groove is shown here:

Led Zep - Ramble On

You can check out the original isolated bass part of ‘Ramble On’ below – hearing JPJ’s playing in isolation really demonstrates the huge influence of Motown and Stax recordings:

His tone is very Jamerson-esque, and the verse groove to ‘Ramble On’ reminds me of pioneering soul bassist Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn’s part on Eddie Floyd’s ‘Knock On Wood’, which was recorded 3 years before ‘Ramble On’:

Wherever JPJ got the inspiration, his bass work on ‘Ramble On’ (and many other Led Zep songs) gives us a wealth of material for study when it comes to supportive yet melodic bass playing.

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