Free Bass Transcriptions

Free Bass Transcriptions

Here come the dots

Author: Tom Kenrick

A Tribute to Dave Brubeck (and a rant about Marcus Miller)

As a little tribute to the late Dave Brubeck here’s a transcription of Paul Desmond’s sax solo on ‘Take Five’. Transcription here: Take Five solo (concert) This was actually my…

As a little tribute to the late Dave Brubeck here’s a transcription of Paul Desmond’s sax solo on ‘Take Five’.

Transcription here: Take Five solo (concert)

This was actually my first proper non-bass transcription, given to me as an assignment during a lesson with the great arranger/producer/guitarist/educator Richard Niles. If you haven’t heard of Richard then seek out his work – he not only possesses a terrifying amount of musical knowledge but also has a wonderful sense of humour.

Transcribing material that wasn’t originally played on your own instrument is a great way of expanding your musical horizons and often helps to generate fresh ideas for improvisation. When playing through this transcription, you might find that certain notes are outside of the range of your instrument and therefore certain phrases need to be octave transposed.

This process of arranging music played by non-bass instruments on a bass is valuable in a number of ways:

  • Phrases that are easily played on a saxophone (or piano/trumpet/guitar etc.) might not fit comfortably under your fingers on the bass. This helps to not only develop your technique but helps you stop reverting back to the same old licks when the time comes for you to solo.
  • While dissecting the solo, certain phrases might jump out at you. Use these to build new vocabulary for the bass. Work out a few different fingerings for the phrase and play it through all keys (you may want to alter the rhythmic content and retain the melody, or vice versa).
  • Examining improvisations from other instruments gives a unique insight into how different players approach improvising over chord changes. Using material that comes from a ‘non-bass’ perspective is hugely beneficial in developing your own personal voice on your instrument (a horribly clichéd phrase, but true nonetheless).

Why bother transcribing other instruments?

So, why not just focus on bass? I spent a lot of time during my teens learning licks and solos from Marcus Miller – I remember hearing listening to his M2 album and instantly being drawn towards his tone and phrasing. I wanted to sound exactly like him. During my first year at music college I got hold of a transcription of Marcus’ intro solo and slap line on David Sanborn’s ‘Run For Cover’:

I proceeded to spend my Christmas holiday that year shedding it like crazy. I loved playing it. Soon enough everything I played was beginning to sound like a budget version of Marcus. Classmates started to nickname me ‘mini-Marcus’. I’d listen back to recordings from gigs and cringe at what I’d played (important note: this never stops…). Having spent so long trying to get his ideas into my playing I’d lost sight of working on what I sounded like.

So I entered slap-bass rehab: I banned myself from listening to Marcus for a few years and tried to eliminate all traces of him from my playing. I went on a crusade to transcribe as many solos as I could with only one rule in mind: I couldn’t transcribe bass solos. Transcribing solos from other instruments helped to open my ears to all sorts of things I’d never thought of playing on a bass before, all of which suddenly seemed more interesting than chasing after another bassist’s sound.

This post is not meant as a slight towards Marcus Miller or anyone that wants to emulate any part of his playing (or that of any other bassist). For me the act of focusing all of my attention on one particular bassist had a detrimental effect on my musical development.

(Confession time: I listened to Marcus for the first time in years while writing this post and I loved it. He’s a monster. Still won’t be getting my thumb out on any gigs in the near future though…)

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Jamie Abbott Summer Tour

I’m pleased to announce that I’m spending July on the road playing double bass with Jamie Abbott in support of his new ‘Light Love’ E.P. which is out now on…

I’m pleased to announce that I’m spending July on the road playing double bass with Jamie Abbott in support of his new ‘Light Love’ E.P. which is out now on Extenso Music.

The tour is running in conjunction with both Caffe Nero and Yamaha Music Schools and somehow we’re cramming in 30+ shows over the next four weeks!

A full list of gig dates can be found here

Normal blogging/transcription services will be resumed in August. I’m working on some bits of video including a rundown of my pedalboard setup which I’ll post asap.

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Product Demo: Knowledge Rocks MyBeat Metronome

Here’s a short clip showing a nice little metronome app by Knowledge Rocks, the MyBeat Metronome. I’ve used a few different metronome apps on my iPhone over the last few…

Here’s a short clip showing a nice little metronome app by Knowledge Rocks, the MyBeat Metronome. I’ve used a few different metronome apps on my iPhone over the last few years and this is one of the most straightforward to operate.

The best thing about this for me is the ability to ‘shake in’ tempos – I’d always used tap tempo as a means of getting an accurate bpm for transcriptions or when working out tempos during rehearsals but this allows me to physically ‘get in’ to a tempo and feels a lot more natural than repeatedly tapping a screen.

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Rhythmic Displacement: Meshuggah’s ‘Do Not Look Down’

I have a confession to make: Although I have a deep appreciation of all things musical there’s one genre that I always come back to… metal. Proper metal. Played by…

I have a confession to make: Although I have a deep appreciation of all things musical there’s one genre that I always come back to… metal. Proper metal. Played by angry men with pointy guitars and beards; I was raised on classic rock (Led Zep, Sabbath, Deep Purple etc) and from there I spent my teens exploring the heavier end of the musical spectrum – I went through thrash metal (early Metallica/Megadeth), briefly delved into death metal (Carcass, Opeth, Children of Bodom) and even a had dubious metalcore phase before finding a handful of bands that made the sort of noise that really appealed to me…

One of those bands is Meshuggah.

This track caught my attention because it clearly highlights one of the band’s trademark writing techniques; the interwebs are littered with people asking ‘What time signature is this Meshuggah tune in?’. Whilst the majority of Meshuggah’s compositions sound as if they’re in odd time signatures the vast majority are in 4/4 – it just seems that the guitars have a healthy disregard for bar lines…

 

Djently Does It

The intro of ‘Do Not Look Down’ comprises of a unison guitar/bass figure that lasts for 17 quavers (or their equivalent) before repeating. When played over a drum part that in 4/4 this creates a shifting rhythmic effect where the accent at the start of the figure emphasises a different point in the bar each time it repeats.

The accent first falls on beat 1, then the ‘and’ of 1, then beat 2 etc. After 7 cycles we’re back to starting on beat 1 again. This could also be written as alternating bars of 4/4 and 9/8, or in the horrendous meter of 17/8, but what we’re really hearing is the effect of two different time signatures being played at the same time (i.e. polymetric playing)

The main purpose of this post is to highlight the concept of using polymetric devices to add a new dimension to compositions. This idea could easily be adapted to create basslines that use odd groupings of quavers (e.g. 5, 7 or 9) to create rhythmic tension when played over a drum part in 4/4.

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The Four Hour Bassist: Health & Wellbeing For The Working Musician

This post is concerned with an aspect of being a musician that is often neglected – health. Before I get started let’s get the common sense health & safety stuff…

This post is concerned with an aspect of being a musician that is often neglected – health.

Before I get started let’s get the common sense health & safety stuff out of the way:

Disclaimer #1: The opinions expressed in this post are a result of personal experience and are simply an account of a particular diet/exercise/practice regime that works for me. This may not apply to all readers of this post.

Disclaimer #2: I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. Always consult an appropriately qualified health practitioner before making any significant lifestyle changes.

I spent a lot of time this week thinking about my own health & wellbeing. I began to feel unwell after a gig and then spent the following 3 days in bed with some sort of miscellaneous food poisoning/manflu affliction. Then this morning I read this excellent post on NoTreble which serves as a good primer on nutrition for the gigging bassist (it is, of course, more relevant to US readers – I’m yet to find a service station on the M1 that offers a turkey hoagie or a Philly cheese steak…).

Here’s the thing: working as a musician often involves being active for long periods of time, often at extremely antisocial hours and in locations where it’s difficult (if not impossible) to get hold of anything apart from junk food. In order to sustain energy levels, it’s vital that we give our bodies the correct fuel to run on. Otherwise, we run the risk of losing concentration on the gig, dropping a few notes, forgetting the form, botching an arranged ending to a tune, getting cranky with bandmates during load-out and nearly falling asleep at the wheel on the drive home… Sound familiar?

About a year ago I was introduced to Tim Ferriss’ book ‘The 4-Hour Body’ by a friend who said he thought it would be “my sort of thing…”. Turns out he was right. Here’s the tome in question:

Firstly, I’m aware that this is a very silly book. Much of the content is aimed squarely at the testosterone-driven teenage boy that lurks within every grown man. However, if you skip past the sensationalist marketing tripe and pick out the advice that can realistically be adopted by most ‘regular’ folk then there’s actually some incredible, life-altering stuff in there.

The main thing I got from ‘The 4-Hour Body’ is my current diet, which gives me everything I need to cope with the often hectic and unpredictable lifestyle that I lead. Food, along with music, is one of my chief obsessions, and taking on Ferriss’ nutritional advice has helped me to get a much better insight into how what I put into my body affects me.

So, what do I eat? It’s actually more constructive to list the foods that I DON’T eat:

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes (no crisps, no chips!)
  • Cereals
  • Rice
  • Tortillas/wraps
  • Fruit/fruit juice (except tomatoes and avocados)
  • Soft drinks
  • Beer

For a more detailed overview and explanation of the so-called ‘Slow-Carb Diet’ (as well as the infamous ‘cheat day’) there’s a book extract here

“But what does all this have to do with music?!” Good question.

I found that once I’d given up ‘white’ carbs (particularly anything bread-related) that my energy levels become much more consistent throughout the day – I stopped getting post-meal energy slumps and my blood sugar levels became far more consistent. This means that I can get through long days that involve practice, rehearsals, traveling to/from gigs, lugging gear around and writing voluminous blog posts much better than before.

I’m not suggesting that you all should rush out and buy a copy of the 4-Hour Body, renounce bread and embrace lentils. What I’m advocating is taking the time to reflect on what you’re putting into your body and how that might be affecting your energy levels (not to mention your concentration, productivity, relationships, sleep and physical appearance…). A lot of guys (and girls) that I regularly work with don’t seem to give any thought to nutrition and consequently often wonder why they don’t feel great when all they’ve consumed is a packet of crisps and a can of red bull…

On a practical level this means avoiding stuff like this when you’ve pulled into a service station at 1am on the way back from a gig:

I’d rather spend an eternity listening to Kenny G than ingest this. No, really.

Queries/comments/suggestions are encouraged – doubt and scepticism are healthy.

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Spine O' The Times

It’s been shamefully long since I posted anything on here or added any new transcriptions to the archive, so apologies to those of you who have worked through the charts…

It’s been shamefully long since I posted anything on here or added any new transcriptions to the archive, so apologies to those of you who have worked through the charts I’ve already posted and are itching for something new. More transcriptions will be uploaded soon, I PROMISE!

Part of the reason that I’ve been slack on the blog front is that I’ve spent the last 4 months having curvature added to my spine through traction in order to avoid needing some fairly serious surgery in the next decade (and yes, having your spine reshaped is about as much fun as it sounds…).

For those that are curious, here’s how things look now:

See that? 43 degrees of lumbar curvature. Beautiful.

I’ll try and get a new transcription up by next week, but in the meantime here’s some footage of a recent gig that was shot in St.Pancras International station. I was helping out good friends Felix Fables while their regular bassist was otherwise indisposed. The bass of choice for this was my trusty ’80s P bass (which was the star of this earlier post) strung with D’Addario nylon tapewounds.

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