Free Bass Transcriptions

Free Bass Transcriptions

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Tag: marcus miller

Janek Gwizdala Masterclass 2007 Part 3: Gear, Tradition and Finding Your Voice

Here’s the third and final instalment of Janek Gwizdala’s bass clinic at ACM Guildford in 2007. For those who missed the first two episodes, you can find them here: –…

Here’s the third and final instalment of Janek Gwizdala’s bass clinic at ACM Guildford in 2007. For those who missed the first two episodes, you can find them here:

Part 1 focuses on transcription, including things he stole from George Benson and Allan Holdsworth
Part 2 deals with Janek’s early days playing the bass and how he developed his prodigious technique

Part 3 covers a range of topics, including:

Janek’s philosophy on equipment

Regular viewers of his ‘coffee with Janek’ blog might find it interesting to hear how his views on being a gear head have shifted over the last decade – this masterclass happened before he started hanging out with Juan Alderete and stockpiling Meatboxes and OC-2 pedals.

The value of understanding tradition

While talking about his time playing with the late Hiram Bullock, Janek reveals that he didn’t begin his journey with jazz and started on a solid diet of pop music before moving on to the likes of Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock.

One of the most important points that Janek makes on this topic is that it’s essential to have a comprehensive knowledge of your chosen musical genre(s) before you can forge your own musical path – if you don’t know what has come before you, then how can know when you’re being original?

(and yes, I was that guy who knew everything about Anthony Jackson. I’m pretty handy at a pub quiz…)

finding your ‘voice’ on your instrument

Closely linked to the idea of understanding your ‘place’ in musical history is the importance of not simply regurgitating things that have happened before – but how do you work out which direction you should go in? Janek discusses some of his own ‘self talk’ that he uses in musical decision making.

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Groove Of The Week #32: Narada Michael Waldon – ‘I Shoulda Loved Ya’

One Man, Two Careers – Pick Technique – Play it Like You Hear it This one definitely gets filed under ‘guilty pleasures’. View this post on Instagram Groove Of The…

One Man, Two Careers – Pick Technique – Play it Like You Hear it

This one definitely gets filed under ‘guilty pleasures’.

I originally knew Narada Michael Walden for his work behind the kit rather than his vocal efforts (his credits as a drummer include Mahavishnu Orchestra, Allan Holdsworth and Jaco’s ‘Come On, Come Over’) but here he is having a crack at a solo career.

Other examples of prominent musicians that have had parallel careers on two different instruments include Dave Grohl, John Paul Jones, Phil Collins, Gary Husband and Marcus Miller.

What? You mean you don’t remember that time when Marcus Miller was a singer?

There’s a reason why this record is always in the bargain bins…

On the subject of singing drummers, have you heard Abe Laboriel Jr sing? Not too shabby.

Back to the point, if there ever was one. Learning a second (or third) instrument can seriously expand your musical horizons – get familiar with the piano is an excellent way to ‘see’ harmony laid out in front of you in a way that bass (and guitar) don’t provide.

The bass on ‘I Shoulda Loved Ya’ comes courtesy of T.M. Stevens wielding a pick to great effect:

GOTW I Shoulda Loved Ya

The key to this style of picking is to maintain a constant up and down motion with the picking hand to create the steady stream of semiquavers. Think of your picking hand like a pendulum, always swinging back and forth – once you get the hang of this ‘perpetual motion’ you can simply choose the subdivisions that you want to pick out.

Other masters of this style include Bobby Vega, Anthony Jackson and the late, great, Bernard Edwards; check out his part during the prechorus of Diana Ross’ ‘I’m Coming Out’, which features his signature ‘chucking’ technique (using fingernails to emulate the sound of a plectrum).

Fingers? Pick? Thumb? Tapping? Which Should I Work On?

Bassists have many options when it comes to striking the strings, which is something of a mixed blessing – how do you decide which one(s) to focus on?

Your decision is made by the answers to these questions:

  • How do I want to sound?
  • Do I like the sound of the technique?
  • How often am I realistically going to use this technique?
  • What techniques are musically appropriate to the repertoire that I perform?

Your musical output should always inform your input; you are what you practise. When I was a teenager and didn’t have any idea of the skill set needed to become an effective freelancer I spent (wasted) a lot of time in front of my Stu Hamm and Victor Wooten VHS tapes honing my slap and tap skills because that’s what I thought skilled bass playing sounded like.

How many times in the last decade have I used my flamenco slap licks or 8-finger tapping on a gig? I’ll let you make an educated guess.

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Groove Of The Week #24: Luther Vandross – ‘She’s a Super Lady’

You know that Luther Vandross song that has the great bassline by Marcus Miller on it? No, not that one. This one: ‘Never Too Much’ is one of the most…

You know that Luther Vandross song that has the great bassline by Marcus Miller on it?

No, not that one. This one:

‘Never Too Much’ is one of the most famous examples of bass deity Marcus Miller’s extensive session work, with heavily syncopated slap lines that jump out of the mix and demand our attention. But there’s another less famous Miller/Vandross collaboration that once again sees Marcus’ thumb in full flight, providing tight staccato slap grooves peppered with high register fills.

The verse groove of ‘She’s A Super Lady’ alternates between a sparse ascending figure (a contraction of the main chorus groove) and more active fills outlining E minor:

The flurry of notes half way through the verse is one of those fills that sounds harder than it actually is – pay close attention to the thumb/pop markings in the transcription and let your left hand do the bulk of the work. The real key to making fills like this work is having a strong thumb sound on the D string, which is a key component of Marcus’ sound and often overlooked.

A full transcription of ‘She’s A Super Lady’ can be downloaded HERE

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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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