Free Bass Transcriptions

Free Bass Transcriptions

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Unorthodox Instructionals, Part 3: Getting Even With Drummers

Louis Bellson’s ‘Modern Reading in 4/4 Time’ is a classic educational text for drummers. I was introduced to it by one of my tutors during my first term of music…

Louis Bellson’s ‘Modern Reading in 4/4 Time’ is a classic educational text for drummers. I was introduced to it by one of my tutors during my first term of music college as an accompaniment to the sight reading classes I was taking; prior to starting my music degree I’d grown up almost exclusively on TAB and had never seriously read notation on the bass – needless to say, it was a rude awakening…

This book helped me to dramatically improve my reading skills in a short amount of time, and I still dip into it if I’ve been on a reading gig and felt rhythmically rusty.

How Will It Benefit My Playing?


BENEFIT #1: Your sight reading skills will be transformed. 

Less Sight Reading Stress

This might sound obvious, but rhythm is (in my opinion) the trickiest aspect of reading notation. Variations in pitch have relatively limited possibilities, especially as most bass lines operate within the range of an octave and we’re generally only playing one note at a time. In contrast, there is much greater scope for rhythmic variation, and bass players have to be comfortable with navigating a broad spectrum of note values. Take a look at these examples:

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Example 1 – Jamiroquai ‘Runaway’

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Example 2 – Me’shell Ndegeocello ‘Bittersweet’

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Example 3 – Everything Everything ‘Cough Cough’

Increasing your familiarity with each type of rhythmic possibility (e.g. syncopated quavers, triplets, dotted and tied notes, semiquavers) will allow you to deal with complicated written phrases much more easily, as you instinctively know what each rhythmic ‘syllable’ sounds like. This knowledge allows you to ‘pre-hear’ a line that you’re reading before your fingers get to the notes.

BENEFIT #2: Mastering syncopation and subdivisions will improve your groove.

A Stronger Internal Clock

One of the ways that I help students to develop their sense of time is through internal clock exercises, which use changing subdivisions to help solidify each player’s rhythmic ability.

This is the first one:
Nearly everyone struggles with this, as it’s easy to fall into the trap of speeding up or slowing down when changing between subdivisions. In order to master this exercise, it’s vital to have a firm grasp on each individual subdivision before attempting to transition between them. Bellson’s book provides plenty of practice with each subdivision before combining them, covering every conceivable permutation of each rhythmic concept before introducing new material.

BENEFIT #3: Your ability to process complex rhythmic ideas will improve dramatically

A Broader Rhythmic Vocabulary

Once you’re confident with reading rhythmically complex ideas then these concepts will filter through into your ‘everyday’ bass playing, both in composition and improvisation. Becoming familiar with a range of rhythmic possibilities on paper also improves your ability to hear and reproduce those ideas when playing with other musicians.

  

BENEFIT #4: Improving your rhythm reading will make transcribing rhythms much easier. Your ability to write music is heavily dependent on your reading ability. 

More Accurate Transcriptions

The ability to hear a rhythmic phrase and visualise how it looks on paper is an essential part of the transcription process, and many bass parts have limited melodic content but are rhythmically complex. My basic training with Bellson allows me to quickly and accurately notate rhythmic information, which is a lifesaver when I have to transcribe a lot of tunes for a gig in a short amount of time.

Do you have a favourite instructional book? Tell me about it!

I’m always interested to hear about different methods that have helped people develop musically. If there’s a book that you love and feel deserves a wider audience then let me know by commenting on this post.

2 Comments on Unorthodox Instructionals, Part 3: Getting Even With Drummers

Rhythmic Displacement Part 2: Snarky Puppy – ‘What About Me?’

One of the most popular posts on this blog is a transcription of a Meshuggah tune that features some interesting rhythmic displacement ideas. Here’s a transcription in a similar vein…

One of the most popular posts on this blog is a transcription of a Meshuggah tune that features some interesting rhythmic displacement ideas. Here’s a transcription in a similar vein but from a more mainstream (and less angry) source, the heavily syncopated unison line in Snarky Puppy’s ‘What About Me?’:

The section I’ve written out comes at 45s into the track, and is featured again around the 5 minute mark:

Snarky Puppy - What About Me?

Just as in the Meshuggah transcription, the part here gets displaced when it repeats itself, creating an interesting rhythmic effect as the accented melody notes shift (compare bar 1 with bar 3).

This is a real test of your semiquaver rhythm reading abilities, but playing-wise most of the line is straightforward E minor pentatonic and falls under the fingers without too much trouble. The final run is worth taking your time over –  a minor pentatonic played in groups of 5 but phrased in semiquavers which has a strong Jaco influence to it.

8 Comments on Rhythmic Displacement Part 2: Snarky Puppy – ‘What About Me?’

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