Bass Transcription: Kirk Franklin – ‘Brighter Day’

Brighter Day is one of those tunes that I’ve been listening to on and off for years, but never had the occasion to play up until recently. This appeared on the setlist for a gig with the London International Gospel Choir, and although the piano/vocal score that I’d been sent prior to rehearsal gave a fairly vague ‘bird’s eye view’ of the harmony I was keen to do my homework in order to do the tune justice.

Kirk Franklin – ‘Brighter Day’ Bass Transcription PDF

Notes on the chart:

1. This is my best attempt to condense bass and synth parts into one line that’s playable on a bass guitar. At some points it’s very difficult to discern exactly who was playing what, so this represents a compromise between the two.
2. I’ve written this with a 5-string bass in mind, but it’s still playable on a standard tuned 4-string if you’re willing to do some transposition of low notes or use an octave pedal.
3. Some of the fills have been adapted to suit our instrument better (bar 84 features a low Bb on the recording, but I’m unwilling to detune for one note in a piece).

In spite of modern gospel bass having a reputation for being absurdly busy and technique-heavy, there’s not much in the way of ‘Gospelchops’ here; the difficulty in executing the lines comes from capturing all of the nuances that make the part work.

Feel-wise, we’re in swunk territory; 8th-notes are straight, but the 16th-note subdivisions are heavily swung and everything is played with a super laid back feel – think Pino on D’Angelo’s Voodoo.

On first look at the chart, you might well be surprised by the sheer number of glissandi* in the part – every entrance is preceded by a slide and almost every note on beats 1 and 3 of the main groove feature a fall-off of some sort. Accurately representing slides in a score is a real notational headache, as the majority of the noises that signal the bass’ arrival are largely unpitched. I’ve tried to get things in the right ballpark, but slides are a deeply personal element of bass playing – much like vibrato or grace notes – so steal what you can and mutate it into your own thing.

Here’s my take on the chorus groove:

*(don’t ever call them that in public, people will instantly want to hurt you)