Bass Transcription: Paramore – ‘Ain’t It Fun’

Paramore Ain't it Fun bass transcription pdf

‘Ain’t It Fun’ was Paramore’s fourth final single from the band’s fourth album (2013’s Paramore) that showcased their musical diversity and also landed them their best Billboard chart performance. Produced by Justin Meldal-Johnson, best known as Beck’s bassist and musical director, the song also features some prominent and intricate bass playing from Jeremy Davis.

Although they started out as a guitar-led rock band aimed squarely at the teen market, Paramore have grown into something altogether different with each successive album. ‘Ain’t It Fun’ has a strong soul/R’n’B influence evident in the swing 16th-note feel and the inclusion of a six-piece Gospel choir.

Paramore – ‘Ain’t It Fun’ bass transcription PDF

You’ll notice immediately that the transcription is littered with low C#s, which fall outside the range of a standard-tuned 4-string bass. On the recording, it sounds like a detuned 4-string rather than a 5-string; if you listen closely to the track you’ll hear how seamless the transition between notes is, which suggests an open C# string. It should be noted that I’m not usually a fan of detuning, as it makes reading standard notation that much more difficult; I’d rather dig out the 5-string and dust off that B string.

‘Ain’t It Fun’ Performance Notes

Verse: The main groove here is built primarily on staccato eight notes playing the root of each chord; having some separation between the notes helps to give the line more ‘bounce’ and a sense of urgency compared to regular eighths. Getting the staccato notes consistent will require some precise movements from the fretting hand; experiment with both fretted and open As here to see which sounds and feels better to you.

Prechorus: The most stiking feature of this section are the fills at bars 16 and 20. These both use notes from the C# minor pentatonic scale (or, if you prefer, the E major pentatonic) and feature some neat articulation (slides, hammer-ons, and pull-offs) that gives the fills some extra interest.

Breakdown: Bass takes centre stage here, alternating between driving, staccato eighth notes and melodic fills. The tremolo symbol at bar 80 is the best way I could find to convey that Jeremy is sliding down the string while plucking constant 16th-note triplets; the rhythm is far more important than the pitches here.

Final Chorus/Outro: The original chorus part is revisited and embellished as the song finishes, with more frequent fills – bars 108, 111, and 115 took me some time to get my fingers around as they’re not sequences that I would play if I had to improvise a fill; this might be good material to break you out of yor comfort zone!