Motown was a huge influence on me, and probably many others due to the fantastic bass, mostly created by James Jameson.
There is a book all about Jameson, with many transcriptions, albeit some have errors. I purchased this book with accompanying cassette tapes. It now has CDs, or even a link to mp3s. I decided to try and transcribe a track not in the book. There are parts where its quite difficult to hear quite what note is being played. Bar 7 is the one is this track. There is a drum hit which obscures the notes. It was bars 34/5 and 54/5 that made me want to transcribe the track.
Click the title below for the transcription. If you’d like a TAB version please contact me.
When I was at Junior School, I think it’s call year 5 now, madness were in the charts. I used to jump about to their music. The bass lines are very effective and really help keep movement in the tracks.
I decided to transcribe the bass line to House Of Fun. The bass player was Mark Bedford. There are only a few patterns in this, other than the middle section. The chorus is different each time, which I would never have known if I’d not decided to listen carefully to the track. It seems to be played with a pick, which I copied in the you tube clip below. I could play it using the open strings to limit movement on the neck, I just felt it had more heft to it without the open strings.
Click on the title below for the transcription. If you’d like a TAB version email me and I’ll get one to you.
The Wonder Of You was one of the first bass lines I learnt when starting out on bass. Which means it’s not a difficult bass line at all. I still see people get it musically wrong. Many years later, I’m now playing this song with an Elvis tribute act.
This is transcribed from the Elvis Presley single version recorded in February 1970. The main reason I decided to transcribe such an easy line, was that one day, I noticed a low E during the guitar solo. I never played a low E. I wondered how much more I’d missed. Not many players aim to play it as the recorded version and that’s fine by me, I like to get close and certainly in the style of the original recording. I think that is what helps a tribute artist stand out from the rest. It’s great getting one part correct, but if the rest is wrong, it won’t sound as close as it could do.
I’ve been told to progress in Jazz we need to listen and copy other players. Exactly as we learn to speak, we then use all this information to create our own sentences or bass lines. Ray Brown in one of the great upright Jazz bass players. I found his version of All The Things You Are, which had a few ( well a lot actually) nice lines in it, so I decided to transcribe those parts, or verses containing the lines I like the sound of.
The song is played at quite a fast tempo for this song.
In the first verse the section over the ii-v-i (bars 17-20) are particularly interesting. I also liked the sequence he used in bars (61-63). There’s a lot more to it, but I think analysing it yourself is much more useful than someone doing it for you. I certainly has given me many more ideas when playing walking bass lines. Anything part you like in this.
I’ve only written the chords over the first verse. Also note, I used iRealPro for the backing, which meant I couldn’t replicate the same turnaround in the first verse, but it’s written in the music.
My Walking bass lines particularly over the jazz blues progression all seemed the same, so I decided I needed to do something about it. I’ve studied some Charlie Parker sax lines which mostly full over jazz blues, at least the lines I’ve currently looked at have. The next thing would be to listen to the bass line on these recordings and listen to lines I could use in my own playing. I find it easier to write them out, that way I will always have a record of them to look at. Of course, these old recordings don’t have the best sound sound separation as more modern recordings. Picking out the bass was really hard in places. For this reason, I only transcribed the first 4 progressions (48 bars). Curley Russell is the bass player.
One thing to note in the transcriptions is that I have written the standard Jazz Blues chords over the top, the Charlie Parker Omnibook, doesn’t have this track as a standard jazz blues, iRealPro, which I used in the YouTube clip, uses the standard Jazz blues progression. You can hear a few clashes. Particularly bar 26, where Curley Russell plays A, the usual sequence would be Bb. Also we don’t hear the diminished chord in the sixth bar as usual.
My most recent YouTube upload and bass transcription is Bruno Mars’ ‘Locked Out Of Heaven’. This was played by Nick Movshan who isn’t the regular bass player with Mars.
Like my previous post of ‘Sign Sealed Delivered’, this is again popular for function bands. I decided it would be an interesting one to transcribe. Not too difficult. In the breakdown section towards the end, I wasn’t entirely sure what was the electric bass, and what was covered by the synths. I’m quite sure that bars 58-61 didn’t have the octave jump on the bass part as earlier in the part, instead, it sounded just like the synth bass playing the octave. Also the breakdown section I added a bass part closest to the recording, I would play if on a gig.
I thought I would try to transcribe and notate a Motown bass line. I choose Bob Babbitt’s line on Stevie Wonder’s ‘Sign Sealed Delivered’. A popular tune for function bands, so I’m quite sure many bass players already know this. However, there are a few nice little phrases in this, check out bars 19-20 and 47-48 both over and F chord. Babbitt has a few nice little rhythmic changes during the fade out.
The run at the start (which repeats through out the song) gave me a few issues. Was it an A or Ab? In a clip of Bob Babbitt playing this, he plays an Ab, listen carefully and you can hear the note is an A sliding in from the Ab. The music show a slide, so bare in mind its a slide from a semi-tone below.
Many of the bass players I like all have a background in jazz music; James Jameson, Jerry Scheff, Carol Kaye, the list can go on. It made me consider learning jazz. 5 years ago, I started. I would say my general playing has improved. Anyway, on to this post. I was trying to record directly into my phone using an iRig attached to my interface. It works, but I still needed to increase the volume in iMovie for upload. Any suggestions to increase the recording level and do it all in the phone would be appreciated. Here’s the track I recorded.
1st time through I played the tune, 2nd a bass solo, final time, I just played a bass line. Like a jazz jam, but on my own.
When I first heard Joss Stone’s version of L-O-V-E, I was instantly drawn to the bass line. Not surprising being a bass player. This one stood out to me. I was going to transcribe it myself, then found it online, with a few mistakes. I decided to record it. Not easy!
I’m quite sure the original version features Raphael Saadiq on bass, playing a Fender Precision bass with flatwound strings. However, when I tried to record the bass with the Bass-less backing track, it just didn’t sit right in the mix. I then tried with round wound strings and the tone rolled off. Eventually I settled with the tone full up. Almost the complete opposite to the original recording I’m comparing to.
My next hurdle was a few techniques that I hadn’t used before. Trills, between frets, I’ve still not got them a well as I’d like. The final hurdle, was that I’ve always played slightly ahead of the beat. Not a problem with the music I had been doing. On this track, it needed a relaxed, approach.
Playing bass in theatres with Lee Memphis King, the Elvis Tribute Artist, there are few clips because video isn’t allowed. People that do manage to sneak a clip, don’t tend to put it on YouTube. Instead, they probably just show their friends to show them what they have been doing and seeing.
I just found this one clip of suspicious minds recorded at Northampton Derngate Theatre. You can see the audience are having a great time, and why not, it’s a great show.
I have transcribed the bass part for this from Elvis’s ’72 show at Madison Sq Garden. Jerry Scheff, Elvis’ bass player, played it different every time. I’ll post a link to the transcription in due course. Meanwhile, enjoy the one and a half minute clip with myself on bass.