tisdag 18 december 2012

Bonus song: Eleanor Rigby

This one always grabs my ears while listening to Revolver. A true testament to the band's lust for experimentation at this point, none of the band play any of the instruments on the record. Instead a double string quartet was employed i.e each part is played simultaneously by two musicians. The bass instrument of the string quartet is of course the cello so that is what I have transcribed here. Due to the cello being tuned in fifths it has a much greater range than the bass. The highest note, an E, is situated at the 21st fret on the G-string so if you only have 20 be prepared to do some bending. As all of the song is played arco (with a bow) it's better suited for upright than electric but can with some practice sound good played on both. Getting the length of notes right is essential, because of the lack of drums the bass is rhythmic driving point of the song.
I've included two transcriptions; one transposed and one untransposed. Essentially, if you find the upper register one hard to read, you could just play the first one an octave higher than written.
The part is ably performed by Derek Simpson and Norman Jones.

Thoughts or feedback? Drop me a line in the comments.

måndag 17 december 2012

Don't Let Me Down

This amazing gem is perhaps best known for being one of the numbers of the famous rooftop concert in 1969, where it was played twice, but was also the B-side to the Get Back single. Recorded during the Let It Be sessions it was ultimately left off the album by producer Glyn Johns.
Lennon's lament of love to his wife-to-be Yoko Ono is soulful song in 4/4 with a few pickup measures in 5/4 giving the verses a very special pull.
McCartney delivers a bassline truly embodies the ideals of Let It Be;free, driving and sponteneous (and he sure sounds to have a good time).
Peppered with pentatonic 16th fills it's busy, fun and very much improvised (a stark contrast to the composed lines of Sgt Pepper and White Album).
Paul used his well worn Höfner (which hade been previously retired as he got his Rickenbacker in 1964) for much of the Let It Be and all of the rooftop concert. Due to its mucher lighter weight and shorter scale it made busy lines such as this much easier to play.

Thoughts or feedback? Drop me a line in the comments.

fredag 14 december 2012

Think for Yourself

Today let's look at George Harrison composition. By 1965's Rubber Soul Harrison had started coming into his own as a songwriter. His songs differed quite a lot from the Lennon/McCartney in that they often featured odd chord progressions and melodies. Think for Yourself, for instance, heavily features the Bb11 chord (Eb/Bb). A quite strange chord in the overall G-G7 tonality.
Anyway, on to the real point. The melody of the song became a bit difficult to pull for the, then, quite inexperienced lead singer Harrison so producer George Martin suggested a second bass line - a fuzz box laden lead bass line to guide him to the right notes.
Not only did it help him hit the right notes, it also helped this filler track really stand out and introduce a virtually unheard of bass sound to the world. There is also a standard bass line, similar to the basic but soulful playing on the album.
I've uploaded three different versions of this transcription; one with just the regular bass line, one with the fuzz bass and one with both so you can pick and mix.
The latter is probably your best bet if you want to play the song live, as the bass line is quite dull and the fuzz line is fun but a bit to sparse to work as a stand alone bass line.

Thoughts or feedback? Drop me a line in the comments,

onsdag 12 december 2012

Happiness Is A Warm Gun

This gem off of the white album is a strong contender for the most complex song ever performed by the fab four. As stated in my previous post, this song was an inspiration for the Let It Be-project due to the fact that it required everyone to be on the top of their game and not simply session men for the songwriter.
 Lennon's composition is almost schizophrenic in it's constant change of style and time signature. But it all sounds very natural; an effect of this being a very tight group who had played together about ten years at this point in time (a couple of them far longer). Everyone pulls together and the result is really amazing. McCartney is on fire and John delivers one of his most compelling vocals of the whole album. Give it a few good listens whilst reading along with the music to get a feel for the song before attempting to play along.
A few clarifications may be in order; 12/8 is of course shuffle, so 9/8 is basically 3/4 in shuffle time. I orginally wanted the 5/4 measures in letter F to be 10/8 but Finale doesn't recognize this as a valid time signature. Just listen and read along and you'll get it.

måndag 10 december 2012

Two Of Us

The Let It Be album is a very interesting listen, especially when you consider the circumstances in which it was conceived. Orginally, after the tumultuous recording of the the white album, McCartney's idea was to get the band on the road again. A certain spark had been lit in the sessions where they had really had to work together as group to acheive the best possible result. In particular the sessions for the very tricky Happiness is a Warm Gun. He was quickly vetoed by his band mates who were convinced it would never end well. Instead a new idea was hatched; an album recorded live with minimal or no overdubs, and the whole thing was to be filmed as well. To really show that the band could still play.

To say the least, the project failed. Instead of getting the group closer together it really mad light of how far they'd grown apart, with all conflicts coming up to the surface. Paul thought he needed to steer the band, whilst the others saw this as a need to take total control. Several clashes and fights made it clear that the mission had failed and the sessions were aborted.

But the band had still recorded a lot of songs during the sessions and some of them were really good. And the intimate sound of four guys playing together can be very compelling. And the musicianship is very impressive.

Two Of Us is a semi acoustic song featuring McCartney and Lennon both on acoustic guitar and Ringo on brushes. The very dextrous bass line is all courtesy of George Harrison, played on his Telecaster guitar. No matter which instrument it's played on it's undoubtedly the songs bass line and apart from the vocal leading melody instrumet as well.
In trying to replicate the line, pay great mind to Harrison's frequent use of slides. The main bass line during A should be played mostly horizontally, i.e don't stick in one position but instead move the hand along the same string. Two Of Us can be tricky to play, mostly because the line is more of a melody line than a bass line and therefore comes with different challenges. Try to relax and lean on the drums and guitars, in this song you rely on them more than they rely on you. Good luck. 
Thoughts or feedback? Drop me a line in the comments.

fredag 7 december 2012

For No One

A quickie today. I've chosen For No One off of 1966's brilliant Revolver  to show McCartney's ballad sensibility.  Paul (who also played the guitar, piano and clavichord parts) manages to be melodic without ever getting in the way of the vocals.
While the sixteenths may look busy and can be tricky to pull off they never sound that way. And that is the real lesson here :)
The song is almost a solo song in that the only other Beatle on the recording is Ringo Starr on drums and tambourine.
Thoughts or feedback? Drop me a line in the comments.

onsdag 5 december 2012

With A Little Help From My Friends

What better place to start this celebration than the universially acclaimed Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The band were through with touring and dead set on making the most out of the recording studio. This can very much be seen as McCartney's record, featuring a wealth of hs compositions as well as him playing both piano and guitar on a number of tracks. This is where his meticulous attention to detail in his bass lines came to the forefront as well.
Each track features a unique line, peppered with McCartneyisms. Apparentley he often recorded the bass last, after the rhythm section was already in place, and was therefore afforded to really sculpt his line to fit into all the spaces left by the others. Even the usually throwaway song sung by Ringo got treated to a great line.

 With a Little Help From My Friends is usually attributed to Lennon, but the arrangement is very Paul-centric. This is a very good example of Paul taking the sub-hook role. The verse's descending line feature roots and thirds and is played quite staccato. The line is easiest to pull off if you star off around the twelth fret, that way the fills won't require you to change positions. Slightly palm mute (especially if you're using roundwounds) and play it with a pick.

Thoughts or feedback? Drop me a line in the comments.


Yup, you read it right. Starting today, december will be Beatlemania-month here at Carl Greder's Bass Transcriptions. A whole month featuring the Fab Four and their many great basslines. Paul McCartney will be the star of the show, but he wasn't the only one to supply the bottom end on the records. We will feature huge hits, obscure gems and a special surprise come christmas eve.

Look for updates mondays, wednesdays and fridays.

The first song will be up shortly.

söndag 2 december 2012

Humble Pie - 30 Days In The Hole

Formed in 1969 by Small Faces front man Steve Marriott, Humble Pie was at the time considered something of supergroup. Apart from Marriott, it consisted of The Firm's lead guitarist/singer Peter Frampton (who, of course, made quite a name for himself once he went solo), teenaged powerhouse drummer Jerry Shirley and Spooky Tooth bassist Greg Ridley.

Frampton left the band in '71 after a row of successful albums and was replaced by Clem Clempson, effectively making Marriott the creative leader. This meant that the band more fully embraced their jammy nature and really gave the rhythm section time to shine. The 1973 album Smokin' is perfect example of why Ridley and Shirley were considered one of the best rhythm sections in Britain at the time and nowhere is Ridley's feel and influence on the band's overall sound more obvious than in hit single 30 Days In The Hole.
 Starting off with an accapella rendition of the song's chorus, the song begins proper around the 30 second mark. The main riff with just drums and guitar doubles as both the intro and verse and Ridley doesn't enter until measure 14 in which he plays a fill that returns several times throughout the song. The next verse begins at letter C. Ridley plays an embellished variation of the guitar part, regularily spiced up with fills, culminating in measure 22's killer fill leading into the first chorus.
Letter D is the chorus, a simple two chord progression where Ridley settles into a simpler yet still very groovy line. Note the syncopated sixteenths at the end of each measure, they're a big part of the line that's easy to miss.
A slide from the D-string's 14th fret E leads us into the second verse at letter E. Similar to the first, but featuring even more cool Ridley fills.
Measures 34, 38, 42 and 46 each feature their own approach. Ridley never seems to be far from the 12th fret and always has fast and easy access to the upper register of his bass.
Letter F is short chorus, instantly leading into the bridge at letter G.
Letter H is the final verse and Ridley is back in full gear. Loads of energy and plenty of great fills. You can clearly hear him messing up at 62, going to the pre-chorus D-chord while still on the verse but he manages to  turn it into one song's coolest fills. So no harm done I guess.
Letter I is the chorus on repeat, in which Ridley makes a variation every other time on the A chord, the song then fades out.

Ridley, who passed away in 2003, is easily one the most underrated bass players of 70's rock and deserves a lot more recognition for his work. He was a soulful fingerstyle player at a time when such a thing was virtually unheard of, especially in England, and an essential part of Humble Pie's sound.

Thoughts or feedback? Drop me a line in the comments.

tisdag 20 november 2012

Luther Vandross - A House Is Not A Home

Luther Vandross already had over ten years professional experience as a singer, songwriter and backing vocalist - most notable with Roberta Flack and Quincy Jones - when he released his break-through album Never Too Much in 1981. It featured an array Vandross-penned up-tempo funk numbers backed by keyboard player Nat Adderly Jr, (swedish) guitar player Georg Wadenius, drummer Buddy Williams and for the bulk of the record bassist Marcus Miller. Most of them then part of the Saturday Night Live Band.
But Vandross is perhaps best known for the ballads, and when it came time for the album's lone slow crooner - the Bacharach/David-penned Dionne Warwick hit A House Is Not A Home - he instead turned too the great Anthony Jackson for the bass part. Jackson, who had recently started to exclusively play his own invention the six-string bass, provides an immense amount of character to the track.

From the moment he enters in measure five he takes control over the session always seemingly dictating where the groove is going. Already in the intro/interlude Jackson makes good use of his extended range, extra effective due to songs very slow tempo and the amount of space he is given by the other musicians.
The first verse impresses with Jackson's ability to contain himself given these circumstances, basically playing whole notes throughout. When the chorus arrives his quarter notes are all the more assertive and the 16ths in measure 20 seems to come out of nowhere.
Verse 2 gives Jackson a bit more room to stretch - the 32nd note tremolo in 27 and the 16th note fill in 28 are classic Jackson - and he carries the feel over to the next chorus, spicing it up with 16th fills in measures 32 and 33.
The bridge sees Jackson digging even deeper, steering the band through the ever changing time signatures and cushioning Vandross through ritadando.
What follows are several minutes of wailing vocals with a bunch of really cool Jacson fills that I've simply haven't had time to finish. Someday :)

Thoughts or feedback? Drop me a line in the comments

onsdag 7 november 2012

Glenn Campbell - Wichita Lineman

Today's transcription is the cool, laid back line from Glenn Campbell's Wichita Lineman, featuring the always interesting pickstyle playing of session ace Carol Kaye.

The whole record starts off with  a distinctive rhythmic figure stated by Carol's bass, which returns in measure 3. She does a two-fret downward slide into the first verse. The bass instantly locks with the bass drum, making occasional fills on the fourth beat (measures 8, 10 and 11) to not interfere with Glenn's vocals and then doing another two-fret slide into the chorus.

The chorus sees Carol in a more subdued mode, outlining the harmony with a chromatically descending bass line and measure 16s rhythmically unison figure.
Carol then lays down whole notes behind the "morse-code" guitar of the interlude.
Verse 2 opens with a re-stating of the intro bass fill and then follows along the lines of the first verse.
What follows is the chorus, opening with a killer fill in measure 29 and then going into the descending line.
My transcription then abondons the bass line in favor of the solo, played by Campbell on Carols Fender Bass VI. If you want to keep holding down the bottom it's the same chords as the verse but I think it's more fun stepping out. Dial up a plunky tone and stomp on a tremolo effect for the best result. The solo is basically stating the verse melody in the bass octaveand adding some cool quarter triplets and a cool polyrhythmic sounding line in measure 42.

This is an incomplete transcriptions, but the are no other segments I've left out. The song only returns to parts we've already seen. I'll complete it someday.

Thoughts or feedback? Drop me a line in the comments.

onsdag 31 oktober 2012

Beck - Debra

Our first transcription is Debra, from Beck's 1999 album Midnite Vultures. 
Anchored by the wonky yet funky upright bass of long-time Beck collaborator Justin Meldal-Johnsen (JMJ), the song is a tongue in cheek soul crooner that had long been a fan favourite in the liveshows.

The bass enters at letter A, after two bars guitar intro, and introduces the main bass line under a horn melody. It can be played either with a back and forth sliding motion or hammer-ons and pull-offs. Pick the one that feels most comfortable and stick with for the duration.
Letter is the first verse. Here we can see the first embellishments on the line. The first measure stays the same throughout but the second measure gets slight rhthmic alterations. Fairly straightforward but beware of the triplet drop in ending 7 and the long fill going into the chorus at ending 8.
Letter C is the first chorus. Make sure that you nail both the one and two of the first measure to give it a bit of extra push. Measure 18 features a really cool slide from the G-string B all the way to the octave G. 19 has the unison stabs. Note how JMJ chooses the higher F in order to prepare going back down again via the A-string C.
At letter D JMJ takes rest during the first half of measure one, entering at beat 3. Very cool way to grab the listeners ear in minimalist way.
E is the second verse which features tutti stabs in both measure 26 and 27. Note how JMJ embellishes the stabs with a line on the upbeat in measure 27. 33 has a sixteenth upbeat that may look daunting but is much easier to pull off than it looks.
The second chorus at F is just about identical to the first, leaving plenty of room for the horns and Beck's vocals. After stabs we get another, different, interlude at G giving JMJ some space to stretch out during 44 and 45.
H is a breakdown with a more sparse groove and a different bass line. Look out for the sixteenth triplets at the end of 53 and 57, with 57 being especially crucial since it's in unison with drummer Joey Waronker.
I  is pure JMJ, a real "out" lick beginning on beat four of measure 61 and ending on beat 1 of measure 63, it's a real head turner. He then settles into yet another bass line for the outro. Built on the tenths and slides from back in the A bass line it also features a three over four rhythm at the end of each measure. The unison sixteenth triplets from H return in measure 71, ending on whole note G in measure 72. The song fades out on  the same guitar part from the intro.

Thoughts or feedback? Drop a line in the comments.


Welcome one and all to Carl Greder's Bass Transcriptions where I'll post new transcriptions for electric and upright bass done by myself every week.
I'll do anything, from hiphop to metal, from pop to samba, from country to reggae depending on my mood and your feedback.
If you want a specific song transcribed, let me know and we'll work something out.

See ya