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.

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