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.