Bassline Academy – Quarter Master Jam, Michael League

I found this video of Cory Henry and Michael League playing Quarter Master a while back (as well as a few others of them playing together at the same workshop – search Cory Henry and Michael League workshop in Rio on YouTube) and was utterly transfixed! It’s a wonderful example of the joy of two outstanding musicians simply making music. It has passion, groove, heart, soul, invention, spontaneity, interaction, energy, enthusiasm, the odd wobbly moment and plenty of bass face.

There was so much I liked about Michael League’s bass playing on this video I wanted to transcribe it and then try and reproduce it as accurately as possible (except the bass face, which is quite hard to do whilst playing tuba!) You learn so much by getting into the subtleties of the groove and phrasing playing along with someone else. And who better to play along with than Cory and Mike!

I’ve tried something new with this video by putting the sheet music transcription up along side the video so you can see exactly what is going on.
The tuba track is panned hard left and original audio is hard right. As the original audio sounds like a raw live mix straight off the desk, I’ve left my sound as the unaltered signal from my PZM mic with no EQ or effects.

Download a PDF of the bass transcription here.

Bassline Academy – For Once In My Life: James Jamerson/Stevie Wonder/Vulfpeck

This bassline is a special request from my friend Attilio. He sent me a link to Vulfpeck’s really cool cover/transcription/visualisation of the bassline from Stevie Wonder’s ‘For Once In My Life.’ My challenge was to play along and here’s the result.

I’ve written out Vulf’s version of James Jamerson’s playing, so this is transcription of a transcription! It’s not 100% accurate to the original (what transcription ever is) but is pretty close.

Speaking of the original, James Jamerson’s playing on the track is apparently revered by bassists as no one bar is like another, he just keeps improvising new material throughout the track and all the while keeping things laid back and in the pocket.

From a tuba point of view I found that playing this bassline in the same style as Vulfpeck (I’m presuming it’s Joe Dart) and Jamerson meant sustaining the notes more than I would do naturally in this type of music. I tend to bring longer notes off in a percussive way to add a bit of ‘slap’ and give me a chance to breathe when playing music like this. However, if you listen to the Vulfpeck track the bass is generally left quite sustained, with a few exceptions. I’ve tried my best to be faithful to this but I do need to breathe somewhere!

Get the PDF transcription of the bassline of For Once in my Life here.

Bassline Academy – Conscious Club, Joe Dart

This bassline comes from the band Vulfpeck and their amazing head nodding bass player Joe Dart. If you’ve not heard any Vulfpeck then check them out. They are tongue in cheek and seriously funky and, whilst all the band members are great musicians, Joe Dart is a stand out virtuoso.

Conscious Club (Instrumental) is there bare bones instrumental backing to the song by the same name. It works as a stand alone track and in the absence of ‘the tune’ it’s Joe Dart’s bassline that serves as a lot of the melodic interest. The song form is ABCBCACB but if we’re honest as bass players it’s the A section we’re most interested in. Fast, funky and fun to play. Joe sticks to the groove impeccably throughout but when he does choose to embellish the line it is always exciting and lightening quick!

Download the full transcription here – Conscious Club Transcription