Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My version of Victor Wooten's "More Love"

Hey! It's been a long time since my last post. Here's my transcription of this awesome solo piece from Maestro Wooten. Although it's available on his "Best Of Victor Wooten" book, I decided to write my version for an (almost) standard-tuned bass (it's written for a tenor bass in the book). Besides, and with all the due respect, I don't feel comfortable with the way it's written there (6/8 with 8ths as the beat unit instead of 3/4 with quarter notes as the beat unit - I feel it more logical that way).

Standard notation only. Sorry, no tablature here. The transcription in the book basically separates the melody from the accompaniment using upstems for the former and downstems for the latter. I preferred to write everything that is supposed to be played with the right (plucking) hand either tapped or strummed using upstemmed notes, while all the notes played by tapping with the left (fretting) hand are downstemmed (the very first measure is the only exception to this). I wrote all dead notes on the fourth space, but it doesn't mean anything regarding where the fretting and/or plucking hand should play. They are just dead notes, played wherever it feels more comfortable at the moment. Here's the transcription:

More Love (Eng)

And here's the accompanying video:

Hope you find this material useful. Thanks for reading and watching! :^)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Slap bass intro riff for Wille Colón's "Tiempo Pa' Matar"

Hi again. Here's a new effort, which I hope you'll find useful (and cool). Here's the description as posted to YouTube:

In 1984, Salsa singer/trombonist/band leader Willie Colón released an album called "Tiempo Pa' Matar", which included the smash hit "Gitana". As far as I know, it was the only track that got extensive airplay. But it also included a little gem that was chosen to give name to the album. "Tiempo Pa' Matar" (the song) features a cool slap bass intro recorded by master Salvador "Sal" Cuevas, and I decided to capture my version of that riff. I don't know how master Cuevas played it and it was not my intention to play it exactly as he did. The original version has much less dead notes, and I thought the riff would sound even cooler by adding a steady 16th-note (8ths in cut time) percussive pattern as a background for the main melody. Not that it's "my style" since I didn't invent it and there are lots of people who like to play that way, but anyway this version is a closer representation of the way I tend to feel this kind of stuff. Hope you like it.

That's it. I want to emphasize the fact that this is DEFINITELY NOT the exact way in which master Sal Cuevas playing the riff. Here's the original (full) song for you to check out:

So this is simply my version, which I think is a valid one in spite of the fact of not being 100% identical to the original. Here's the transcription:

Tiempo Pa' Matar (Bass Intro)

And here's the demonstration video:

I think the articulations are pretty clear and/or easy to infer for an experienced player. Perhaps it is worth noticing that cross-strings slurs are performed by hitting the string with the fretting hand alone (hammer-on from nowhere). The dead-note chords you'll see in the transcription are a way to indicate that a left (fretting) hand slap should be executed there (all the fingers hit all the strings, so I thought it makes sense). Thanks for stopping by! :^)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A short bass workout courtesy of Master Frank Zappa

Hi again.

This is a short fragment that I've always considered an excellent exercise. I've taught it to my students from long ago, but I've just recorded it on video, so here's the full transcription and the accompanying video:
Echidna's Arf (of You) Coda - Electric Bass

The original version, recorded by terrific bassist Tom Fowler, is played entirely fingerstyle. But as you can see, I decided to slap a section. Choose the approach you like the most. Have fun!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bass solo: Randy Coven's "Funk Me Tender"

Hey! It's been a while since my last post. Here's a new transcription/video combo:

Funk Me Tender

As you can see, this transcription includes articulation marks: "T" = Thumb, "P" = Pop, "LH" = Left hand slap. On measure 10 you'll find a downward glissando that cannot be played on a 4-string bass (I don't play it in the video). That's because Randy Coven recorded this solo with a whammy bar-equipped bass. Have fun!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bassline for Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke"

Hello! Again, a transcription with video. Here's the info I posted to YouTube:

Hi again. As usual, I'm taking advantage of my vacation time to create new material.

This time, I'm honoring a request that many friends have sent to me: The bassline for Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke". I know the song from long ago, but never played it before. Very cool and fun line! I had a great time transcribing and learning it. I want to take a minute to talk about a couple decisions I made before recording:

1. The instrument: Basically, I wanted a passive bass for this and that's why I didn't use the Bongos or the Steinberger. My wish was to use the Peavey T-40 for this, but it needs a fret leveling in the high register (which is definitely needed here). So, the Rickenbacker was the chosen one because of that.

2. Detuning: There are some points in this line in which a low D# can be heard as a quick passing note. I don't see the point of detuning just the E string for playing a note that can barely be heard (again, a passing note), so I guess the bass that Nathan Watts used for this recording was tuned (low to high) D# - G# - C# - F#. Can't confirm that, but anyway I decided to follow my guess, so that's why you'll see that I'm playing the song in C major but it sounds in the original key of B major. Playing it that way, it becomes very evident (for the player) that the open A and D strings were also used to play quick passing notes. But a minor problem appeared, since the Rickenbacker 4003 has 20 frets: The unison line with the horn section reaches a high D#, which wouldn't be a problem if the bass were in standard tuning (that's precisely the highest note that can be found on a 20-fret fingerboard). But having it detuned, an extra fret is needed to get that note, so I had to bend the G string to sound a semitone above the pitch at the 20th fret. Nothing difficult, but anyway an example of why I'm not a fan of fingerboards with less than 24 frets (playing 4- and 5-string basses exclusively, as in my case).

At the end of the video, you'll see the bass-horns riff played at 75% and 50% of the actual speed. Hope this new release will help whoever wants to play this cool song but doesn't know where to start. Stay tuned to my blog for the transcription:

Thanks for watching! :=)

P.S.: Sorry for the constant light reflex on the bass' upper horn. Only noticed it after the video was done.

Maybe I should add that the tempo on that recording varies a lot, so I opted not to put any tempo marks in the transcription. Hope you find it useful. :=)

Sir Duke Bass Line)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

More Latin (Salsa) stuff

Hi again. Here's my transcription of the bassline in the video below,and a copy/paste of the video description:

Hi again.

Several friends have asked me to play some Salsa tunes on YouTube. Since that's a style that I also enjoy a lot, I've decided to record my version of this cool bassline. "Escarcha" ("Frost") was released in 1987 on the "Héctor Lavoe Strikes Back" album. I was convinced that the bass player on this album was the great Salvador "Sal" Cuevas, but according to All Music Guide, Oskar Cartaya was the one in charge of bass duties. Also a terrific player.

It's not common to use a fretless bass guitar to record Salsa tunes. Actually, I don't know of a Salsa hit that features a fretless BG. But I've always liked the idea and that's why I decided to use my fretless Bongo for this recording. Of course, I'm not trying to mimic the tone on the original recording (which seems to be a Jazz Bass) but simply sharing my sonic idea of a bass guitar in a Salsa context. I don't play my fretted basses so close to the fingerboard, but I like to do it on the fretless, looking to emphasize the "mwah" factor. Roundwounds also help a lot, but I feel sort of paranoid about puting roundwounds on an uncoated fretless fingerboard. Anyway, I also like the darker tone of flats for this type of music. For sections in which I wanted more punch, I moved my plucking hand closer to the bridge.

Most slurred notes on this bassline are played with hammer-ons for sure, but I used slides instead, also trying to get the most of the distinctive qualities of the fretless bass. Playing an non-tempered (fretless) instrument over a tempered (fretted) one makes slight pitch differences even more noticeable, specially on the high register. I tried to do my best to sound the less out-of-tune possible. There's also a little rushing here and there (well, rushing is the reason why the song ends at a much faster tempo than the one at the beginning. But the recording doesn't follow me, so my mistakes are the most evident :=( ). The angle in which the camera captured the performance makes the fingerboard positions look farther from the headstock than one normally thinks they are (from the player's point of view).

Hope you find this new effort enjoyable and helpful. I know there are lots of bassists interested in learning to play Salsa and, although I still have lots of things to learn and this performance is far from "perfect", I think it may shed some lights. Anyway, remember that in most cases, playing Latin music isn't about technical difficulties or dazzling technique but playing with authority. Have fun! :=)

Escarcha (Bassline)