Ron Carter Playing "Blues in F" Analyzed Note-By-Note

Back again with another transcription. This time really meaty stuff for us bass player - a walking line in F Blues.

Know how to make all your tappers, slappers, hair-scrunchy users, 9-string-detuned-to-a-low-C-alto-contrabass players pipe down?

Tell them to walk over an F Blues for a couple of choruses. Yea, suddenly they have to fix some knobs on their amp or something....real quick.

But I kid, all that stuff is great, but most people want and need BASS playing underneath them, and you can't get more back to basics than playing a bass line over an F blues. People spend lives and careers doing this. I can't even imagine how many times people like Jerry Jemmott, Ray Brown, Paul Chambers, John Paul Jones, or any other well known bass player walked or played blues of some style. Probably represents years worth of their time spent playing. If you can't make a blues sound good.....keep practicing!

Here is Ron Carter's bass line from a play-along he did many moons ago. It was from an Abersold playalong of Charlie Parker tunes, but this was a blues in F.

The recording is on Spotify, along with many other Abersold and Hal Leonard play alongs. Not an advertisement for them, just was up there and found there are quite a few play alongs on Spotify. So there you go, hunt it down and listen to him play it. It is from Vol 6., "All Bird".

Ron Carter gets called "The Most Recorded Bassist Ever", and it would take 10 pages to list everyone he has played with, everyone from Miles Davis to rappers. Take a look at how a master plays over one of the foundational song forms.

Some questions one might ask oneself:

  1. What notes does he use?
  2. How rhythmically complex is the line?
  3. Does he play roots on specific beats?
  4. How does he handle chords that last two measures? Or chords that only last two beats?

All the notes are labeled with the relationship they have to that particular chord. So for instance if you see the note "C" on a "C7" it is the root, ("R"), but if you see a "C" on an "F7" it is "5" or on a "Bb7" it is a "9".

Check it out and steal some lines from the best!


Charlie Parkers's Solo on "Bloomdido" Analyzed

So I have been hammered by what appears to be flu cancer and have been totally sick for a week, so it got me in front of my computer to do some nerd stuff with a very cool set of tools for music analysis called Music 21. It is written by some smarty pants that go to M.I.T, well, la de da, but they make it available for free, so when the revolution comes, we won't put them up against the wall. Not first anyway.

Music21 is a set of Python libraries (its a computer language) that knows about music. And boy, does it know stuff. This thing was written to analyze music and it can slice and dice musical info every way you want from last Tuesday.

Want to know the key of a tune? Psh. Easy.
Want to know how many "C" notes there are that are also 16th notes? Make me do something hard. Done.
What to label every note of a Charlie Parker solo so you can see what the relationship of each note is to the chord is played on?


Yup, it can do stuff like that.

So for your analytical pleasure, I give you from the "Omnibook" Charlie Parker's solo on Bloomdido (a blues) with all of his notes labeled against each chord.

So what.

SOOO, this lets you break down and see the recipe for his licks.

For instance, instead of thinking of a lick as going "G A Bb C D C D", if you can see the relationship that those note have against a chord, say in this case G min, then you can use that lick on ANY minor chord. Rather than note names, if you think of the relationship these notes have, "Root, 9th, b3, 11, 5, 11" rather than just their names, this lets you see how they work against that chord, what their function is. If you want to do this lick in D minor now, play those notes - R, 9, b3, 11, 5, 11. It's a lot faster.

So here is the full pdf for your viewing pleasure. The file was taken from a Finale file someone posted on the internet, and I don't know where I got it, so if it was you, thanks.

And here is Bird and Diz playing it, also with notation. This uses the Omnibook, and its not exactly the same as the version I got, but it is really close.

Music21 is pretty powerful and interesting, so if you are into music analysis and computers, check it out. More stuff to come using it in the future for sure. And if anyone has a solo or a bass line they want analyzed, just let me know. It needs to be in either a notation file format (Sibelius, Finale, etc.) or in MusicXML, with chord symbols on every measure, no empty measures.



Bass Player Live 2013 Artist Sessions now Online

Bass Player magazine has posted many of the artist sessions from this year to YouTube. Glad to see them up there. 

They have posted previous years videos to their own site in the past, but their site has always been a bit awkward and ad-laden. 

Here are the ones from this year on YouTube. Sheehan, Janek, Nathan East, John Taylor (huh?), Alphonso Johnson, Rhonda Smith and a lot more. 


Hardian Feraud playing "Port Of Entry" with Zawinul Legacy Band

Here is the Zawinul Legacy Band's take on the Weather Report song "Port of Entry" which has an epic Jaco bass solo in it. Hadrian quotes from it throughout his solo, and does some shredding of his own. Ridiculous.


Chris Tarry's Site Now Free

Per his email:

For over a year Chris Tarry Lessons has been a membership-only site, and we've had a thriving community of like-minded bassists studying with me through the use of the video lessons and virtual one-on-one mentorship. Unfortunately, touring, a growing family, and other time constraints have made it difficult for me to continue the commitment, so I decided to throw open the doors and make the entire site free.

Come on by and check it out! With over 150 lessons, backing tracks, interviews, and more, Chris Tarry Lessons is now one of the largest FREE bass instruction resources around.

Chris is a monster player with multiple albums and Canadian Grammy awards under his belt, and he is out there living, playing and teaching in NYC so this is some great real world stuff. There are a ton of great lessons here! Check it out and let him know you appreciate his generosity.



Jaco Playing Chromatic Fantasy Live in California

Before Jaco went back to Florida (where he would eventually die) he played in the San Francisco bay area with drummer Brian Melville and even recorded an album with him.

This clip is from that time period, and although not the Jaco from 10 years before, it is still amazing what he could do. It looks like he is playing his famous Bass of Doom but with a fretted neck on it instead of a fretless.

This might be the only footage of Jaco ever playing his adaptation of Bach's Chromatic Fantasy. Watch a bit of history.


Jaco In Seattle...from 1976

This must be from the first Weather Report tour with Jaco in the band. Here is a pretty decent audience recording of Jaco taking a solo in front of the Wayne Shorter tune "Lusitanos".

You can hear some classic Jaco-isms in his solo - pentatonic runs in odd note groupings, playing all the color tones and extensions, and of course, the tone and the groove. Oh the groove.

This was at the Paramount West Theatre in Seattle on May 27th, in 1976, so Jaco was just starting to be heard by the world.


NAMM 2013 Bass Shred Porn

It's NAMM time again, so there are of course a ton of youtube videos of great bass players showing off just how much better they than you (and me). Here are a few of the folks whose names we all recognize filmed at this years NAMM show doing disgusting things to various bass guitars.


Marcus Miller on Travis Smiley

Marcus playing an unaccompanied version of "Detroit".  He has the melody and everything in there. He splits it up on the record, but you can hear how he must have written this one on bass since it is all there even when it is just him. 


New Evan Marien Tracks

Evan Marian has just released  a new 5-track album, some of which he recorded at Matt Garrison's ShapeShifter lab in NYC.

Evan mixes some serious shred into electronic music and the result it some dub-stepy electronic music with electric bass all over it, so check it out if you want to hear how you don't have to leave this stuff to just synth players.