Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas!!

Hey everyone! Just a quick post to say a massive thank you for all the support I've had in my first year (6 months!) of running this blog! In this short time you bass lovers have managed to give me 8500 YouTube views, 6500 blog views, 1400 SoundCloud plays and almost 600 downloads of my transcriptions which I find pretty unbelievable really!

So thanks again, keep checking out my posts and videos and I'll keep putting them up! Don't be scared to leave me a comment and let me know what you want to see too!

A very merry Bassmas to you all, see you in the new year!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Lick Of The Month #7

Our last lick of 2012 is here, and it's a whopper!! It's a 3 bar long triplet assault played by Joe Henderson on Horace Silver's 'Song For My Father'.

The lick can be heard on this version of the song at about 4:20 over 3 bars of F-7.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Take The A Train Transcription

This week I've been looking at 'Take The A Train' and more importantly how bass legend, Anthony Jackson, played a chorus from it! Out of all the great versions out there I picked this one to see how an electric bassist tackles it rather than an upright player like all the other transcriptions I have done so far.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Dirk Lance with Willie's Nerve Clinic - New Tune!

Yo! I've just found out that Dirk Lance (Incubus founding member and all round bass legend) has formed a new group call Willie's Nerve Clinic. This self described "jazz/funk/prog" band have made a couple of songs from their upcoming album, Vampire Kiss, available for free download!

Here's my video I've just uploaded of me jamming over this awesome slap bass line, transcription of the main riffs from the tune are available to download from my transcriptions page.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Lick Of The Month #6

LOTM#6 is actually a bit of a mashup between a lick that of my own that I've been working on this month with an ending of Cannonball Adderley's.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Practising Melodies

An essential weapon in your arsenal as a bassist is the ability to play a melody as well as any trumpeter or pianist can. To play it with feeling and emotion, in the most beautiful way that you can. As a bassist this opportunity probably won't come along very often but when it does you need to be ready for it. The other benefit of this is that it will positively affect the way that you solo by bringing a more melodic and passionate version of what you could have played out of your instrument.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Claypool's bass sells for $50,599.99!!

Primus front man and all round legend has just auctioned his Pachyderm Prototype bass with a winning bid of a whopping $50,599.99 (or around £31,500). This was all for a very good cause as Les was raising money for his nephew who has been diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia. 

"Watching my younger brother and his wife go through one of the most heart aching situations that any parent can endure has been gut-wrenching," Claypool said. "On top of that there is the unbelievable expense of the treatments ($80,000 for one particular shot alone and Matthew needed two of them). I do what I can financially, and the fellows in Primus have been very generous to do performances as well as create special merchandise items for Matthew's cause, but unfortunately we are just pushing against a tide of debt that my brother will be dealing with for many years." 

The bass itself was built by Dan Maloney and (according to the eBay advert) designed by Les Claypool to be the most comfortable and easy to play four string bass to his standards.  This particular bass has a walnut top with a maple back and exotic wood pick guard.  It is 32” scale with LED lights in the side of the fingerboard and has a Kahler brand tremolo bar.  Keeping the electronics simple, Les equips his basses with one single custom split EMG pickup with a single control knob.  It has a bronze Pachyderm medallion set into the headstock. This combination of woods and electronics gives this particular bass a warm but punchy attack with a medium finish.  These basses are light and extremely comfortable in the lap as well as on strap.

It's good to see so much money going to such a good cause, as well as such an amazing bass going to a good home!!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Parker's Mood Bass Line

Sticking with my jazz blues studies this month I've transcribed the bass line under Bird's solo on the great tune, 'Parker's Mood'. There's a lot that I've learnt from looking at this bass line, most importantly the simplicity of a good bass line!

The first thing that I noticed about this line is that out of the 24 bars (2 full choruses of 12 bars) 22 of these bars start on the root note

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Lick Of The Month #5

Hey everyone! This month's lick is another walking bass lick and is one I've pulled out of my transcription for the bass line on Charlie Parker's 'Now's The Time' available here!

Below is the video for the full transcription but you can hear this month's lick at 10 seconds and again at 32 seconds.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

First Stadium Gig!

A bit of a departure from jazz theory for today's post... Just to let everyone know I've just played my first stadium yippeee!!!!

Friday, 28 September 2012

The Dave Liebman Approach

I recently found Dave Liebman's website which has got a great article on how to get the most from the transcription process. It goes into great detail on how to really get into a solo once you've transcribed it. 

I've applied this approach to a Hank Jones lick, rather than a whole solo. The sheet music for these examples are below although I highly recommend doing this whole process yourself and just use anything from this post or from Dave's site as a starting point as the real benefit comes from when you've put the hours in yourself.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Lick Of The Month #4

September's Lick Of The Month is one of Cannonball Adderley's from Freddie Freeloader. I chose this lick as I love the way he approaches the change from the last Ab7 of the tune back to the first Bb7. Here's the lick, skip to 7:25 to hear it.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Double Thumbing Dojo

A student of mine recently asked for some help with double thumbing and as this is a pretty major point of interest across bassists I thought I'd post my lesson up here! This isn't an area I've spent a lot of time working on but I've gotten the foundations down pretty well.

If you're new to double thumbing then I'd say start here with these basic exercises which are designed to make sure you've got the basic technique down. Practice these as slowly as you can bare and if you're not getting a good clean tone on the down AND the up stroke then stick with it before you move onto anything quicker.

The two grooves I've written are based around constant 16th note patterns which need you to keep your thumb going while using your left hand to mute the beats being played as dead notes.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Lick of the month #3

Welcome to LOTM number 3! This months lick is a 2 for 1 special using some nice ideas I've pulled from a transcription of 'Goodbye Pork Pie Hat' I was working on but shamefully got defeated by! There are some monstrously quick runs in this solo which I'll hopefully finish off one day when my ears catch up with the sax shredding on display. But waste not, want not, here's some of the licks I did manage to get my chops onto.

I've wrote these licks up to work over an Eb blues. The first bar starts around the 9th and then descends an Eb- arpeggio. The second bar is based around F# major, the relative major of Eb-. The G that sets off the second lick is a major 3rd  of Eb- which gives us a nice bit of tension before resolving the lick on an F#, the minor 3rd.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Another Way To Look At Autumn Leaves

Carrying on with Autumn Leaves, have a listen to this version by The Bill Evans Trio.

LaFaro takes a completely different approach to the Sam Jones line I looked at last month. Where as Jones seemed to take each chord and walk through it in quite a traditional approach, LaFaro treats pretty much the whole first chorus as one big C-, playing almost exclusively straight up and down the C Dorian mode. He does break out of this occasionally and outlines the chords a little more but in a more broken approach than Jones took. 

One example of this is over the same ii V I we used in the last post. 
Over the C- LaFaro plays R 3 5 R, goes back to C Dorian over the F7 and then plays 3 7 5 R for the BbM.

So there we have a very quick look at another way to approach the changes in this tune, it's not something I'd thought of doing before and I'm definitely going to be spending some time experimenting with this way of approaching bass lines. 

Click here to download the PDF, which on a side note I have now started uploading as PDF's as quite a few people were having trouble opening the XPS files. Enjoy!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Lick of the month #2

Our second LOTM is another ii V i from Autumn Leaves, but this time it's a minor ii V from the bassist, Sam Jones.

This is a great lick with some simple but effective tricks in it. Here it is in the original key and then in two more keys, moving through the cycle. This lick should be practised in all keys even though I've only wrote it out in the first three!

The opening bar plays root, natural 9, 3, root. The natural 9 is used as a tension note between the root and the third as it is out of the key but still fits quite nicely. The second bar starts on a chromatic run down to the root, practise this as it is a great way to get out of the habit of jumping straight onto the root for beat 1! The last beat in this bar is a chromatic note leading to the root of the i chord. This lick is finished off with a simple R 3 5 3 arpeggio which helps to reinforce the harmony of the chord sequence after a bar of almost all chromatic notes.

As you can see from the example above, you may have to tweak these licks to take them through all 12 keys but the ideas are still the same - the A-7 arpeggio in the final example is ascending rather than descending.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Autumn Leaves Bass Transcription

Continuing the Miles Davis theme, here's a transcription of Sam Jones' bass line under Miles' solo on Autumn Leaves! This tune is full of ii V I's (4 majors and 5 minors per chorus!) which makes it a valuable tune to have some proficiency on. Next month I will be transcribing the full Miles solo that fits over this bass line to see how the two work together.

This is the first walking bass line I've transcribed and there where a couple of things in particular that I wanted to see how Jones approached; how he tackled two chords per bar, which crops up at the end of each chorus. And also his note choice on the C9. The C9 appears in bars 27-28 and 59-60. Both times this comes around Jones plays the same phrase, I would guess that this is to help the listener's ear become accustomed to where the end of each chorus is coming up. When I play over this section of the song I tend to get a very boxy and obvious bass line coming out as I play R - 5 or R - 3, something like that. Jones does start with R - 5 for the G-7, but then doesn't play another root until bar 31/62! The notes Jones chooses for the C9 are the 7th and 9th which help outline the harmony.

As you may expect what I got from this transcription was a whole lot more! There is so much even from the two choruses I have gone through that I won't be able to highlight every example but I'll go through some of my favourite moments.

The first thing that I noticed about this bass line is the use of very simple ideas, it most definitely makes me realize the art of not over playing, filling the role of a bass player and supporting the soloists. A great example of this comes in bar 24 over the Eb major.

I often feel that while I'm walking it's a crime to go back and play the note I've just played for fear of sounding boring, Jones proves this isn't the case again on bar 41 playing C octaves over a C-7. Again on the Am7b5, Jones plays R R b5 R, clearly outlining the overall harmony on that bar.

Continuing from Jones' simple ideas, I was also quite surprised at the amount of standard arpeggios I found. Pretty much every time the double bar of G-7 comes around he will play up and down the G- arpeggio, the same thing happens when the BbM7 EbM7 come around.

Another feature that really stood out to me was the shape of the line being played. You can clearly see from the example below without even needing to play the line how much it flows. This is pretty much a constant feature through the song, as well as through most jazz bass lines! This smoothness is definitely something to strive for when creating your own line.

The final point to make with this is his use of chromatic notes to lead you into the next bar. This is something that has been heavily covered in online lessons but when you play through this transcription you will see why! 
Two examples of this stood out to me in this transcription, the first in bar 46 where Jones plays a chromatic leading note on beat 3 and 4 instead of just 4. The second was in bar 54 where Jones plays an E natural over the F7, the third of the chord, but he uses this as a passing note to a Bb (5) on beat 1 of the next chord, EbM7. This example is below and also doubles up as a nice ii V I to learn.

For more on this specifically visit Scott Devine's website and look for his lessons on beginning walking lines.

Full transcription available here!

And here's the video :)

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Lick of the month #1

Welcome to the first ever 'Lick of the month'! I'm going to be adding a new lick to my blog every month (as the name suggests...) starting today! This months lick is a ii V I in Bb major. It was played by Miles Davis on 'Autumn Leaves ' from the brilliant album 'Somethin' Else'. 

From a functional point of view I like to know where any licks I'm playing start in relation to the root of the first chord, in this case C minor. The starting note is an F which is the 4th of C minor, or the fret below C! Having this reference point helps me to get the lick out when I need it!

The opening bar Davis is playing up the C Dorian scale ending on an F which could be seen as an 11th but I feel that the way the notes are phrased he is bringing the F7 in a beat early, the same way he did in his solo on So What. He rounds this off by landing on the root of the I chord. 

Another nice feature of this lick is the placement of chord tones. In the first bar leaving an 8th beat rest shifts the Eb (3rd) and G (5th) onto beats 2 and 4, which I think gives it a syncopated feel compared to the straight second bar.

On the video I play the lick at 110 bpm, which is pretty much the original speed. A slowed down version at 80bpm and a faster one at 160bpm. It's always good practice to play any new licks at different tempos as well as taking them through all 12 keys.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Bass Effects

A lot of bassists use effects but not always to good effect! Flea, is not one of these players. I've just uploaded a video of my cover of 'Around The World' where I have tried to get my tones as close to Flea's as I can, check out the photos below to see the settings I used. The Boss ODB3 is my favourite overdrive/distortion pedal , it's not too difficult to control the feedback which has been an issue with a lot of the pedals I've tried, it also works very well used to fatten up any synth sounds you're using. This was used for the intro riff and the SansAmp for the rest of the tune.

More videos on effects coming soon but in the mean time get some more of Flea's tasty effecting, check out the wah solo in Coffee Shop.

Monday, 21 May 2012

So What

If you've ever struggled to play over a modal chord progression then learning this Miles Davis solo is a must!

Davis tends to stick to the Dorian mode for the majority of his solo, as you would expect, although he occasionally uses a C major triad instead. (bars 35 - 40) One interesting use of this is in bar 57 where he uses the C major triad on the end of an Eb-7 section, essentially bringing in the D-7 a bar early. 

In bars 41-44 Davis plays a few licks taken from the Blues Scale, I especially like his quick use of the flat 5 coming back down to the root.

At the end of a 3 bar long Eb Dorian run, Davis uses some chromatic notes (bar 25) leading back into the D-7. Although these notes are not in Eb-7, they are all notes from the D-7.

G = 4th of D-
A = 5th of D-
D = Root of D-

Another tool Davis uses is the repetition of a simple melodic idea, starting on bar 3, he develops a short melody from the Dorian mode. This melody makes an appearance again at bars 46 - 47 as well as closing the solo at bar 65. This helps to give his solo a sense of continuity and structure.

Click the here for the full transcription, this solo is packed with licks that can be adapted for use in your own improvisations, another favourite is the Eb Dorian run in thirds, bars 53 - 56! There's just too many to list here, so grab the transcription and dig in!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

She Loves You Transcription

This is a classic song from The Beatles which I will be playing at the weekend, with Friends Of The Bride, for the happy couples first dance. The full transcription is available for download here. If you're playing along with the original it seems to be slightly flatter than standard tuning so don't worry if you're sounding a bit out!

The form for this song is about as straight forward as it gets, with each section lasting a very unoffensive 8 bars and Sir Paul keeps the bass relatively simple playing root notes and fifths with the occasional passing note and one or two 8th note runs.

The main point of interest for me in this song was the one bar of syncopation after the 'She Loves You' refrain, bar 18 (bar 1 in the example below). Here McCartney shifts the accent from beats 1 and 3 where it stays for most of the song to beat 1 and  the 'and' of beat 2, before quickly jumping back in to the regular beat 1 and 3 accents.

A very effective yet simple technique that's well worth practicing. Nicely done Sir! 

Sunday, 6 May 2012

SoundCloud Update

I've uploaded a new track to my SoundCloud, it's a solo bass recorded over one of Scott Devine's backing tracks. It's using major pentatonics over a minor key which is covered in one of Scott's most recent lessons. If you haven't already been watching his youtube lessons then do so right now! One of the best sources of free lessons I've come across. Get started here!

Here's the track

Blue Bossa by mattlawton

Monday, 30 April 2012

Maiden Voyage Transcription

If, like me, you struggle finding interesting ideas soloing over static chords then take a look at my transcription from the first chorus of Herbie Hancock's 'Maiden Voyage'. It's packed with licks to get around static chords, check out the transcription here. Following on the same theme I'm working on Miles' solo from the classic 'So What'. Should be up next week, videos to follow!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

New Gear!

I've just picked up a second hand Alesis io|2 and have knocked up a quick little tune just to get to grips with it (and Reaper!) Anyways I think it turned turned out ok, the songs pretty uninspired but it's served it's purpose. Here's the tune if you wanna have a listen though!

Be-Hop by mattlawton

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Dexter Gordon's minor ii V i lick

Everyone needs a good minor ii V i lick, and here's one I pulled out of Dexter Gordon's solo on Blue Bossa, which can be heard on 'Biting the Apple'

Anyway, here's the lick! 
Things to look out for... 
     1. The odd timing he starts the lick on.
     2. The note choice for each chord: D-7b5 = F- (or a minor third up from D-7b5)
                                                                G7 = G Altered
                                                                C-7 = C Harmonic Minor (which is the usual scale choice for the i chord, but look out for his extra juicy sounding natural 7 on the first beat of bar 4.

Here's a video of my playing the first 2 chorus' of the solo. The lick in question appears at 0:31. For full transcription click here!