New (Old) Stuff

I’ve recently been going over some of the older transcriptions in the archive to see if there’s anything that my ears missed when I first started writing things out in 2007. I’d hoped that in the last 8 years my transcription skills might have improved slightly, and I was strangely relieved to find plenty of mistakes to rectify…

1. ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay’ – Otis Redding

On closer listening I realised that not all of Duck Dunn’s approach note lines during the verses are the same, and he likes to play around with the note lengths at the end of phrases.

I made a play along video for this but Warner Music Group won’t allow it to be viewed on YouTube due to copyright restictions. Oh well.

2. ‘I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)’ – Michael McDonald

Sharp-eared subscriber Peter Weil got in touch to let me know that I’d missed some of the finer details of the (late) great Louis Johnson’s line. I found this one particularly tricky to accurately catch all of the subtle variations, so many thanks to Peter for pointing out the missing pieces!

YouTube Play Along:

3. ‘Runaway’ – Jamiroquai

Having recently covered this in ‘Groove Of The Week’ I thought it could do with a tidy-up. The main improvement has been notating more of Paul Turner’s fills during the second chorus.

‘Behind The Scenes’ In The Studio, Circa 2012

While sorting through my ancient transcriptions I found some footage shot by a producer from a studio session I did for Jamie Abbott back in 2012. The video shows us tracking an acoustic version of Jamie’s song ‘Light Love’ – my trusty P-bass was strung with nylon tapewounds at this point. All the harmonic stuff comes from too much time listening to Jaco on Joni Mitchell’s ‘Coyote’, apologies for the bass faces.

Some new (new) transcriptions are on the way, honest.

Groove Of The Week #21: Maxwell – ‘Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)’

This edition of Groove Of The Week focuses on the power of simplicity. The bassline that anchors Maxwell’s smooth soul ballad ‘Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)’ contains only 5 different pitches and is largely played on a single string, yet it still provides the song with a powerful hook.



Jonathan Maron has already been featured in the Groove Of The Week series, but his smooth groove on ‘Ascension’ stands in stark contrast to his busy 16th note line that propels Groove Collective’s ‘Everything Is Changing’:

GOTW Ascension Don t Ever Wonder copy

Playing the line on a single string rather than staying in one position keeps things sounding even, as we don’t encounter the tonal change that occurs when changing between strings. As always, pay close attention to the grace notes and staccato markings in the transcription as these will help to keep the line smooth and swinging.

Groove Of The Week #17: Omar – ‘There’s Nothing Like This’

Apologies for the serious time lag between posts – the last fortnight involved moving house and a series of gigs that included learning an entire set of Wayne Shorter tunes at short notice.

Anyway, time to clear the Groove Of The Week backlog. This one comes courtesy of British soul singer Omar (who also played most of the instruments on the track, including the standout bass line). ‘There’s Nothing Like This’ remains the best example that I’ve ever heard of how to convert something as mundane as a major 7 arpeggio into a musical idea that really grooves.



Omar - There's Nothing Like This

Omar recently re-recorded this classic track, and who played bass? None other than Pino Palladino:


Groove Of The Week #15: Led Zeppelin – ‘Ramble On’

This week’s groove comes courtesy of the great British bassist John Paul Jones, whose part on Led Zeppelin’s ‘Ramble On’ provides a masterclass in writing a part that manages to be melodic without diverting attention away from the rest of the band:



JPJ’s high register line sits firmly in the key of E major, using slides and ghost notes to embellish his part. He varies the part slightly on each repetition, but the basic groove is shown here:

Led Zep - Ramble On


You can check out the original isolated bass part of ‘Ramble On’ below – hearing JPJ’s playing in isolation really demonstrates the huge influence of Motown and Stax recordings:




His tone is very Jamerson-esque, and the verse groove to ‘Ramble On’ reminds me of pioneering soul bassist Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn’s part on Eddie Floyd’s ‘Knock On Wood’, which was recorded 3 years before ‘Ramble On’:




Wherever JPJ got the inspiration, his bass work on ‘Ramble On’ (and many other Led Zep songs) gives us a wealth of material for study when it comes to supportive yet melodic bass playing.

Groove Of The Week #14: Deee-Lite’s ‘Groove Is In The Heart’

Deee-Lite’s one and only hit ‘Groove Is In The Heart’ was propelled by the infectious bassline provided by none other than William ‘Bootsy’ Collins who, thanks to his time with James Brown and Parliament-Funkadelic, has no shortage of experience in laying down a consistent, propulsive groove.



The line sits nicely in position, using chord tones and the odd chromatic approach to outline the Ab7-Db7 harmony (the classic chord I to chord IV move found in countless funk, rock, soul and pop tunes):

Deee-Lite- Groove Is In The Heart copy

Groove Of The Week #13: Incubus -‘Are You In?’

This week’s laid back swung 16th groove comes courtesy of one of my teenage bass heroes, Dirk Lance. Incubus first caught my attention when I heard Make Yourself and totally freaked out – at the age of 15 I’d never heard anything quite like it before. The follow-up album, Morning View, remains one of my favourites – recently I’ve been spent a lot of time in the car driving to and from gigs and I’ve been working my way through Incubus’ back catalogue, one of the grooves that stuck out was Dirk’s part on ‘Are You In?’:



The key to this groove is to relax! Be sure to listen to the original to really get a handle on the 16th note swing feel.

Incubus - Are You In?

Groove Of The Week #12: Muse – ‘Hysteria’

Apologies that this post is somewhat late, things have been rather manic lately. Anyway, here’s last week’s Groove Of The Week video, which features Chris Wolstenholme’s amazing pedal point riff on Muse’s ‘Hysteria’.


This line is tricky for a number of reasons, particularly getting the balance between fretted notes and open strings. Once you’ve got everything even at a low tempo it’s just a case of bringing the speed up and playing it consistently for 4 minutes… Good Luck!

There’s a full note-for-note transcription of the verse and chorus parts here:

Muse – ‘Hysteria’ Bass Transcription