Can you play Sir Duke?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by MarkMcCombs, Jul 16, 2003.

  1. I think if you can play this tune, in time, then you are in the top 5% of bass players. It's my goal to someday be able to do this, but I'm miles away. How 'bout you, can you play it? Do you have any suggestions for a sucky player such as myself mastering it?


    H K likes this.
  2. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    When you say can I play it, do you mean can I play the whole tune, exactly as Nathan Watts did, or are you really talking about the unison riff?
  3. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    I learned it by ear and then transcribed it recently for a gig in a couple of weeks.Really not that hard,the unison riff takes a little practice,what a fun tune to play,such a grroovy bassline.A study in functional bass-playing:cool:
  4. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Musically, the unison riff itself is pretty simple (but absolutely great!) - just a B Pentatonic with the odd minor 3rd passing note.

    Tricky to play though :D

    I actually think that Sir Duke is one of the best examples of a great, positive, upbeat pop song ever. It's very catchy, and a great song (the two don't necessarily go together!). I think Stevie really nailed it on this one. A good example of Jazz sneaking its way into pop very successfully.

    And it still gets everyone up to dance. One a gig I did a little while back, in between our sets, one of the songs the DJ played was Sir Duke, and suddenly everyone was dancing and singing along.
  5. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I think it's great, a little too bubblegum - but that's Stevie Wonder...
  6. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    Oh c'mon,you've got to be kidding.Pop music did'nt get ant better than this.Real cats playing real music.:bassist:
  7. ColonelZulu

    ColonelZulu Not Impressed By Those Who Flaunt “Authority” Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    IMO, learning to play any song (Sir Duke, YYZ, Maxwell Murder, You Can't Hold No Groove, Sleepless, Donna Lee, Bonin' in the Boneyard) doesn't make you good.

    Anyone can memorize the notes in a pattern and, through repetition, be able to perform those movements...and still suck as a bass player.

    When you're able to hear any song like that, and can figure out what's going on, then do it with some hours of practice, and eventually play it in the pocket...I think you may be in the top 15%.

    When you can make up lines similar to those, and use them in songs where appropriate, then you're getting in the top 10%.

    When you are able to come up with challenging solo pieces, implementing some of all techniques, even creating some of your own technique, then you're in the top 5%.

    When you have the ability to do all those things, but are able to understand that a simple line of whole and half notes contributes more to a song than muddying up the tune in order to show off you chops...then I'll say you're in the top <1%.

    That should never stop anyone from trying to learn cool lines...being able to play impressive licks does inspire one to continue to learn.

    Yes I can play Sir Duke, but playing something like Runnin' with the Devil is where I have to be more careful.
  8. I guess I should have clarified....if you can play the song, especially the unison riff, in exact unison with the other players, and have it sound and feel as it does on the recording, then I think you're a good bass player. I'm not sure that I would agree that figuring the lines out and memorizing them, and playing them in the pocket requires anything less than immense skill. I am not initiating a debate in songwriting, improvisation, or the like; only playing of the instrument in a song that's already written.

    Which brings me to a tangent point.....I don't think that playing covers, esp. well known covers, takes anything away from one's skill as a musician. Fact is, everyone who hears you play that well-known song knows what it SHOULD sound like, whether or not the artist who recorded the song can make it sound that way live. This, friends, is the sad reality that cover bands have to always deal with, and not many people understand.

    Anyway, if you can play it, you have my respect and admiration.....

  9. garron


    Jun 26, 2003
    DC area
    I think Sir Duke is a great song to expand your chops with!

    Its got a great groove, & a nice unison riff for the band to show off a little bit. If you can play it solidly and, and keep a steady groove in general, then you should have no problems finding work.

    well said :D ;)
  10. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    It takes alot of skill to do it right.Experience,a good ear and patience.
    It's players that can't do it that shoot it down.

    Keep working on Sir Duke Mark,try the unison part at 1/2 speed and work it up,you'll get it!!:)
  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I think "Contusion" from Songs In The Key Of Life(same album as "Sir Duke") more difficult.

    Is there a specific section of the unison line that is proving 'difficult'?
    How 'bout your fingering? Do you have the most 'economical' thing happenin'?
    If I'm outta line...just tell me to "Go blow".
  12. the unison part of sir duke is tricky in terms of the range it covers- some position shifting needed on a 4string.

    a good case for getting a 6...
  13. you'er not out of line at all. Thanks for the encouragement, everyone. I need to get my Slowgold software working so I can slow it down a bit.

  14. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    I would'nt even bother with the software to slow it down,get a transcription,there must be some on the net,and just work on getting the right notes under your fingers,OUT of time.Once you do that work on playing it IN time at 1/2 speed.You can't practice something in time if you're struggling to find the notes.
    And the line sits very well on a 4 string,it's not that hard.
  15. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I've played (and recorded) that tune in the past. I didn't think it was particularly difficult, and I'm a stickler for articulating in unison with horn players...

  16. this shows the extent of the position shifts quite well-
    but strange how the 2 B notes at the start of the unison section are played 2nd fret A string then 7th fret E string.

    the phrase ending on the 14th fret of the A string feels odd- more natural to play it up a string.

    BTW the 0 on the G string should be 8.

    Bass Guitar Magazine tabbed it out in their first issue, I'll have to dig that out to compare.
  17. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    Didn't pay any attention to the tab. :)
  18. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    IMO, you don't need any transcription software and you don't need any transcriptions to work out that unison riff!

    It really is up and down a B Pent with the odd minor 3rd passing note.
  19. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    First off-
    That sheet music doesn't look "right" to me; that could be me, though...I think I would notate the somewhat staccato feel with 1/16th rests combined with 1/16th notes(i.e. a 1/16th niote feel vs. the 1/8th note feel).
    The TAB looked way outta line.
    It's still early here & I haven't poured a 2nd cup coffee in my body yet. Maybe it's me playing the line an octave lower than the recording?
    Trust me, it has been a while!

    Mock The Hoople-
    IMO, the "B" should be played @the 2nd fret/"A"-string.
    Personally, the trickiest section for me to get happenin' occurs right after the HIGH G#-D#-F#-C#...after trying different fingerings/shifts(like going back DOWN the neck in a typical pentatonic way)...
    I have found starting with my index finger @the 6th fret/"G"-string-
    then pinky @the 9th fret/"D"-string-
    then middle finger @the 7th fret/"D"-string-
    then pinky @the 9th fret/"A"
    then middle finger @the 7th fret/"A"