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Portrait of Tracy

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by whiteshadow, Mar 7, 2004.

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  1. whiteshadow


    Jul 3, 2001
    This might be in the wrong forum, and if that's true, I'm sorry, but here goes. When did you decide to conquer the song Portrait of Tracy, or better yet, when in your progression as a musician feel capable of taking on that song? Thanks a lot.
  2. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I learned it about 2 years ago, I had been playing bass for a 3 years at the time and I had never heard jaco, I finally got a hold of his debut and got to hear the infamous portrait of tracy(which I had heard about but never actually heard) When I first heard it I was pretty blown away, I Immediately tried to figure it out, and after poking around with all the natural harmonics, once I started to feel comfortable with them that is, I sat down and pounded it out. It didn't take too long at all too figure out the song, but the last harmonic chord eluded me for quite sometime, I posted here in frustration a couple times about it, and even when I learned what the notes were, It was still difficult to play, but I eventually got it under my fingers, and feel very comfortable with the song. It's a great tune to learn because it really opens up the possibilities of natural harmonics, I think that was the single most important song I've learned to improve my harmonic technique.

    My guitarist buddy learned how to play it on guitar, which is pretty neat, seeing as how natural harmonics take a lot more finesse to sound out on a guitar, particularly those inbetween fret subdivisions. But Guitars have it easy on that final chord, since the top two strings have two of the notes used available as natural harmonics.
  3. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    What I'd do first is figure out harmonics just like you would figure out notes on the fingerboard, make it so that you could use harmonics in everyday conversation. Try playing a couple scales and arpeggios with harmonics naming each note and scale degree as you play them.
  4. dave_clark69

    dave_clark69 Guest

    Jan 17, 2003
    I have just learnt the main introduction to it. i have been playing for about 18 months. the hardest thing that i find is getting the weird little harmonics that are just past the fret, right on target. Also the little fret 2 harmonic on 6th thing was a bit tricky. Hee hee i kept playing the wrong string-i just wasnt used to that technique
  5. I suggest you watch Modern Electric Bass : Jaco Pastorius....he plays "remebering tracey" which as the title suggests he is trying to remeber how to play it...it should help you work out the right technique to use for each section...like the faster section thumb hitting the bass note on the E string and fingers playing the harmonics and the D/G strings
  6. zilla04


    Feb 11, 2000
    I started applying this song to piano yesterday.... Man! It sounds really neat. I can't wait to get it all the way.

    I heard about 15 seconds of that song and made up my mind to but that album that instant. Got it home, figured out the first three harmonics........ got the tab the next week. Learned it, and after aboot 5 months I've got it down.

    Learning that song definatly improved my style.
  7. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    tab... :meh:
  8. zilla04


    Feb 11, 2000
    Yea, tab.... So what?!!? It is a very good way to learn some thing. Yes.... I know that Standard notation is good. But it's not better by any means. It has it's advantages that tabs don't and vice versa.

  9. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    You could not be more wrong, but you'll discover that on your own.
  10. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    So good it deserves to be said twice!
  11. :D Yeah he was shall we say having a seniors moment, or sauced off his coconut, one or both.
  12. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    i started playing at 14 and i learned all the requisite jaco stuff (portrait,teen town,donna lee,amerika etc) at 15 and 16. the best move i ever made as a musician was forgetting all of that stuff.
  13. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Good call, I recently forgot donna lee myself. :)
  14. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Well I've never really seriously attempted to play Portrait of Tracy - I like to think that is out of respect, but I'm intimidated is closer to the truth. About 2 years into my playing career I learned how to sound harmonics and I developed a Tracy-esque little riff played with harmonics that went into a groove that sounded like the intro and first part of Portrait of Tracy (to me - although I hadn't listened to Jaco in several months at that time) …it's kind of a hack version of Portrait and kind of something different entirely. I call it Portrait of Trudy ('cause growing up, she was my favorite Facts of Life girl…)
  15. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I constantly preach about musicianship over showmanship, as many, I believe, have a hard time making the distinction. That being said, as a gigging musician I've never seen anything terribly wrong with having a tune or two simply to please the audience, as PoT invariably does. I learned it from a chart, and have found that it's an enjoyable piece to play.

    I won't even touch that tabs thing.
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Actually it was the other way round - so this was a rare few days in this period of his life, where he was actually sober! So the video makers had paid for him to stay in a hotel for a few days beforehand to get sober and "together" - but he still struggles with PoT on the video. :(

    Not suprising though, as he had only just been released from a mental hospital....:meh:

    I'm surprised at how much energy and character shines through there - considering what he had been through... :(
  17. yeh bruce, he seemed a bit "vauge" at times. I noticed at the end of the video when he wacks the distortion on then goes left field, thats when the wheels started falling off the shopping cart, so to speak. An intresting man though.
  18. zilla04


    Feb 11, 2000

    Are you telling my that Tablature has absolutely no significance in the world of music? That they are basically good for nothing? That standard notation is the only way that music should be read.... because it is the Traditional way of writting and reading music?!!?

    I do not get your position and would very much like for to to try to justify your opinion.
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yup - agree with that - and my only justification would be to add :

    Tablature has absolutely no significance in the world of [serious,professional }music?
  20. zilla04


    Feb 11, 2000

    I can't tell you how much tabs have helped me to learn to play Bass. If they wouldn't have been available to me I'd be so far behind in my playing right now that it's not funny.

    Don't get me wrong. Staff music is DEFINATLY the way to go if you are to be a professional musician.... because it is the "standard" for all musical instruments. BUT, You CAN NOT deny the positive effects that it has had on the Guitar & Bass community. It has help WAY too many young aspiring musicians to learn their instrument for it to be denounced by traditionalists such as yourself.

    Remember when traditional people fought against "modern" ways? :rolleyes: :smug: ;) :D

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