Songs that contain a lot of thoery?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by RicPlaya, Nov 26, 2003.

  1. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    My bass instructor had a great idea, he said why don't you bring in some songs and we can break them down to show the theory contained within the song and see how the artist is appying it. I was thinking of some Beatles tunes and stuff like that. Without getting into Weather Report, and very high end technical artists is there any songs that anyone out there would recommend, and the thoery that is contained within the song? Thanks
  2. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    Theory is contained within any song.
  3. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Of course, but what songs contain a wide variety of examples of thoery? If I learned that song I would see the artist applying several different things, some songs are better at this than others. Any ideas? I know all songs contain thoery some just have more and better examples of it.
  4. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Bring in blues music. Much of it is based on the classic twelve bar blues pattern. So is much jazz, but blues will be simpler to analyze for a beginner. You will get a very important intro to twelve bar blues and to I, IV, V chord progressions. It will be a good exercise analyzing intros, if there are any, the actual chord progression and turnarounds.

    Other theory the blues song you select will include determining the key,including deciding if the key is major or minor. Also, you might as well try to determine the tempo and the time signature. You might also attempt transcribing the song.

    Other theory studies within that same song are deciding what notes the bass player chose for each chord and why he may have chosen those notes and not others.

    You can also take each chord and learn what notes they contain, what scales they come from, what arpeggios you can make from them and even what modes are related to them. You can decide if the bassist is playing major or minor pentatonic scales, blues scales or what other plan of attack he used. You can learn the formula for each chord and learn how to play such chords on your bass and at various positions on your bass.

    You may learn that the blues bass line was a shuffle or played as straight eighths or played as a walking line. All that will be infinitely useful to you as well. For technique, so if the bassist mutes or plays with a pick. See if he uses slides, or hammer ons, etc. But that is technique, not theory. But anyway, you can spend loads of time tearing apart the structure of even the simplest song and learn an encyclopedia of theory that way.

    So you see, there is an infinite amount of theory yoy can extract from even the simplest blues songs.

    For an example of a song that will serve very well, try Jimi Hendrix' "Red House" or his version of the Booker T. Jones song, "Born Under a Bad Sign." Another interesting one is "Roadhouse Blues" as done by Jim Morrison and The Doors. Though The Doors usually did not have a bassist, Lonnie Mack did play bass on this particular song.

    Good luck. Let us know what song you did choose and how much it was able to teach you.
  5. hernan


    Apr 10, 2003
    almagro, argentina
    RIC, i am newbie and i an searching almost the same than you....

    Regarding blues theory....dont forget to take a look at Deep Purple classic 'Lazy'.....there you will find (bar-by-bar):

    12 bar blues in 3 different keys (Fm Gm Am)
    2 modulations (from Fm to Gm and Gm to Am)
    tons of turnaround
    blues harmony at hard rock speed :bassist:
    pentatonic, blues, dorian, ionian scales
    more and more....

    It is a wonderfull song to listen to

    Good luck
  6. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    As I recall, that list of covers you posted a while back was diverse enough to start with.

    I'd suggest you stick to styles of music and specific songs you already know well when you're starting to analyze. That way, you're only dealing with the analysis and not trying to learn a new genre at the same time.
  7. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Sweet Thanks! That's perfect, you even broke down what's there to learn.
  8. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Hey Thrash,

    I think I'll be O.K. I'm into the older rock more anyway and there is a lot of jazz and blues foundation already in there. Those are just covers I listed my band does mind you not one song is picked because of bass content, they are not very challenging and mostly root note stuff.
  9. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Rhythm changes. Try "Oleo", Miles Davis.

    I won't get into the "a lot of theory" part, I'll just say that analyzing rhythm changes will give you enough material for a thousand doctorates.
  10. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Sonny Rollins wrote it though ;)

  11. i second that. the first full cd i learned was machine head by deep purple, lazy was the final one i perfected, mainly because in those days, i didn't have the patience to play an 8 minute song!! i will say though, the other songs are easy enough to learn quickly and sound cool enough that you don't think you are wasting your time practicing easy songs!
    Good Luck,
  12. amorosomolto


    Sep 10, 2003
    Dream Theater!
    (Scenes from a memory, Six Degrees of inner turbulence, Train of thougt, Change of seasons)
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    So - your title says a lot of theory...?

    One of the most interesting Jazz tunes I studied was Lee Konitz's : "Thingin'" .

    It was interesting from the point of of view of "Re-harmonising" an existing Jazz standard and adding in more key changes and unexpected "twists".

    So - it starts out like a familiar Jazz standard, but Konitz seems to be "tricking" any listener by going to unexpected places - almost like a musical theory joke!! ;)
  14. Slot


    Oct 17, 2003
    Sydney - The Shire
    Hey ric, do yourself a favour and buy the book "standing in the shadows of motown"

    Its a catalogue of alot of James Jamerson's basslines throughout his career with motown records.

    There is some unbelievable basslines in their, and its also a great sight reading tool. Those songs are about as hard as it gets in the sight reading department(in stock standard gigging situations), its a great resource.

    Get it man ....Its a sin not to own it. Every bassplayer should have a copy.
  15. theautarch


    Mar 18, 2003
    wrap your brain around some zappa logic...heh
  16. BustinJustin

    BustinJustin banned

    Sep 12, 2003
    NYC, LI too
    dont hurt me....


    "you enjoy myself" off of "junta" 1st album

    actually the whole album is great!

    sorry guys:meh:
  17. flacko


    Dec 6, 2001
    Surrey , UK
    For songs that contain a lot of interesting exercises in playing on various beats of the bar you could do worse than try some of Sting's bass lines. For example "Roxanne", "Every little thing she does is magic" and "Message in a bottle" contain some real fun in playing a mix of syncopated and on the beat rhythms.

    I once read 90% of bass playing is what your right hand is doing and I happen to believe this (certainly for rock/blues/pop).

    Getting into the above certainly helped my sense of placing notes on different beats of the bar.

    He also does stuff in 5/4 on later albums (a track called "seven sons" or something like it) that is good for a workout.

    Beatles ? - Day tripper is a great riff to double with a guitar but how much theory it contains I'm uncertain

  18. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    This is awesome! Keep em comming...
  19. The Police song in 5/4 that you were refering to is called "Seven Days"; i cant remember right now what album its from. Any material by The Police/Sting is great stuff to learn. He employs a wide variety of timing and rythym, and hes an overall great songwriter. Another good example is "Love is Stronger Than Justice" (also cant quite remember the album) which has a verse in 7 and more country-feel chorus in 4.

    Sting has always been a favorite of mine for using great, often simple yet straight to the core solid bass playing- also probably the best example of a bass player with great singing abilities. I enjoy his voice as much as his playing. :bassist: