Suggestions for learning from songs?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by BaileyMan, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. BaileyMan

    BaileyMan Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    San Francisco
    I've got a couple questions, maybe they've been addressed in other posts, if so, I'd be happy to be directed to them.

    I'm wanting to learn the bass line, note for note, in Van Morrison's, "Who Drove The Red Sports Car", specifically the "Alternate Take" on Blowin' Your Mind. The bass in it is fantastic and stays interesting even though it's pretty much only G, B and C through the whole song (G and C only during the Chorus). The bass player plays mostly roots, but has some great fills and that's what I want to focus on, the fills. I want improve my lines for simple 2 or 4 chord singer songwriter type of stuff, providing the solid foundation, keeping it simple without being boring or stale.

    My two questions are:
    1. What's the best way to go about transcribing the song? I don't really read or write music, and have a heckuva time counting/figuring out 16th notes. I can listen to it, feel it, and play it, but sitting down analytically is maddening to me (hmmm....maybe that's a good thing for me to practice?)
    2. What are your thoughts on how to take this bass line and incorporate the ideas to make them my own? I guess, more specifically, what's my take away? It's not that I've learned the song note for note, but that I've learned what? Some melodic phrasing? Some rhythmic phrasing? Use of ghost notes?

    Ok, so maybe that's 6 questions...

    What I've done so far is created a road map with each measure in the verses and choruses and filled them in with the chords. What I need to do is to notate the nuances. The little pick up notes, the slides, the ghost notes, etc.
  2. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    I have started calling up sheet music that has the bass clef, i.e. not fake chord or lead sheet, and seeing what the printed sheet music has as far as chromatic/diatonic fills and runs for this song may be. I'm happy with the fake chord the band director gives me, but, I've now reached the point that I would like to flesh out my bass line and add a few runs, etc. IF THEY Fit.

    I still play from fake chord that I transpose to Nashville numbers, but, I now like to see if the published bass clef has something I would like to include in my bass line.

    Why not transcribe by ear? My ear is not that good and bass clef sheet music is not that hard to find. Simple as that.

    I am not a note for note guy, that does not lift my kilt. You may like this and if so play from the sheet music.

    Google "real books" that have both the treble and bass clef. It'll cost some money; normally like 100 songs for $30. But that is closer to the real thing than I ever could get transcribing by ear.

    Here are a few look inside to make sure they are "real books" and have the bass line shown. Amazon normally lets you look inside.
  3. BaileyMan

    BaileyMan Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    San Francisco
    Thanks for your feedback. I could try to find the sheet music, but I also like the practice of figuring it out by ear (and it's easier for me than reading music). Sometimes I'll use a combination of both. Admittedly, I never get it totally exact when going by ear, but I get close enough. Also, my goal isn't to learn it note for note for the sake of playing the song in a band, but use it more as a case study.

    The real question I'm asking, is what's the best way to really study a song so that I can learn from a song more than just learn the song. If I'm not integrating what I'm learning into my playing then all I'll ever do is copy someone else's bass lines and never develop my own voice.