Weekly Basslines #131: Freight Train (Chris Paulson)

And the requests keep coming in.....
Again from my former student Marina, I've been asked to show her the bassline that I'd been playing to the song "Freight Train" when performing with Chris Paulson. Chris is a great singer/songwriter from the San Francisco Bay area with which I had the honour and the pleasure to play with for a few years. I even appear on one of his records "Streets Of Frankfurt", which was recorded in Germany. The song "Freight Train" however is a cover-song that Chris had added to his setlist back then. Originally written by Fred Eaglesmith it has a nice "Train-groove" and I applied a very special picking hand technique to support this rhythm. I call this technique the "Three Stroke Deadnote Pattern" and the following video demonstrates how it works:

The figure shows how I notate this technique:

Here's Chris Paulson version of Freight Train with me playing the bass to it:

I recently found a video on YouTube that was recorded during a benefit performance we did in a church in Frankfurt, collecting money for the homeless. Here you can hear two of Chris' own compositions: "Streets of Frankfurt" and the wonderful "Night Rain":

If you like the music of Chris Paulson, please visit his homepage: 


Weekly Basslines #130: You Raise me up (Westlife)

Christmas is just around the corner and that's the time when the setlists of many bands are getting sentimentalized. Markus from Switzerland requested this one. This tearjerking ballad is not a musical lightweight as it takes us through three different keys and lots of chord-inversions, so you always have to be on the watch with all the changing accidentals and non-root bassnotes. Starting in the key of Eb major (Bb, Eb, Ab), then changing to F major (only Bb) and finally culminating in Gb major with six accidentals (Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb) the main challenge in this tune is to keep track of the harmonies. And all those harmonies are cleverly chosen by the composers (Rolf Lovland and Brendan Graham) with the intention to create big emotions.
There's only one verse in this tune at the beginning, which is solely accompanied by the piano. The chords of the verse are very basic, mainly I-IV-V: 

But the frequent usage of chord-inversions hides the relatively simple structure of the verse progression and creates a smooth tension.
The chorus dramatically starts with the relative minor chord (Cm) and ends with the more peaceful major tonic (Eb):

The following Interlude establishes the first key change to a joyful F major:

The chorus starts again with the relative minor chord (now in F major being Dm) creating again a bit of sweet tearfulness, which is finally enhanced by a rise in key of a whole step to Gb during the last chorus. Sentimentality at it's maximum. ;-)

Thanks to Markus for the donation and this sentimental moment.


Weekly Basslines #129: Don't Blame Yourself (The New Deal)

The New Deal was a three-piece electronic acid jazz band formed in Toronto 1998 and disbanded in 2011.
"Don't blame yourself" can be found on the 2003 release "Gone Gone Gone".
Cory from Massachusetts sent me this request and really made me work hard again on transcribing  ;-)
But don't mind, because it definitely was worth it. The song starts with a 16-bar Bass-Solo and this solo is a wonderful addition to my Pentatonic Workshop I posted a few month ago. Bassist Dan Kurtz intensively uses the A minor Pentatonic scale during his solo and moves around with it all over the fretboard.

Let's take a look at the A minor pentatonic scale:

As you can see the A minor pentatonic scale is derived fom the A minor scale by ommitting notes at the half steps (B-C & E-F). C and E are part of the A minor tonic chord (A-C-E) and hence the "B" and "F" are removed. The remaining five notes form the A minor pentatonic scale (A-C-D-E-G).

Let's continue with a short analysis of the different "pentatonic shapes" Dan Kurtz uses during his solo:
(If you're not familiar with the concept of the pentatonic shapes take a look at my Pentatonic Workshop Part 1 + 2)

You can see how all the different shapes of the pentatonic scale are connected to each other like the pieces of a jigsaw and thus you can play the scale all over the fretboard. You only have to memorize the different shapes and their order on the fretboard. And I bet that's excactly what Dan Kurtz did, when he played this solo. Sometimes he's approaching single notes by using chromatic passing tones, but in large parts he limits his tone-choice to the five notes of the pentatonic scale.

Here's the complete bassline to "Don't Blame Yourself":

Thanks to Cory for the donation and this nice bassline!


Weekly Basslines #128: Willin' (Little Feat, Southern Colors)

This request is a special one as I've been asked to transcribe my own version of this song. I've recorded "Willin'" with a band called "Southern Colors" back in 2000 on a live album called "Wildlive". The band was a sideproject to the "Sunnyland Bluesband" and as you can guess by the name we were doing mainly Southern Rock Cover Songs ranging from Charlie Daniels Band, Marshall Tucker, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Allman Brothers to Lynyrd Skynyrd and Little Feat. Also a few self-penned songs completed the set-list.

But before I show you how I played on this song, here's the original version by Little Feat from the bands second album "Sailin' Shoes".

The song also appeared on the bands self-titled debut album, but had no bass on it:

Here's our version:

Thanks again to Marina for the donation!


Weekly Basslines #127: Let Her Go (Passenger)

This was requested by Markus from Switzerland.

Like many musical talents Passenger aka Mike Rosenberg had to play around clubs & bars and even on the street for many years until he got any major recognition. Finally with the latest release "All The Little Things" and the single "Let Her Go" international recognition was achieved.

To learn more about the man with his unsual and unique voice, here's an interview from last year in "Vancouver Weekly": http://www.vancouverweekly.com/who-is-mike-rosenberg/


Weekly Basslines #126: Line Clichés (Part 2)

Here's the second part of my little workshop on the subject of "line clichés".  If you haven't read the first part yet, I strongly recommend to do so (Line clichés part 1).

In part 1 I showed you line clichés against minor chords, which are by far the more common ones.
In this part I want to talk about line clichés against major chords.

This type is starting from the root C of the c major chord and descending chromatically to the A. It's the major equivalent to line cliché type a:

In Joe Cockers “You Are So Beautiful” the piano uses this “line cliché” to accompany the three first words of the vocal line:

Finally here’s the “line cliché” with a major chord and an ascending line from the 5th.

 A very famous example for the type d line cliché is the samba tune “Aquarela do Brasil” by Ary Barroso written in 1939.

Here's a version of this tune by Kate Bush recorded for the 1985 movie "Brazil" by Terry Gilliam:

 A variation of this type d "line cliché" is used in this weeks requested transcription.

The wonderful tune "Midnight In Harlem" (requested by Marina) by the Tedeschi Trucks Band uses an ascending line cliché with a stepwise movement in whole tones instead of the chromatic semitones found in the example of "Aquarela do Brasil": 

The nice atmosphere created by this stunningly beautiful chord-progressions is complemented by a amazing bassline of Oteil Burbridge and an extraordinary slide-solo by Dereck Trucks. This is a real piece of art!


Thanks again to Marina for the donation and this really inspiring request!