1/03/2015

Weekly Basslines #148: Spooky (Atlanta Rhythm Section)

"Spooky" was originally an instrumental played and composed by the saxophonist Mike Sharpe in 1966.
In 1968 a vocal version of the song became a huge success for the group Classics IV. Guitarist James Cobb and producer Buddy Buie wrote the lyrics to the song and later became founding members of the Atlanta Rhythm Section. They re-recorded the song in 1979. Bassist Paul Goddard who sadly passed away in 2014 gave the song an extra lift by adding a real cool bassline to it.


The song starts in the key of E dorian and then (after the second verse) modulates up a half step to F dorian.
The dorian mode ist derived from the major scale:


Therefore the E dorian scale includes the same seven notes as the D major scale. The main difference is a different set of chord-progressions. The important I-IV-V chords in D major are D-G-A, but in E dorian they are Em-A-Bm. The next figure shows you all the diatonic chords of E dorian:


Each scale has a set of very common chord-progressions. One of the most common in the dorian scale is the change between the I-chord (which is minor) and the IV-chord (which is major).

The famous dorian i- IV-Progression in E dorian would be Em - A. In "Spooky" the chords are embellished by adding so called "optional" notes to the basic triads.


It makes a really cool sounding progression. The next figure shows those two chords for all of you who like to try them on guitar:


The following transcription of the song is done off the 1979 album "Underdog" and might vary in some details from the bassline played in the video above. 

Here's the complete transcribtion:



Here's a little tutorial video I made playing the first two verses: