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Bass Transcription by Andreas Farmakalidis: Santa Fe from the Musical Rent

Used for educational reasons

This is my bass line transcriptions from the musical RENT (Which I was assistant director for in Hollywood).

Rent is a musical with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson based on Puccini’s opera La boheme. It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East side.

It is one of my favourite musicals. It has a couple of very interesting bass lines. I am posting a transcriptions of the basic groove of the tune called Santa Fe.

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  1. Igor Saavedra

    Igor Saavedra

    April 22, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    I took a look at it and read it (assuming its a 6/8 metric)…, sounds nice…, cheers Andreas..!

  2. andreas farmakalidis

    andreas farmakalidis

    April 22, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Thanks for your nice words Igor. Yes it is a 6/8 metric & feel.

    This particular bass line is usually played when the character named “Angel” comes in the picture. Sometimes it is with a 12/8 feel, or a 6/8 and the most weird one sometimes it is with a 3/4 feel . There are times that it is transposed but the general idea is this one. I like this particular bass line because i think it is “unconventional” due to its “guitaresque” style.

    It is a great exercise as well in order for people to learn their bass – especially on a 4 string.

    In addition sometimes in the musical it has to be played finger-style, with a pick – sometimes it requires a sub-bass sound and lastly sometimes it requires it to be muted.

    On the original broadway recording – Anthony Jackson is playing bass!

  3. Randy Mintz

    April 28, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    I have played RENT several times, and love playing Santa Fe. It is quite a challenge to play and to get the right sound. I have often wondered if this was originally played on a 4 string.

  4. andreas farmakalidis

    andreas farmakalidis

    April 28, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Hi Randy,
    It is definitely a challenge to play especially on a 4 string.
    The notes is the easy part. you are right about that —The right articulation and the right sound is the hard part.

    I am actually doing RENT right now in Hollywood and i was lucky enough to meet with the RENT original cast. I was told that Larson originally wrote the bass part for a 4 string bass.
    I would guess that it is true since the musical was composed early 90s were 4 – string was (and still is i think ) the most widely available as well as affordable basses.

    In addition — in the bass part of the whole musical there is only one “low D” which has a marking “Octave divider pedal” on top –therefore i am guessing this shows that the whole bass part was written for a 4 string bass.

    What is your opinion about RENT? may i ask which is one your favorite RENT bass line ?

  5. John


    June 29, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Thanks for the transcription. Rent has some amazing bass lines throughout and I’ve been dying to get my hands on the bass book for the show or something close. I’d love to use it for sight reading practice rather than try and figure it out by ear.

    While Santa Fe is probably the most notable line, there are many beautiful fills through the show: “Without You” comes to mind.

  6. Andreas Farmakalidis

    Andreas Farmakalidis

    June 29, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Hi John
    Thank you Cornelia comment.

    I always like to please everyone who reads my monthly column therefore I will transcribe “without you”
    And send it to the editor tonight . Hopefully it will be up next month. If you are looking for other “rent” bass lines let me know since I have done the show numerous times and I am very familiar with the music. I do not have the score since I am not allowed to keep it ( should have made an Illegal copy of it strictly for “educational reasons”)

  7. andreas farmakalidis

    andreas farmakalidis

    July 2, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I am just informing you that “Without You” – another bass line from the musical RENT is up.

  8. John


    July 2, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Thanks Andreas!

  9. Randy Mintz

    August 11, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Sorry it took me so long to get back to this Andreas. Enjoyed your comments about the original bass part. Makes sense to me that it was on 4 string also. I think it must have just been a good keyboard part that someone decided to let the bass player play. Doesn’t fall under the fingers so well, but it sure is fun. I saw it on Broadway, but it was too long ago to really remember how this part sounded. What a fun show for bass players!

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