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Worship Bassist’s Toolkit – Transcription by Steven Gregory

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Welcome to the next article in my “Worship Bassist’s Toolkit” series.  In this series, we are thinking about tools that worship bassists must have available, maintained, and ready to use in order to create passionate, musical worship.  Rather than the physical tools that are required for our craft, we have investigated musical tools such as fretboard knowledge and technique awareness.  In this article, we will examine another musical tool:  transcription.

Transcription, which is listening to music and translating it into a written form, is a skill that is critical for all musicians to practice.  Those who transcribe regularly experience amazing increase in their musical abilities and understanding.  In truth, more than one article is required to thoroughly investigate the art of transcription and I will most certainly dedicate future articles to this topic.  However, transcription of music is definitely a tool that worship bassists must have in their toolkit, so this article will give an overview of transcription and look at the practical application of transcription for worship bassists.

Transcription has become a vital tool for the worship bassist due to the regular practice of worship teams using recordings, rather than sheet music, to learn songs.  As worship team members, our job is to learn the songs from the recordings and be ready to play them in performance by the next Sunday.  One approach to this task is to learn the songs by ear, without transferring the information to paper.  This is certainly a valid way to learn tunes and can be, in certain situations, the right choice.  If our charge is to bring our best to worship and provide a depth of understanding to the songs, transcription is the better option.  Transcription allows the worship bassist to analyze song structure, chord progressions, dynamic changes, and other important elements in addition to the bass line.  The act of translating from an aural to visual format forces the music to be truly understood, rather than accepting a superficial grasp of a song.

If never or rarely done, transcription can be a daunting task.  As with many things, the best way to learn to transcribe is to do a lot of transcriptions!  To help, break down transcription into smaller steps:

1. Listen.  This is the obvious first step, but consider taking this step without having your instrument in hand and paper and pen at the ready.  Just listen to the song, without distraction.  Use a quality system for this – whether you use headphones or speakers is completely up to you.  If you have taken the crazy step of actually giving yourself a few days to transcribe your music, listening with different systems can help.  I often do my main transcription work at home with headphones, but listen to the songs when I am driving in my car as well.  For larger transcription projects, I have often been surprised at what I notice distinctly in the car that was less noticeable at home.  Take your time and listen to the song.

2. Learn.  Start the learning process still away from pen and paper – try to separate the bass line in your mind and hear the rhythm and harmony that you will be playing.  Also mentally take note of the basic song structure.  If there are certain parts of the line and/or song that are noteworthy, listen to them carefully and take notice that this part will need extra attention later.

3. Write. Depending on your situation, you may need to translate the recording into a chord chart with notes about the bass line, a note-for-note transcription of the bass line, or a hybrid of the two.  For basic tunes, I often do a chord transcription along with bass line elements.  When approaching a more difficult section or song, I prefer to do a strict note-for-note transcription.  Even when doing a basic chord transcription, use staff paper so that you can translate the music across the measures appropriately. In any transcription, mark song sections, use repeats and endings, and notate as much as possible.

During this stage, you often will need to incorporate the use of your instrument to determine the harmony and bass line elements you are transcribing.  When you do use your instrument, make sure that you are careful to not play over parts in a way that blocks you from hearing the actual recorded bass line.  Using your ears to determine what is being played on the recording is key here, not focusing on your playing.

4. Edit.  Once you’ve been through the transcription, go back and listen with a critical ear.  Make sure your notation is correct and you have accurately transcribed the song.  This is also an excellent opportunity to mark dynamics and make notes on the page to alert you to tricky spots.  Any extra performance notes should be added at this time.

5. Play.  Play along with your transcription, correct any mistakes, and add final notes.  This is also the stage where you can learn the bass-specific technical intricacies necessary to play the part you have just transcribed.

When you have completed this process you have trained your ears, learned a song, and brought forth performance elements that should be considered in rehearsal.  In addition, your chart will save a lot of time the next time the song shows up on the set list.  Rather than learning the music superficially and forgetting the song immediately after performance, you have obtained a wealth of knowledge about the song and have given yourself a platform from which you can bring your very best to worship.

Transcription is an essential tool for worship bassists to have available, maintained, and ready to use. As I mentioned above, this article is only the start of a discussion on transcription.  I would love to hear about your experiences with transcription – leave a comment below!

Until next time, I hope that your bass playing is blessed and that you can bless others through your bass playing!

Bass CDs

New Album: Ben Mortiz, MORENO

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New Album: Ben Mortiz, MORENO

The Chilean bassist, producer and sociologist, Ben Mortiz, celebrates the launch of his latest studio work, “MORENO” an album that mixes jazz, soul, and funk following the characteristic Latin style of  Mortiz. The artist completely produced the album under the label “Fallen Lab Records” in the south of Chile.

“MORENO” brings deep and smooth sounds, expressing a sophisticated and elegant Latin vibe. You will find meditative harmonies and joyful melodic voices. The record’s core is the human vibration that Mortiz feels from the Latin American music. The Caribbean rhythms and strong Latin percussions are the musical glue in every song that emerges with the force of the electric bass.

“MORENO” creates a real connection between corporal reactions and mind sensations, always in reference to the originality of Mortiz to fuse modern and classic Latin sounds.

For more information, visit online at danielbenmortiz.com/

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New Gear: Phil Jones Bass X2C Dual Compressor/Effects Loop

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New Gear: Phil Jones Bass X2C Duel Compressor/Effects Loop

Step Into X2C With Phil Jones Bass Dual Compressor/Effects Loop…

Phil Jones Bass latest pedal innovation is the X2C Dual Compressor with Dual Effects Loop for performance and recording. The X2C incorporates advanced compressor circuit technology and provides comprehensive tone control with a dual crossover feature which divides the signal into frequency bands ranging from 100Hz to 500Hz, ensuring exceptional clarity and dynamics in tone refinement. 

With insert jacks on each band, the X2C unlocks limitless creativity, enabling players to use various FX pedals for custom tone sculpting. Additionally, it functions as an electronic crossover, ideal for driving high-performance, 2-way bass rigs.

PJB’s Dual-Band compression design is more flexible than standard single-band compressors and provides a more natural and transparent sound. It also provides greater control over shaping and managing dynamics where standard compressors affect the entire frequency spectrum of an audio signal.  

PJB’s dual compressor enables the player to shape specific frequency ranges of an audio signal which allows for compressing the low frequencies while preserving the high frequencies, or vice-versa. Treating the low-end with a dedicated band also allows for heavy compression without affecting the midrange frequencies, which carry the attack of the sound. 

Effects can be plugged into the insert jacks on the X2C and controlled separately. As an example, the lows can be adjusted separately for an overdrive pedal while the highs can be controlled for a chorus. 

Dividing the audio spectrum into fundamental frequencies and harmonics is also effective in the enrichment of slapping techniques. The low frequencies can be compressed without changing the dynamics of the “slap”. By controlling the low frequencies and focusing the attack on the slap the amplifier will sound louder while avoiding overloading of the amp or speakers. The low band can be compressed without the harmonics being affected. In addition, the send jacks can go to different amplifiers/speakers for a bi-amplification set up.

Compact and potent, the X2C embodies studio-grade excellence, setting a new standard for dynamic processing in an uncompromising, portable pedal. The street price is $359.99.

Visit online at www.pjbworld.com

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New Album: CATTANEO, Tim Lefebvre, Andrea Lombardini, Hypersphere

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New Album: CATTANEO, Tim Lefebvre, Andrea Lombardini, Hypersphere

CATTANEO, TIM LEFEBVRE AND ANDREA LOMBARDINI PRESENT ‘HYPERSPHERE’ EP
The members of Buñuel, David Bowie’s band and a prominent electronic artist are united and have releases their first collaborative release via Freecom Hub.

Hypersphere is an EP created by CATTANEOTim Lefebvre and Andrea Lombardini. Following their conceptual milestone, a dream team of bass players and multi-instrumentalists created fragments of music, coexisting and complementing each other individually and altogether. Having been playing with CATTANEO since 2016, Andrea Lombardini describes the process of their work as “strong musical connection”. Starting with the fully improvised set featuring drum-machine and pedal effects. “Some of Paolo’s keyboards are homemade and he has very unique sounds” – explains Andrea. Getting Tim Lefebvre to produce the EP, the duo simultaneously started another vehicle of their collaboration.

Moving their work organically, three extraordinary musicians managed to reach an almost-perfect balance between sounds of guitar and bass with electronic instruments. Morphing together, numerous guitar riffs, loops of synthesizers. Dominating electronic sounds get united with a rock take, depicting dark moods and ethereal landscapes. All these elements work in tandem to create something new each time.

Order Hypersprehere here.

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Bass Events

Milt Hinton Institute for Bass Summer Camp in New Jersey

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Milt Hinton Institute for Bass sSummer Camp in New Jersey

Milt Hinton Institute for Bass Summer Camp in New Jersey…

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) will host the Milt Hinton Institute for Studio Bass, an exceptional summer music education program for teens, in residence at Montclair State University, in July 2024. Unique among music camps, the Hinton Institute is designed to support intermediate and advanced bass players ages 14 through 18, for a week of expert classes, performances, ensemble work, studio sessions, lectures, workshops and more. The camp will run from July 14 through July 20, 2024Registration is open December 16, 2023, through  June 7, 2024for more information on applying to the Milt Hinton Institute, please visit njpac.org/hinton. Student musicians will be required to submit a video of themselves playing two performance pieces during the application process. Need-based tuition scholarships are available.

Peter Dominguez, acclaimed bassist and Professor of Double Bass and Jazz Studies at University of Wisconsin–Madison, will serve as the Institute’s Artistic Director.  An extraordinary faculty of professionals from the music world — including Rufus Reid, Ben Williams, Luis Perdomo, Jeremy Smith, Sam Suggs, Martin Wind, Marcus McLaurine, Bill Moring, Mimi Jones, Emma Dayhuff, Diana Gannett, and Bill Crow — will  focus camp instruction on bass performance techniques and ensemble playing in a range of musical genres including classical, Latin and jazz. 

The camp is named for Milt Hinton (1910-2000) a prolific jazz bassist, studio musician and photographer whose career intersected with many of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. The Institute has been held biennially since 2014. It joined forces with the Arts Center this season in part to draw a larger faculty of professional bass players from among the many musicians living and working in the New York City area. Notable guest artists from the region are expected to visit with campers as well.    

“We’re very pleased to have this program be part of the larger vision of NJPAC and its extensive Arts Education offerings. The work being done by the Arts Center has a significant social impact” said David G. Berger, a lifelong friend of Hinton’s, whose Berger Family Foundation helped support the camp.  “That would have been extremely attractive to Milt. He wanted everybody to be involved with music — old and young, men and women, all colors, all creeds. Long before it was popular, that’s the way he lived his life — he welcomed everyone.”

“I grew up in the jazz festival business, and there was no one whose artistry matched his heart  better than Milt Hinton,” said John Schreiber, President and CEO of NJPAC. “He was a brilliant bassist and he also was a brilliant human being. He was the heartbeat of any band he played in and he exuded a kindness that to me exemplified the spirit of jazz.”

Known as “the dean of jazz bassists,” Hinton played with jazz greats from the early 1930s on, performing with Jabbo Smith, Eddie South, Cab Calloway, Ethel Waters, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Erroll Garner, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and many others. Hinton also recorded with pop superstars including Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Sam Cooke, Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, Bette Midler and Willie Nelson. Hinton also toured extensively, and in 1993, he was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Fellowship. He was also well known for his photography, through which he documented seven decades of jazz history. Hinton was renowned for his willingness to mentor young players; a scholarship program in his name was established by his friends and admirers on his 70th birthday. After Hinton’s passing, the Institute was conceived as a way to continue his work in supporting younger bass players. “Two of Milt’s favorite words — ‘cohesiveness’ and ‘sharing’ — are at the core of this week-long Institute that brings together emerging bassists who often are the singular players in their own community and school ensembles,” said Artistic Director Dominguez, (whose own career was advanced when he became one of the first winners of a Hinton Scholarship Competition  in 1981).  “To be a bass player is often to focus not on being a soloist, but on musical collaboration — making other musicians in an ensemble sound better. Bass players are the soul of ensemble playing, and to develop these young souls through arts education programming at NJPAC is both an honor for us and an important responsibility,” said David Rodriguez, NJPAC’s Executive Producer and Executive Vice President — and himself a well-known professional bass player.

The camp will be housed on the campus of Montclair State University in Montclair, where students will live, study and have the opportunity to take part in multiple performances. “Bringing the prestigious Milt Hinton Institute for Studio Bass to the campus of Montclair State University marks an exciting chapter for the College of the Arts, reinforcing our commitment to providing exceptional opportunities for young musicians,” said Daniel Gurskis, Dean of the College of the Arts. “With NJPAC as our partner, we look forward to creating an environment where passion meets skill, fostering a new generation of accomplished and versatile bassists. We are confident that the Institute will become a beacon, attracting talent from diverse backgrounds who are the future of bass music.”

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This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram

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TOP 10 Basses of the week

Check out our top 10 favorite basses on Instagram this week…

Click to follow Bass Musician on Instagram @bassmusicianmag

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