This month’s transcription is Uptown Funk, with Jamareo Artis on bass.
This month’s transcription is Uptown Funk, with Jamareo Artis on bass. It is taken from Mark Ronson’s Uptown Special album (2015). Each track off the album references a certain genre and period of music, in this case it’s Funk via Prince and the “Minneapolis Sound” of the 1980s. The modality is centered around D minor, however the bass line has little to do with this as it plays root notes all the way through. The technique you are aiming for is grooving a slap line on a 5 string bass. There is a full transcription of the song and then a short crib notes version for 4 string bass to get stuck into.
The main bass groove is an echo of the catchy intro’s scat vocal line. It utilises the classic (long short), dotted quaver into semi-quaver funk rhythm. However that’s not all! There is a chromatic run during the drum break and then the doubling up of the snare fills underneath the horns in the chorus. All whilst still slapping away. This track is noteworthy for Jamareo’s use of space and restraint. The fills are tight and only serve the music, not his technique.
Things to note are Jamareo’s precision pocket playing, his extensive use of slides and his dynamics; slap for loud and fingers for quiet. An idea to steal off the record is his deceptive percussive tapping (fingers just pushing down muted strings into the pick ups) from bar 6; however subtle it adds that extra layer to the drums which is not there at the bar 16 break.
There really isn’t much to the this song in terms of construction; there are 3 sections which are best seen in the crib transcription for 4 string bass. It has a simple funk groove which is augmented, as the piece progresses, with very tight subtle fills and overdubs. The challenge will be getting these fills in and then back to beat one of the next bar. Most fills have been overdubbed and dropped in, so a better idea, and one this track lends itself to, is coming up with your own ideas. Check out the Marcus Miller quote in the reoccurring fill at bar 30.
That aside, this technique will not sound authentic without the right sound, think Marcus Miller. His sound is unique and a lot of that is down to his attack and his Fender bass. The same goes for Jamereo, it’s all about attack, however the use of Jazz pick ups, and possibly a preamp for tweaking the Eq will help. For further listening check out Treasure off Unorthodox Jukebox (2012) by Bruno Mars.
This is a bass line that grooves and has the possibilities for many extra fills. The track is made up of drums and guitar and follows the score. This pared down track will allow you to closely monitor your pocket playing, so keep an ear on whether you’re on, in front, or behind the beat. In the original Jamareo opts for on the beat during the groove and fills.
The transcription does not intend to violate any laws or copyrights, it is to be used for educational purposes (fair use).