Ear Training
Transcription Techniques for Bass - Part 4
Guest teacher series
George Urbaszek

Transcription Techniques for Bass - Part 4
by George Urbaszek

Before reading this article, be sure and check out part 1, part 2 & part 3) of this series.

With the guidelines provided in the previous three lessons on Transcription Techniques, you should now be well equipped to follow this lesson and work out further bass lines on your own.

This lesson involves getting the actual bass notes of “I Feel Good” with instrument in hand. Enjoy!

Again, I will be “thinking out loud”.

  • Listening – This time WITH bass in hand (YEAH!)
  • Vocalize the central note, the first note of the bass riff.
  • Pause the CD, hum the note and find it on the fretboard. It is D.
  • Resume the CD, listen to the first bar of the bass riff. Pause the CD. Vocalize the bass riff.
  • How many different notes in the first bar? Three. LOW – HIGH – MID = Root – Octave – Seventh (alternating) = D D C# D C# D C# D.
  • Play the notes to check if OK. Good. Next.
  • Second bar. The syncopated rhythm (worked out before) uses notes 1 – 8 – b7 – 5 (D – D – C – A) and back to 1 (D) for the beginning of the next bar.
  • Play the 2-bar riff in one position between the 5th and 7th frets.
  • Play along with the CD. Fine.
  • Bar 5 goes to the IV-chord – starts on low G, 3rd fret, E-string – same shape as before.
  • Bar 7 goes back to the I-chord (D). But wait. It doesn't go D D – it goes C D. Problem cleverly solved.
  • Bars 9 and 10 go V V (A A) IV IV (G G) – easy.
  • The ascending unison line in bars 11 and 12 sounds like it begins with a major triad. Hum it. Yes.
  • Ah ha, the next note is the flat 7. Of course, it is a dominant 7 arpeggio.
  • The next note is higher still and seems to “hang” a bit openly. Play a couple of frets up the board. It is E.
  • The unison line is D F# A C E.

The next verse is the same as the first. Play along from the beginning, just to make sure.

  • The Bridge is just sax and drums, but I will work out the notes anyway (because they sound so funky and I like the challenge.)
  • Same root as before (D) with octave, flat 7 and that last note … so cool – the flat 3 (F)
  • “When I hold you …” descending bass line, sounds like the IV-chord.
  • Hum it. Play it. With CD. It is the IV-chord.
  • Bass starts on G, does 2 G’s, 2 F’s, 2 E’s, 2 D’s – times 2.
  • Goes back to the I-chord – same bass sequence: DD CC BB AA x2
  • Goes back to the same sequence off the G.
  • Ends differently – 3 quick notes.
  • Have another listen. Hum. “Up-to-five” – chromatic from G to A, i.e. G G# A

Back to chorus.
That’s almost it.
Play along from the beginning.
Get the right changes.

The tag is the same as the end of every chorus except for the extended ending. Let’s have a good listen to that.

  • It goes up to the 9th and then appears to descend over the minor pentatonic scale.
  • Let’s check that. Yes, from E to D C A G F D.
  • Check it out! All notes of the descending run are on the “dots”, the fingerboard makers; this makes it very easy to visualize.

That’s basically it. A few more play-alongs from beginning to end wouldn't hurt.
Get it tight and have some fun!

George Urbaszek
Bass Player and Music Educator
Serving Bass Players Worldwide since 1996

If you need a beginner-level, bass-specific CD to aid your aural skills, check out this CD. “Workin’ it Out – Aural Skills for Bass Players – Level I

Monthly subscriptions to online bass lessons available at

Other Lessons from George Urbaszek

Beats Workin’ - Getting the metronome to work for you
String Crossing

Bass Line Development
Playing Fast
Transcription Techniques for Bass - Part 1
Transcription Techniques for Bass - Part 2
Transcription Techniques for Bass - Part 3
Transcription Techniques for Bass - Part 4
Ear Training for Bass - Level 1

George Urbaszek © 2007

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