(i have to believe this has been answered on here but i cannot seem to find it, hence this post)
how would one go about figuring out the correct bass part of an existing song? i am dying to play ‘safari’ by the breeders, but i cannot find tabs/sheet music for josephine wigg’s bass anywhere. then i thought ‘hell ill do it myself’ and then i realized i have zero idea how to do that. is there some kind of general way of going about this? i assume it is not as easy as an app (but if it matters/helps im on macOS if these is indeed an app.)
i know that there are a ton of wrong tabs for songs out there so i really would like to be able to figure out an accurate tab for that song the way she plays it. (video below tho i have posted it before on the what are you listening to thread):
I did a Google search for Breeders Safari bass tab. This is one hit that came up.
To answer the original question- you learn to transcribe!
The first step of that is to learn to distinguish intervals. This takes a long time but is fun and rewarding in that it mostly involves a lot of listening to music, pausing, and trying the intervals on your instrument.
@mgoldst This song is based on a relatively simple chord progression. When you listen to the song, the chord changes are apparent. You can pause the song to find the song’s key root tone. Then repeat that process for every other chord of the song.
The tab video is, of course, the quicker, easier way to short-circuit the process of learning how to play the song. It is the Cliff Notes alternative to actually studying the material.
But learning to use your ear in conjunction with your fingerboard is a long-term way to play any future tunes you want.
Of interest. An older video from Josh where he demonstrates his use of the app Transcribe!
Module 16 Josh talks about using the Transcribe! application.
Learning to transcribe is the best way to go if you want to develop as a musician. Continuing to lean on the shoulder of some unseen person to tell you which string to pluck and where to fret only serves to stunt your growth.
As others have stated, Transcribe! is a great tool for this.
I agree. Transcribing songs kill many birds at the same time. You also quickly find out your favorite method of documenting your notation. In the days of instant gratification with tabs an YouTube play along, this essential skill get overlooked and by the time your playing skills improve your listening skills will be lagging behind.
Transcribing songs is a great thing. Go for it if it works for you.
Thx for this “Transcribe!” is an awesome tool.
Look at where they put their fingers on the fretboard.
Works for me
The last few weeks I’ve been only transcribing songs but not playing them, I guess I played enough while doing them. Then I learn how to put them on gp8, it was fun, well kinda. I feel like that’s about to reach the saturation point then I’ll dig them all up and start playing them.
I found out if I was the one inputting the notation, I have no problem scanning up ahead while playing. Another bonus is I’m more familiar with tab as well. I can read notes on the fly but the new found tab reading skills is much welcomed.
You can take a wrong tab as your starting guidepost and then slow YouTube down to a crawl and figure out what’s right and what’s not. I’ve done this a couple times. It takes a while but states to teach your ear and helps you learn transcribing without starting from a blank sheet and a blank stare (how I start).
If you split the track out and focus on the isolated bass this helps sometimes too. Take it a bar or two at a time, you’ll be learning the song as you go. For songs I really want to learn with garbage tabs out there this method brings lots of joy.
I’ve noticed that I end up playing the songs I transcribe better than ones I get tabs for, even when the tabs are good. The close listening required to transcribe helps get the song burned into my brain better.
No real gimmicks to doing it though, its tough, but has gotten better with practice. My process is:
- Map the sections of the song out on paper. Intro, verse1, chorus1, etc. Making note of when the bassline repeats or changes. How many unique parts do i actually need to learn? Usually seems more manageable this way
- Find the key
- Tackle the individual parts. Sometimes slowing it down helps or isolating the bass with Moises. But mostly brute force listening over and over again.
- determine the bpm of the song.
- make a new DAW project and set tempo to that bpm
- import a mp3 (legally of course) of the song as a new stereo reference track. this should line up measure for measure and you can usually use its kick drum to verify you got the bpm right.
- listen to the song in the DAW, and add markers on the appropriate measures for song structure (verse 1, chorus, verse 2, bridge, solo, etc) and any other notes for yourself (“bass starts”, etc)
- Now you can start analyzing the song for key, bassline, etc. Usually I use a parametric EQ to isolate the bass and listen to it.
- Grab your bass while doing this, make sure it is in tune, and try to match the root notes and intervals. Take notes of these.
- Keep iterating at this until you have the whole bassline, which will usually be a few repeating riffs. Chart it all out by measure.
If all you needed was the bassline, you’re done. The next few are if you’re like my bandmate and I and are covering the whole song
- repeat for other instruments (I actually start with charting the drums, often just entering them as I go, and do bass second)
- delete the reference track, you’re done with it
- lay down drum track first as a backbone if you haven’t already
- lay down bassline
- record other instruments with those as the backbone
- do vocals last
- mix, master, and tweak until it starts to drive you nuts, and call it done
I use an app called Moises.
It separates various parts of a song and you can create your own mix.
Bass only, good for figuring out the notes
Bass and vocals
Bass and drums
Bass, drum and vocals
Remove the bass completely, which is good if you want a bassless play along track.
You can play it in the app where you can see the chords or download any of the versions of the song you want.
I’ve been intrigued by Moises.
very helpful, thanks everyone!
I see Moises was mentioned. I’ve used that and others. Here are several “splitters” like that:
I’ve been using Demucs lately. Regardless of which service I use, I’ll split out the bass part, load it into Audacity, figure out the tempo, mark the bars and beats with Tracks | Add New | Mono Track and Generate | Rhythm Track. Then I notate each bar until I get tired of the song.