Jamerson Transcriptions

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough [Outro] – Diana Ross

Chained – Marvin Gaye

Distant Lover – Marvin Gaye

Fever In the Funk House – James Jamerson

Home Cookin’ – Jr. Walker & the All-Stars

I Need Your Lovin’ – Temptations

Just To Keep You Satisfied – Marvin Gaye

Love Child – Diana Ross and the Supremes

Mutiny Bass Solo – Jr. Walker & the All-Stars

Power of Love[Intro] (Live) – Martha Reeves & the Vandellas

Save the Children – Marvin Gaye

Save the Children [Coda] (Live) – Marvin Gaye

Standing In the Shadows Of Love – Four Tops

What Christmas Means To Me – Stevie Wonder

What’s Going On (Live) – Marvin Gaye

What’s Happening Brother (Live) – Marvin Gaye

What’s Happening Brother – Marvin Gaye

You Met Your Match – Stevie Wonder

7 Responses to “Jamerson Transcriptions”
  1. Steven says:

    Could you transcribe some or all of Jamerson’s performance on “Save The Children” from Marvin Gaye’s album “What’s Going On?”

  2. Justin says:

    I’m working on “Love Child” and would appreciate some assistance, too.

    • hookmaster says:

      What’s hanging you up? A specific section? or in general?

      • Justin says:

        I’ve figured out the intro and the bridge. The root notes of the chorus and verse are simple enough but I can’t always exactly pick out the decoration or variation which Jamerson is known for. I’m simply learning by ear. Do you have any suggestions–either for learning by ear or a different technique? I can’t find a musical score. I could use assistance on all of the sections besides the two I mentioned above.

        E-mail: justin at jzabriskie . com

      • hookmaster says:

        I forgot one other very important and probably very obvious thing. If you do use any tracks from the internet make sure the audio has not been altered (e.g. sped up/slowed down, pitch shifted, etc.) as this will affect how you interpret Jamerson’s use of open strings and ultimately the accuracy of your transcription. These types of modifications have become common practice on YouTube — a loophole to get around copyright infringement. Best of luck with your transcription! -DG

      • hookmaster says:

        Transcription is like anything, it just takes practice. But how do you practice it? Here are some guidelines I use to make the transcription process go as smoothly as possible. Some of these are obvious.

        1. Know the changes. Before I do any bass transcribing I always write out a lead sheet. This helps things move a lot faster and allows you to analyze the line as you transcribe. I believe transcription is a form of analysis.

        2. Use headphones.

        3. Tune your instrument, but to the recording not your tuner.

        4. Give yourself the advantage. If there is an isolated track available, use it! Instrumental tracks of the original are also ideal. You’re in luck as there is currently an instrumental version of “Love Child” floating around YouTube:

        Also, Motown stereo recordings of the late 60’s often separated the drums from the bass in the left and right channels. By playing around with the left and right panning or splitting the track in a free program like Audacity you can usually bring out more Jamerson. Unless you are working with an isolated track (and even then) there are almost always those moments where it is difficult to hear everything that is going on. This is usually because of the mix or because Jamerson throws you a curve ball. Ultimately at these “questionable” moments the only way to figure it out is to make your best guess. Using the lead sheet you made for the tune can help with this. I try to think like Jamerson by thinking like an upright player who might using open strings, raking techniques, etc. to facilitate neck shifts or string crossings. Jamerson’s legendary “hook” technique is arguably the most important part of his sound. I have found that playing Jamerson with two fingers is actually less idiomatic than the one-finger approach.

        5. Always check your work with the recording. If it doesn’t sound right and more importantly if it doesn’t feel right it’s probably wrong. I always mark any questionable spots in my transcription with red note heads and come back to them the next day, sometimes months, even years later. Having fresh ears can make all the difference.

        6. Don’t be fooled by the bass drum. Jamerson’s syncopated style frequently plays off of the bass drum, which has the effect of sounding like more notes than are actually being played.

        7. Use multiple recordings. Motown was notorious for reusing the same backing tracks for different artists, which means that the mix is often quite different. For example the backing track for David Ruffin’s 1969 cover of “Feelin’ Alright” is reused in Glady’s Knight’s 1971 version where the mix is quite different. If you reach a “questionable” moment it can be helpful to jump to the other version in the hope that the bass is mixed a little more prominently at that moment.

        These are just some preliminary suggestions. The best advice I can give you is to just dive in and go for it. Transcribe anything and everything you really like and want to figure out for your own playing. You will make mistakes, but as you continue doing this you will notice that there will be fewer “questionable” moments and you will start to require less hearings to get the line down.

        I transcribed the tune up to the 2nd verse. You can use this to check your work. I hope this helps! -DG

  3. Justin says:

    Thank you DG. These are awesome tips–some of which I already practice and some of which that I haven’t thought of yet. I didn’t know there was an instrumental track of Love Child hosted on the Internet; that will help. I’ll compare my transcription to yours once I complete it.

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