View Full Version : Transcribing bass lines

05-07-2005, 07:46 AM
I want to know if it's OK to transpose up an octave when transcribing the bass line - It's a great way to identify the notes, but I wonder if it can prevent me from learning how to transcribe bass notes without transposition.

Is that he usual way of transcribing unclear bass notes? Or do you just learn to automatically hear the roots inside your head?

05-07-2005, 11:35 AM
If you're using a guitar for reference when transposing, then you kind of have to play it up an octave. Just as long as you're aware of what the original octave is, you're fine.

As for unclear notes, that's just the nature of transcribing, and especially bass parts. For me, I listen to a part in numerous places; on my computer, my portable cd player, and best of all, my car. I have a station wagon and the tailgate rattles if you crank the bass, which makes it easy to pick out certain bass frequences. Other than that, you can use a little bit of theory to deduce what the notes 'probably' are. For example, if you know what the chord is that the guitar or whatever is playing, then you would know only certain notes would 'work' with that, so it narrows down the possibilities that you have to work with.

05-08-2005, 06:09 PM
I say go with whatever method yeilds the best results. As long as you know what you're doing there's nothing wrong. This is especially true for bass lines because I know I'm not alone when I say that when finding the chords to a song with complex harmonies I am VERY dependant on what the bass is playing...so you want to be able to get the notes without leaving any room for discussion. I know a lot of people get to the point where they can track the root movement in their head, but I was talking to my guitar teacher about this and he said that honestly he isn't sure if he actually tracks the movement or knows the root as soon as the chord is played...he knows what the root is, but it is something that has just developed over time without any thought put into it...plus, tracking things in your head is usually somewhat vague in the best of times.

I've always found a good set of headphones to be superior to anything else I've tried...but the rattling of a car is kind of interesting.

05-10-2005, 08:07 AM
Let me mention (again! :) ) a good old iBreathe patented method of eartraining using a vacuum cleaner :D

I tell ya you can sing about 3 multiples of the VC's main frequency so that the audible overtones cover but the 3 octaves. Go for older models and you'll get even broader a span! Nice example of bass notes transposition.

This is a joke but there's some sense to it so I agree with silent-storm that you'd rather stick to the method that works best for you. To me it's like setting the monitor brightness higher to see the details on the screen. I mean it's normal to have problems with identifying bass lines cos they don't fit into the 2k-3k Hz range which is the most audible to the human's ear. Sometimes you'll just hear the pulse and will have to either guess what the pitch is (music theory might help here) or transpose it higher bringing it above some dB theshold where you'd feel more comfortable.