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Friday, February 6, 2015

A James Jamerson's Bass Line X-Rayed

James Jamerson image
This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time. It's a visual map of the legendary Motown bassist James Jamerson's bass line on Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." It's been traveling around the web and social media lately, but I want to take a more detailed look.

1. Take notice to the bass line in the intro, it's actually the lead line with the other instruments acting more like a pad.

2. This visualization is pretty cool because you can easily see that some of Jamerson's trademarks are a lot of octaves and chromatic lead-ins to the root note of a chord.

3. When you listen to the track, the bass line sounds undisciplined, but there are actually repeated motifs that Jamerson varies each time through a section.

4. Stepping away from the bass a bit, take a listen to the vocals. Marvin's hard to the left and Tammi's hard to the right.

5. Listen through to the end as you'll hear the real ending that didn't make the final mix.

Thanks to my buddy Larry Smith for the heads up on this video.


Umi said...

I love this visualization for showing the relative intervals between the notes. So neat!

Phil said...

Did he write this bass line or was it written by the arranger?

Bobby Owsinski said...

Good question, Phil. Most arrangers will just write a special riff and leave the rest up to the player, but I can't say for sure here.


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