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Bass Transcription: Paul Chambers - "So What"

May 7, 2016

Paul Chambers iconic bass line continues to be THE most downloaded transcription on thebasscase.

 

And for good reason: it's the 9+ minute opening track on the best selling jazz album of all time, Miles Davis 1959 Kind of Blue, titled “So What.”

 

A few pointers for the transcription – on the famous bass intro, in measure 16, 24, etc. (similar measures), Mr. P.C. plays something around a quarter tone above E.  It’s not precisely an E, nor F, but in between.  I’ve listened to several different recordings of the song where Paul plays in this manner.  I like this “messier” approach that prioritizes the groove and song form.

 

Interesting side note: on many other live versions of Chambers playing with Miles post-studio (i.e. Zurich, the Olympia, Stockholm, etc.), the song is much, much faster, like 250+ bpm, with Paul still churning out the bass intro note for note, along with the 10 minutes of walking bass!

 

They'll never appreciate what we do.......

 

Something else I hadn’t noticed before… he strongly outlines a Db major on the “B” section rather than Eb dorian (as you see on charts).  For you theory people, this all makes perfect sense, as Eb dorian is what you get when you play the Db major scale starting on the 2nd degree.  BUT.  It’s one thing to know theory, and it’s another to play it effectively… and also to the band leader’s liking (whose preferences can change wildly from person to person).  Both Evans (piano) and Davis (trumpet) strongly support the Db major in their playing as well.

 

 

 

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