I wrote some charts for some functions recently and am making them publicly available.
Just a small disclaimer: there will be some inexact bits and may be some errors, these were just rough transcriptions to get me through the gigs I was doing. Perhaps they may do the same for you, or maybe you’d just like to do some reading practice.
Either way, here they are, along with the recordings:
The week that has just gone by has been intense. I was studying the charts for a musical whilst learning tunes for a gig with Crissy Lee (well-known drummer who worked alongside the Beatles, Al Jarreau) and Jackie Rawe (of Shakatak fame) et al, and all the while, trying to practice some standards for the two jazz gigs on Sunday.
Peter Pan, the musical, was a success. It was great to work with such good musicians, who all nailed their parts!
Musicals leave me feeling upbeat after the last show; there’s something really satisfying about playing the parts accurately and making the show a success. Also, the gifts/thank you cards are always a nice gesture!
On the Saturday, after the run of shows had finished, it was time go to a function in aid of the Peldon Village Hall and Essex Air Ambulance causes. This was with the wonderful Crissy Lee and Jackie Rawe amongst other fine muso’s. I had a great time and there were some really nice musical moments.
On the Sunday, I was at Leigh on Sea playing some jazz/latin music at Ten Green Bottles, and it was great to catch up and play with the great guitarist, Dan Parker. Later on that evening, even though I was fairly tired from a hectic week, I drove to the jazz gig with Graeme Culham at The Woolpack in Chelmsford. The place was pretty packed and it was a pleasure to play with Sam Edwards, Zak Barrett and of course Graeme. This is a brilliant monthly jazz gig that charges nothing on the door, and sees some of the best in UK jazz talent going through it! Jim Mullen, Nigel Price and Simon Spillett are all players who have come down to play. If you’re in the area, and even if you’re not, it’s well worth a look.
I have a comparatively restful, easy week this week, and am looking forward to a little bit more time off.
Initially, we had recorded a ton of function promo material (over two days worth) and the audio had unfortunately become corrupted and unusable. The video was fine though, so we had the gruelling task of transcribing our parts and re-recording the audio to sync with the original video.
That wasn’t particularly fun.
But, hanging with the guys at the studio was great! We managed to track nineteen songs in six hours, which was a relief, as I had a lot on that day.
However, I learnt after that day that we had another few tracks to record that hadn’t been overlooked, but there was a bit of confusion as to whether we were doing them or not.
These tracks were for the promotional material for a Mumford and Sons’ style outfit and were relatively simple apart from one minor issue…
They were originally recorded on double bass and the video clearly showed a guy playing these tunes on one! I am not really an upright bass player (at the moment), and don’t own one – but (!) I do own an amazing substitute!
Behold, the Roscoe fretless five string bass!
This bass, made by the brilliant luthiers over at Roscoe Guitars in the U.S. of A. is just brilliant, and I cannot fault it! Another mention needs to be made for the excellent pickups that Bartolini creates. I am so happy with the way these sound.
The bass recorded really well, producing a very clean signal, with no noise and plenty of fretless tones to choose from. It is both a producer’s and a bass player’s dream.
I recorded the upright tracks with this bass with producer/engineer James Ivey adding some EQ on his marvellous analogue desk (see pictures). The result was a lovely warm, clear and rich tone that proved to be pretty convincing! I know there is really no substitute for the real thing, but for a much smaller instrument with a completely different design/no f-holes/no sound chamber et cetera, this did remarkably well!
Anyway, I had a great time hanging and recording with the guys, even though the preparation for it was pretty stressful! Next time, we have agreed to record something just for fun.
The following is a bit of a ramble about a few of the functions I’ve done of late. Other gigs like jazz gigs/jams etc. aren’t in this post, but I will put more up about those soon.
This Saturday just gone (2oth May) I was in Sheffield with a band called The Ushers, with whom I really enjoy working. It’s a nice hang and they choose some great tunes that I’m not used to playing at weddings. I know it’s cheesy and all, but I enjoyed playing ‘Dancing on the ceiling’ and ‘Nothing’s gonna stop us now’ as it was refreshing to do some (slightly) more complicated stuff harmonically/structurally.
I don’t know why, but I get a kick out of performing tunes that have more convoluted forms to them, with lots happening. To me, it feels really positive when I know that I’ve played everything as close to the record as possible, or at least have given it a really good go, especially when the song is a bit more of a challenge. This is why accurately charting out tunes helps me as I find it tricky to memorise everything, due to my gigs mostly being dep work and there being different repertoires needed for different gigs.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the time to properly transcribe some of the set. I did however, write myself out some cheat sheets which are extremelyuseful.
I think it’s best to do this style of transcription when you are pushed for time or have lots of tunes to learn. It’s invaluable to have accurate structures written down too.
The gig was great fun! We played in the heart of Sheffield at the Millenium Gallery and there were some great moments.
The previous Saturday (13th May), I was in Kingston-upon-Thames in a wedding venue with the narrowest stage door I’ve ever seen. It was tricky to get some of the gear in! Apart from that it was another really lovely gig, with some friends, and some new people I hadn’t met before (one of whom has given me eight more dates to put in the diary, which was nice).
The onstage sound was great! I could hear my rig perfectly. It makes the gig that much better when you can properly hear yourself.
The Sunday before that I was with one of my good friend’s, Chris Pusey, and his band The Vibrations. This was the one that I used those transcriptions of ‘Wake me up before you go-go’ and ‘…baby one more time’ for and I’m so glad I did. The rest of the band were completely on it and were tight as anything, so I had to make sure I was too.
Hidden deep in the countryside, this charming old mill had a waterfall outside which created a lovely ambience. I love countryside gigs.
It’s been a pretty busy month. It’s been a lot of fun doing these gigs and I’m looking forward to the summer where there’ll be a load more!
Due to having quite a few functions coming up where I will be standing in for somebody else, I have decided to try and get really quick at transcribing pop tunes. This is because I can use the chart on the night of the gig and aim to play the song as accurately as possible to the original recording. Check out this great video from Adam Neely who talks about this exercise and how to get quicker at it.
Some of my students have asked which software I use to transcribe. I’m using the really rather good Musescore which is free and is, in my opinion, very easy to learn and use. I feel it needs saying at this point that I am really thankful to the developers at Musescore for creating such a comprehensive and substantial piece of software for free. If you can’t afford Sibelius, this is a great alternative! It’s available for PC, Mac and Linux and is well worth getting, I think.
Anyway, the following charts took me a while to do, so I thought rather than just myself benefiting from them, perhaps they can be of use to others. Please feel free to have a look and use them on gigs or at home. I have tried to be 99% accurate with it, but have made some movements towards trying to make things more readable, and using fewer pages/less whitespace. For example, I feel that certain fills or embellishments can sometimes be omitted if the rest of a section can be repeated without them and it doesn’t detract from the overall feel or harmonic movement of the line. In other words, if it’s not vital to the tune, it doesn’t always end up on the page. I feel it’s just a way of de-cluttering the notation and making sure we don’t have to turn pages too often. If anyone spots any errors, please get in touch and I will try to correct them. I intend to do more pop charts so stay tuned!
I’m very excited to share with you, my new website!
Here you’ll find information about me and my musical endeavours. At the moment, this website is still under construction, so please bear with me. 🙂
I endeavour to keep a blog about music related things throughout the year in order to share some interesting stories and other cool things.
I’m currently available for gigging, recording and teaching work for limited dates in 2017. This year is stacking up to be very busy! Please get in contact via benhearn @ hotmail .co.uk (delete spaces).