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●1 TWO-FEEL BASSLINE
Much of the Beatles’ earlier rock’n’roll-based material features McCartney playing a two-feel bassline. This is simply two notes to the bar, played on beats one and three; it’s a standard pattern that we generally associate today with country and folk music, and McCartney was quite happy to employ it on Rubber Soul where appropriate, Michelle being
one top example. Our exercise will help you get to grips with the kind of melodic approach that McCartney brought to Michelle and also to John Lennon’s song Girl.
●2 TRIAD PATTERN WITH GRACE NOTE
Rubber Soul’s opening salvo is fired by Drive My Car, which as well as featuring George Harrison playing in unison with McCartney in the verses (an idea they copied from the recently released Respect by Otis Redding)
also contains two elements that McCartney leant on heavily in many classic bass parts to come. Firstly, the root-third-fifth or triad pattern, which provides melodic colour. Secondly there’s the grace-note, represented
by note-head/number in miniature on stave and tablature, which provides a vocal-like ornamentation to the main note. Check out this compilation of these ideas, and note the funky 1/16th pickup in bar two.
●3 MELODY OVER CHORDS
If you’re looking for a piece of McCartney’s playing as evidence of his taste, feel and class, look no further than Michelle. It’s got it all, with carefully controlled note-lengths and a laid-back approach. He adds melody when required and invokes movement in the perfect places, skilfully mirroring the intensity of the vocal. McCartney was proud of the intro bass
melody over the descending chords, and justifiably so… no one, after all, had ever done this before in a rock context. Here’s an original line that tries to embrace the same feel.
●4 UP THE NECK
The Beatles were generally good at assimilating various influences and cleverly regurgitating them in a song that masked the inspiration behind it. However, with If I Needed Someone, it’s obvious that George Harrison had been listening to the Byrds, if only from his jangly arpeggiated guitar part. During the chord changes in the verse, McCartney plays a droning pedal bassline – aided and abetted by a capo – that ventures into the higher
registers. Below, we’ve sketched out a way in which you might supply bass to a chord sequence in a similar way. Note the neat trick in bar 2: the stem-up high B is played while sustaining the F# below it.
120 Guitar & Bass FEBRUARY 2012