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First, an apology. As with any genre-centric lesson, this abstraction of body guitar (and bass) of the 1960s will regrettably exclude added than it includes. Nevertheless, by apperception on a few key players—in this case the flat stalwarts at Stax, the Muscle Shoals accent section, and Motown’s “Funk Brothers”—we’ll see how these innovators afflicted endless added musicians and accurate the complete of body music.
Even with a narrowed focus, it’s still difficult to apperceive area to activate with body music, so why don’t we aboriginal jump in on some music theory, patterns, and basal fretboard shapes and fingerings that arise up time and time again.
Below are the capital shapes you’re activity to appetite to get beneath your fingers, which are the assorted accord inversions (shown actuality in the key of G) that action on the guitar’s top three strings. Ex. 1 shows a arrangement of diatonic triads with their roots on the 1st string. The triads in Ex. 2 accept their roots on the 2nd string, and the roots are on the third cord in Ex. 3.
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Practically every archetype in this assignment will use some aberration of these shapes, so convenance them both the way they are apparent here, as able-bodied as one ambit at a time in altered inversions on altered frets (Ex. 4). Also, don’t balloon the horn keys like F and Bb!
The Body Men of StaxAlso accepted as “Soulsville U.S.A.,” Stax Records, in Memphis, Tennessee, is amenable for dozens of body hits, including Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour” and Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” as able-bodied as hundreds of abysmal cuts. And it was primarily the label’s abode band, which was additionally accepted as Booker T. and the M.G.’s, that recorded best of these archetypal tracks. Our adventure will activate with two of the M.G.’s—guitarist Steve Cropper and bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn.
An etude in the appearance of the Sam and Dave song “Soul Man,” the addition to Ex. 5 begins with a aberration of our accord shapes, area we bead the average agenda and end up with a candied aural sixth. The appellation “sixth” comes from the actuality that the two actual addendum are six calibration degrees afar from anniversary other. These sixth intervals arise time and afresh in Stax’s (and added soul) recordings.
Interestingly, the abutting sixth appearance (measure 3) appears to accommodate to an Am triad, but the bass is arena a F note, appropriately authoritative the all-embracing accentuation that of F major. This is because a two-note guitar lick can be harmonized in several altered ways, depending on what addendum the bass plays, and this would be beneath acceptable if we played the abounding triad. To get that authentic, bluesy Stax sound, it’s acute to accelerate into all of these shapes.
After the intro, the guitar in Ex. 5 performs an active adroit canal application aloof the G and Am triads from the Ex. 1. And pay absorption to the adroit “chokes,” notated with an X, that are capital to the overall, active intensity.
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The bass in Ex. 5 bliss off the addition with a auto byword added affiliated to the horns than the bass in “Soul Man” (there is absolutely no bass in the addition of that song). Nevertheless, it works able-bodied for our purpose. After the intro, the bass in the ballad gets active arena a accent that’s actual agnate to the aboriginal “Soul Man.”
Respect Those Double-Stops!Another signature complete is the hammered-on double-stop (also alleged a dyad), which already afresh is acquired from our basal accord shapes. In Ex. 6, the bass reharmonizes our shapes as D, C, Bm, and Am, but in the verse, they are artlessly G to C.
Regarding the rhythm, be abiding to comedy the ballad with a short, sharp, staccato attack—this is quintessential Steve Cropper. You’ll apprehend these licks on a countless of Stax recordings (not to acknowledgment Jimi Hendrix records—just assay out the abandoned on “The Wind Cries Mary”).
The bass plays it almost beeline in the addition but afresh switches to a archetypal triad-arpeggio line, in which the bass outlines the addendum of both G and C triads. This byword is actual agnate to the band that Dunn played on Otis’ adaptation of “Respect” and that George Harrison adopted for the Beatles’ “Drive My Car.” (It’s true, attending it up!)
The Muscle Shoals Accent SectionWhen talking about the Muscle Shoals accent section, it is at times difficult to apperceive absolutely who is arena what on any accustomed track. Although guitar and bass duties were best frequently assigned to Jimmy Johnson and David Hood respectively, musicians Chips Moman and Tommy Cogbill additionally contributed to abounding of the battleground recordings of Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, and Etta James. (And admitting not an official affiliate of the Muscles Shoals Accent Section, Duane Allman additionally played guitar on several recordings by the above vocalists.)
Land of a Thousand SixthsEx. 7 is an etude based on Wilson Pickett’s recording of “Land of a Thousand Dances,” and actuality arise those sixths again! This allotment ability assume simple enough, as the guitar is alone sliding one appearance aback and alternating amid the 5th and 3rd frets, but pay abutting attention: Every admeasurement has a altered rhythm. These slight adroit variations, which you can mix up throughout, accumulate the song from accepting too repetitive. The bass plays a blue bright line, culminating with a distinctive, awful syncopated, James Brown-esque turnaround.
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Soul SerenadeEx. 8 is a 12/8 drag based on Aretha Franklin’s recording of “Soul Serenade,” with the added third ambit of horns, or in this case, horn genitalia played on guitar. Horns are so capital to the complete of body music that arguably this absolute assignment could accept been based on horns, rather than guitar. And aback I’ve brought it up, we ability as able-bodied altercate this horn allotment first. What we accept are three simple shapes all played on downbeats, bushing in the gaps larboard by the absence of the guitar. This is key to soul-style arrangements—a abode for aggregate and aggregate in its place.
With the horns accounted for, we can see that the guitar in Ex. 8 is aback to our triads, catastrophe with sliding fourths, which additionally arise from the accord shapes. The bass is the best capital allotment of this song. Alike admitting the ambit progression is alone Bb to Eb, the bass manages to ample out the complete by arpeggiating through the chords while abacus some added calibration degrees.
MotownFinally, no body guitar assignment would be complete after a attending at the Funk Brothers, the musicians who recorded best of the music for Motown in the 1960s. By far the best acclaimed Funk Brother is bassist James Jamerson, and I awful acclaim you assay out the book Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Allegorical Bassist James Jamerson for a abundant history of Jamerson and his best acclaimed bass lines. In the meantime, we’ll attending at some etudes in the Jamerson style, as able-bodied as his guitarist cohorts.
I Second That Guitar LickSomehow James Jamerson had a adroitness for arena a lot of addendum after anytime accepting in the way of the guitars, horns, or vocals. One detail that ability annual for this is Jamerson’s tone, which, alike for a bass, is absolutely dark. We feel Jamerson’s bass as abundant as we apprehend it. This accent of low abundance EQ is article to accumulate in apperception back battling Motown recordings, as in Ex. 9, which demonstrates a artlessly active Jamerson line, à la Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ “I Second That Emotion.” What is best abnormal about this archetype is the actuality that the guitar part, in the appearance of Marv Tarplin, is additionally absolutely busy. Normally, the busier the bass, the sparser the guitar, but not this time. Already again, triads, thirds, slides, and hammer-ons all comedy a above role, but we additionally see a sly single-note byword that differentiates Tarplin’s arena from abounding of his contemporaries. Tarplin plays added single-note phrases, some of which complete like fingerpicking or amalgam picking. To see what I mean, assay out “Tracks of My Tears” and “My Girl Has Gone.”
Hanging on (One Note)Ex. 10 provides us with addition Jamerson-esque bass line, as able-bodied as a acute Motown guitar technique: octaves. The guitar is in the appearance of the Supremes’ “You Accumulate Me Hanging on” (featuring Jamerson on bass and Robert White on guitar), and plays a almost complex, staccato, Morse-code pattern, on octave D pitches throughout. Meanwhile, the bass outlines a array of altered basis and 5 ambit tones, with a few casual tones for color, that accompaniment the changeless D pitches in the guitar.
Ball of ConfusionIt’s account advertence that it’s actual accessible to abash the musicians from, and songs recorded by, Stax, the Muscle Shoals accent section, and Motown. Abounding articulate artists from the time, such as Wilson Pickett, the Staple Singers, and William Bell, recorded at Stax and in Muscles Shoals and had annal advancing out beneath the Stax/Volt banner and/or Atlantic Records, as able-bodied as added abate labels. Motown adds to the abashing as they had several accessory labels such as Tamla, Gordy, and alike one alleged Soul—that complicate the history of body in the 1960s.
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Perhaps the best archetype apropos the abashing of “who played what?” is the song “Respect,” which was accounting and aboriginal recorded by Otis Redding at Stax, in 1965. Two years after Aretha Franklin recorded what abounding accede to be the absolute adaptation of “Respect” at Atlantic studios in New York City, application associates of the Muscle Shoals accent area and her touring guitarist, the allegorical Cornell Dupree, for that track. And one year after Motown appear The Aboriginal Soundtrack From TCB by Diana Ross and the Supremes with the Temptations, featuring a third adaptation of “Respect.” Yes indeed, one can be forgiven for accepting circuitous up in this brawl of confusion.
Ain’t No Assignment Long EnoughParadoxically, this assignment is far too abbreviate … but arguably all you need. If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve apparent that abundant of the signature complete of body is congenital from a few basal ideas, which get mutated and ornamented. Use these examples, decidedly Ex. 1-4, as starting points, and afresh go accept to the aboriginal recordings of the songs mentioned throughout this lesson. And remember, as abundant as the notation, theory, and assay can advice you get started, body music is absolutely aloof that—music from the soul—and tablature and words begin on the internet almost authorize as either.
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