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Bass Transcription: Michael League’s “Continuum”

Bass Transcription: Michael League’s “Continuum”

Editor’s note: Please help us welcome Thomas Milacher as a guest contributor to No Treble. Thomas is starting things off in epic fashion with this transcription.

“Continuum” is one of the most well known songs for bass players, and I’d argue it is one of the greatest tunes on Jaco Pastorius’s self-titled debut album. (I’d also argue it is one of the best albums, ever).

It is difficult to cover any Jaco song, and especially one with his signature fretless sound in full display. Most of the people who dare to cover one of his songs always try to sound like he does, which is nearly impossible. I think it is fair to say few – if any – is able to copy him perfectly.

I’m a huge Snarky Puppy fan, and I was looking for videos and recordings of Michael League performing with other bands. I stumbled across this variation of “Continuum” with Michael as well as one of my favorite piano players – Cory Henry – on Fender Rhodes and Nathaniel Townsley on drums. This video appeared on No Treble about two years ago.

After listening to it three times in a row, I decided to transcribe it. Michael definitely impressed me with his melodic playing, and his unique approach to making the song his own.

Now that I’ve transcribed it, I can say that it is a pretty tough one – both transcribing and playing – but it was worth every minute of my time.

When I am transcribing a song, I always transcribe and learn the tune at the same time. I think that I am able to benefit more according to this procedure.

On this one, Michael is laying down some tight grooves, plays a beautiful intro, shows us how to vary a theme, nails down a tremendous solo and, last but not least, he shows us some of the best bass faces ever.

Studying this transcription will make every bassist a little bit better, in my opinion.

I provided one version in standard notation for those who want to challenge themselves with reading sheet music and another version including the tab. If you do not want to learn the whole transcription, he has some great licks and fills that you can study in detail, you will have some great new material for your next solo. Download the transcription and follow along with the video below.

Last of all, I wish you a lot of fun and good luck, and I hope you enjoy my transcription.

If you have any special wishes for what I should transcribe next, please drop me a note in the comments below.

Download the transcription (PDF, with standard notation and tab).