Bass Transcription: Fernando Lamadrid’s “Mollete Express”
Just as I was wondering which piece to select for this month’s transcription, along comes this killer track from super-talented bassist Fernando Lamadrid and drummer Rick Arencibia. This one has it all: harmonic-laden odd-time grooves, funky slap lines, chordal work and several jaw-dropping solos. Perfect!
Download the transcription (PDF) and follow along:
“Mollete Express” opens with a fingerstyle groove over the 7/8 time signature that is used for large parts of the track. An E minor tonality is established here, with the harmonic pitches of G and D serving as the minor third and seventh of the implied Em7 chord. This one-bar line is repeated four times for the Intro, then continued into the A section. A turnaround figure is played after four bars of the A section – a bar of C6/9 and a bar of Bbmaj7. As before, root notes are played on the E-string as pitched notes, while the harmonics provide colorful chord tones – the sixth (A) and ninth (D) of the C6/9 chord, and the major third (D) and major seventh (D) of the Bbmaj7 chord. After several repeats of this progression, the track moves into the B section, which features a slap groove. This is initiated with a quick “flam” of popped thirty second notes at the end of bar 18 – use your first and second fingers to pop these as indicated by the slap guides.
The slap groove at letter B is a hard-hitting, heavily syncopated part that is simpler to play than it sounds. Fernando outlines the basic implied Em7-Am7 progression using double stops: an E and a G (in bar 19) for the Em7 and a G and a C (following the tied A) for the Am7 chord. This line is complicated by the tie across the bar, making it far from simple to read. My advice is to loop the two-bar groove and listen to it several times – you will find that it soon begins to make sense and you should be able to play along. As a side note, I use this technique of looping sections both when learning a piece and when transcribing. It’s a great way of mastering difficult parts and I highly recommend it. If you haven’t already checked it out, Transcribe! software from Seventh String Software is a great tool for helping you out here.
Following repeats of both of the main sections, a fingerstyle groove is set up at letter D. This line follows the progression established in the slap section, so if you’ve mastered that groove you should have no problems with this one. Fernando fills in many of the gaps in the line here with ghost notes and adds simple minor pentatonic fills at the ends of many of the bars. There are some tasty fills to get your teeth into here, notably the cool upper register lick in bars 42 and 43. Note the use of bends here and in other parts of the line – these are half tone bends, meaning that the note (G in this case) should be bent upwards by half a tone, or a semitone. Doing so takes the minor third of the suggested Em7 tonality and raises it to the major third (G#), giving the line more of an E Mixolydian sound.
At letter E Rick Arencibia’s drum solo begins. This section of the song is confusing to listen to initially due to the clever patterns employed by Rick. Underpinning everything is Fernando’s repeating 7/8 chordal figure. Using implied chords of Emaj9, C7b13 and A7b13 Fernando creates a harmonic foundation for the drum solo (note that these chord names are very ambiguous due to the lack of chord tones played and the absence of any other pitched instruments).
At letter F the drum solo ends and the time signature changes to 4/4 – a welcome change after the heavy rhythmic work of the previous section. During this section Fernando plays a series of chordal figures using pitched notes and harmonics. This is one of the simpler sections of the piece to perform, although you’ll need to make sure you have a decent mid-boost in your tone in order to get the harmonics at the second and third frets (bars 67 and 68 for example) to sound clearly. This section indicates a Jaco Pastorius influence on Fernando – anyone that has studied Jaco’s work will recognize many of the harmonic chords used here.
At letter G Fernando begins a driving fingerstyle groove that uses some clever rhythmic shifts: in bar 86 the octave E can be considered the ‘target note’ for the phrase. This is followed by a ghost note, then a descending run of notes: E, D, B. This phrase five-note phrase is then repeated in a sixteenth note rhythm meaning that the target note continuously falls on different parts of the beat. In bar 88 another ‘target note’ is added, an F. This is separated from the E by a ghost note, then these three notes are followed by an open E and the three-note descending phrase. This creates a slightly longer phrase that is repeated several times, again falling on different parts of the beat. An F# is added in bar 90 and process is repeated. At bar 92 Fernando changes to a quaver triplet figure, but there is more rhythmic interest here: the phrases he plays are four-note groupings, but played as triplets! This is likely another Jaco influence, but is certainly another nice touch regardless of where the idea came from. This section of the tune ends with more harmonic chords.
At letter H there is a fingerstyle bass solo. This is a complex, bebop-infused part that features heavy syncopation alongside some unusual note choices – check out the use of the half step-whole-step diminished scale (E, F, G, G#, A#, B, C#, D, E) in the opening four bars. This scale creates a very distinctive sound that suggests Fernando is thinking of an altered dominant chord. This section of the song leads back into a repeat of some of the harmonic chord ideas used earlier.
At letter I the slap bass solo begins. This is a complex solo that employs some contemporary slapping techniques such as Victor Wooten’s open-hammer-pop (bars 136-139) and Marcus Miller’s legato sliding techniques (bars 132 and 133). The slap guides that are written throughout this section are what I believe Fernando played, although in some cases it is hard to be completely certain. The suggested thumbing/popping patterns are however the most logical for performing these parts. Note the use of a descending whole tone idea played with the open-hammer-pop technique at the climax of the solo (bars 144 – 145) – very cool.
The final sections of this piece are repeats of the first two main sections.
Good luck with this piece. It’s a monster for sure, but you’ll have a lot of fun learning it. There’s many years worth of material to study here and you’ll be a better bass player for doing so. As always, be sure to take the licks and ideas you learn here and use them to create your own ideas. Have fun!
Stuart Clayton writes for and runs Bassline Publishing, a small company who specialize in bass guitar tuition and transcription books. Check out basslinepublishing.com for more.