Monday, November 07, 2016

Transcription: John Guerin - Backfence Cattin'

Here's some 70s funk in 3/4: Backfence Cattin' by Tom Scott, with John Guerin on drums. You could call Scott L.A.'s answer to Dave Sanborn— big in the 70s-80s, R&B saxophonists who made some popular instrumental albums and did a lot of commercial work. You could be forgiven for finding Scott to be the cheesier of the two. We love John Guerin unreservedly around here. He did a ton of studio work back in the 70s; I always identify him by his concert toms and his functional-but-modern style of playing.

The 3/4 meter is unusual for funk, and there's a rather complex mixed-meter section at the end of the head, with a repeating figure in a 5/8+5/8+3/8 phrase.

If you do nothing else with this transcription, count through the odd section. If you have trouble transitioning from the */4 meters to the */8 meters, before the 5/8 count the 3/4 in 6/8 (counting in 6, not the usual 2), and count the 5/4 and 4/4 in 10/8 and 8/8— just count 1-10 and 1-8 at 8th note speed. The 5/8 measures are phrased 2+3, playing off of dotted 8th notes on the 3 side— you could call it 4+3+3/16.

You could also learn the main groove— it's two measures long, with some fairly minor variations. Getting acquainted with it, I would at first ignore the open hihats and the more subtle dynamic markings. In my transcriptions I always notate more dynamics/articulations than are practical to actually worry about in playing the things.

A couple of minor style notes: I've noticed that Guerin likes to play the bass drum under his fills— usually 8th notes. Not strongly, but it's there, keeping the groove together. Another thing I've noticed with a lot of 70s funk/studio players, which we see here, is that on the big ensemble hits they'll often play the snare drum, bass drum, and cymbal in unison. It's not subtle, but it's obviously very effective for these players to be doing it.

Get the pdf

No comments: