Thursday 2 August 2018

Darling Dear - Jackson 5 (1970)

Hi all,

So recently I decided to go through some of the oldest posts on the blog and update the videos. Well.. as this was my first analysis (way back in 2012!) I decided to give the whole thing an overhaul. It's such a great track, and a firm favourite amongst bass players, so I felt it deserved a little more detail than the original post contained.

This track is classic Jamerson - often cited (alongside 'For Once In My Life') as one of his all time greatest bass lines. It's a challenging piece, with very little repetition of phrases and some tricky rhythmic elements. If you haven't worked through this piece before then do yourself a favour, get 'Standing In The Shadows Of Motown' (link on the right) and just get playing!

As with all of my posts, the goal here is to demystify Jamerson's playing and figure out what exactly is going on. Even with a line as complex and challenging as this one, when you break down his note choices it's reassuringly simple - chord tones, chromatic runs, open string skips, syncopation.... nothing crazy going on here at all and within reach of all of us.

Anyway, enough from me. I've chosen a handful of extracts from this transcription to analyse below, and as always there is a cover video at the bottom. If you like this content then subscribe on YouTube, message me on this blog, book a Skype lesson etc.... It's great to hear from you.



The intro to this track sees Jamerson use some heavy chromaticism, running up to an F and back down to a D. Rhythmically the emphasis is always on the downbeat at the start of the bar, but throughout the intro he begins to rhythmically develop his line, using some syncopated phrases to create a really nice bouncing feel before chromatically ascending / descending again. This rhythmic development creates a feeling of forward motion - building up throughout the section and into the verse.

Verse 1

This first verse is one of my favourite sections of the whole piece. Using the root, minor seven and fifth over the Cm9 chord, he creates this really strong, grooving phrase that transitions down to an F via a chromatic open E right at the end of the bar. Over the Eb/F he climbs up through the chord using mostly scale tones (root, fourth, major third, fifth and sixth), with the exception of a little minor seven / major seven movement towards the end of the bar. Straight away we are hit with some strong syncopation - with notes often stretching over beat transitions (for example in bar two we have an A tied between beat one and two, a C between two and three etc...) which is a rhythmic concept that extends throughout this piece.

It's quite remarkable that within only a couple of bars Jamerson's line has ranged all the way from a low E, grooving up and down the octaves all the way up to a high Bb in bar three. Over this Bbmaj7, he plays the root note in semiquavers for the entirety of beat one, before moving down to the major third, fourth and fifth, again employing some heavy syncopation. Using A as a passing note on to the next bar, Jamerson outlines the triad, a touch of chromaticism (the E natural) before playing this driving line based mostly around the chromatic movement between A and Bb. By starting this bar on a low Bb, as opposed to a high Bb in the previous bar, he creates a completely different feel, rhythmically and sonically, despite playing over the same chord for those two bars.

Chorus 1

Over the Dm7, Jamerson plays this really cool phrase the ascends all the way up the octave, employing some use of chromatic passing notes (namely the G# and C#) before using a C# to descend chromatically down the the C natural in bar two. His rhythmic choices in the first bar are great, with the dead note at the end of the bar helping establish a solid syncopated feel. The walk down from C in bar two is largely based around fourth, fifth and minor third - outlining the chord beautifully. Flicking between the C, Bb and G at the end of bar two not only grooves well, but harks back to his phrase at the start of the first verse - a nice moment. A quick open A chromatically bridges to the Bb in bar three. Over the Bb, he plays a line with a very chromatic feel (particularly the use of the diminished fifth and perfect fifth), with his rhythmic choices adding a sense of urgency and build -  really driving the song forwards. Over the F in bar four of the chorus, Jamerson decides to leave much more space - stripping back the busy, syncopated playing from the previous bars in favour of just letting a low F hang for a moment - before quickly jumping up an octave and descending down chromatically towards the next bar.

Bridge - A Lesson In How To Use Chromaticism

By now we are familiar with Jamerson's rhythmic feel for this track, and we can see some similarities between the first bars of the bridge and verse. A quick use of the major third (note this is over a Cm7) adds tension but is quickly resolved, and Jamerson plays mostly chromatic movements based around the fourth and fifth. It's worth having a look here at Jamerson's use of varying note length when using chromatic passing phrases. Whenever he plays a quaver it is always on a 'strong' note - in this case either the root or fifth of the chord. All of the chromatic phrases that tie together these chord tones are semiquavers. He is careful not to hang too long on a 'wrong note', and always resolves these moments of tension by returning to a much stronger chord tone. Our only exception is right at the end of the first bar, but even here this low E soon resolves to an F in the next bar. A similar use of this concept can be seen in bar three, where Jamerson puts a strong emphasis on the A (the major third) and C (the fifth), with passing notes used in between. When using chromatic passing phrases such as this, you can get away with playing notes that fall outside of the chord as long as the the pull of the ascending or descending chromatic phrase is strong enough. Some of the ways we can ensure our chromatic phrases don't sound 'wrong' is by playing them quickly and using them to bridge between strong chord tones - just as Jamerson does all the time!

Last two bars of the Bridge

I just wanted to quickly mention the last two bars of the bridge. In the first bar, Jamerson keeps it simple, both rhythmically and with his choice of notes - using mainly roots and fifths. The line he plays over the Gm7 however it a classic example of how Jamerson can play something relatively simple, but still extremely effective. Through the climb he plays mainly scale tones, tied together with moments of chromaticism (particularly towards the end), and again manages to smoothly ascend right up the bass from a low G to a high C# passing tone to the D in the next bar.

Chorus 2

Over the Dm7 chord, Jamerson flicks between the root, major seven and minor seven, before skipping down the fourth, chromatic flat second and root of the chord. By jumping to a octave D at the end, he can lead easily into the C of the next bar. After outlining the chord with the root, fifth and major third, he uses a chromatic walk down to the Bb. The semiquaver - quaver - semiquaver rhythm  that he uses over the Bbmaj7 is very common in many of his lines. Over the F he skips up the arpeggio, before using a chromatic walk down to the next chord. Again we see him bridging together simple and strong arpeggio based phrases with chromatic runs, allowing his to quickly jump up and down the octaves whilst keeping the line smooth and funky.

Verse 2

This is such a cool little phrase that I had to include it. This phrase always really sticks out, ascending nice and high before coming back down using the same rhythmic syncopation that we have come to expect in this track. In terms of note choice it's very arpeggio based - again using the root, minor third, fifth and minor seven to outline the chord, before ascending chromatically to the next chord.

Ending Vamp - Changing Up The Register

This is a great example of how Jamerson can approach the same chord progression in a fresh and exciting way each time. Keeping the note choices similar but altering the register in which he plays, he dances up and down the octaves and completely changes the feel of each two bar phrase. Both sets of two bars have a very similar rhythmic approach, but you can see how we begin on a low Bb in bar one, and then up an octave for bar three. This is really great technique which you can apply to your own playing - just some slight variations in register can really change the whole feel of a passage, and playing a very similar phrase in a couple of different places on the bass can create a completely different sonic characteristic.


  1. Very nice playing and excellent cover of Jamerson's brilliant composition.

  2. Nice work, Chris! Hope to see more.


  3. Great, thanks!
    I have found another one :)