Today’s a big day. I’ve just released three new books through Bassline Publishing: Advanced Studies for Bass Guitar,
Plectrum Technique for Bass Guitar, and Level 42 A Physical Presence Bass Transcriptions. The latter is a book that I first published back in 2006 but it’s one which people have consistently asked for ever since it went out of print a few years back. I’m asked a lot about my experiences in publishing, so I thought I’d use this first blog post to write about the process of reviving this book.
Back in 2001 I began publishing Level 42 transcription books. This started as a project that I worked on in my spare time whilst studying at Leeds College of Music and was something that my bass tutor encouraged me to pursue. Although I failed to convince any of the leading music publishers to release it, I was enthused by the response that came from them: many loved it (but considered it a few years too late), but all encouraged me to publish it independently since they felt that bass players would love it. They were right, and the small-scale success of this first book eventually led to the publication of four further volumes of Level 42 transcriptions (I’ll be talking more about my early experiences of transcribing and publishing in future blogs).
The fourth book in the series was released in 2006 and was a complete transcription of the live Level 42 album A Physical Presence. This was – and still is – one of my favourite albums and really showcases the original line-up of the group at their peak. After I’d finished writing the book I made contact with Mark King, who agreed to an interview to discuss his recollections of the concerts and the equipment he was using at the time. Obviously it was icing on the cake to include an interview with the man himself and this, combined with an interview with John Diggins (the luthier behind Mark’s JayDee basses) meant that the book was very well received by enthusiasts of Mark’s work with the band.
Over the next few years my career as a music teacher began to develop (I am Head of Bass Guitar at BIMM Bristol) and I began writing technique and theory tutorial books. The Level 42 books appeared to have had their day, so I reduced the range from five books to just two – The Mark King Bass Book, which featured all the instrumentals and some bass solos, and The Level 42 Bass Book, which included all the band’s best songs. However, after a few years, people began asking for the A Physical Presence book again. In 2014 I decided to rework the book in time for the London Bass Guitar Show in March 2015.
My first task was to revamp the presentation of the transcriptions extensively, removing extraneous page elements and allowing the music to be larger and clearer. This came as the result of several years of further experience with publishing and music notation, and I’m very pleased with the appearance of the scores in this edition. This process has meant that the book itself is quite a lot bigger than its predecessor (70 pages longer, and therefore more expensive to produce), but it looks fantastic.
I also reworked a lot of the transcriptions themselves. Although I was extremely pleased with their accuracy overall, I made a few corrections here and there and sought alternative ways to present certain parts, making them clearer and easier to read.
My final task was to write extensive performance notes for each song. I had done this on a limited basis in the previous volume, but decided to really enhance this element of the book this time around. Each track now has 1000 words accompanying it, offering advice on fingerings, approaches to difficult lines, as well as references to other notable performances of the songs. I also used the opportunity to write about some of the interesting non bass guitar related elements such as the rhythmic misdirection at the beginning of ‘Kansas City Milkman’. I spent a great deal of time on the performance notes for these pieces but feel that complexity of some of the music required detailed explanation.
I hope you enjoy this new edition of the book. I really enjoyed revisiting these great songs and refining their presentation here. If you’re one of the nice people who buys this book, please let me know what you think – I love to hear from customers and always reply.