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Ron Carter

Ron Carter: 9 Transcriptions Every Bass Player Should Study

Ron Carter: 9 Transcriptions Every Bass Player Should Study

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About the 9 Transcriptions

I am often asked about my bass lines and about the value of studying them. As is often the case in jazz, they can be made up on the spot, during the performance, as a spontaneous creation based on what that particular group of musicians was doing at that particular moment. Studying them as a way to be able to repeat them isn’t helpful because that particular musical moment happened only once, and you will never find yourself in that same moment.

However, studying transcriptions is a valuable tool and essential in learning how to build your own unique bass lines. The transcriptions in this book aren’t just enjoyable to study. They are invaluable tools in every bassist’s education.

How to Get the Most Out of this Book

To get the most out of this book, analyze these bass lines with this in mind:

1. Why they are so effective - both in the choice of rhythms and the choice of notes.

2. Find the rhythmic sequences (patterns) and notice how often they occur, where they occur, and the effect that they have on the pulse of the line.

3. Take a look at the note choices to find the repetition of certain groups of notes and how the repetition of these groups of notes colors the harmony of the song. Perhaps they also are beacons that are used to outline certain parts and forms of the song.

-Ron Carter

About Ron Carter 

Ron Carter is among the most original, prolific, and influential bassists in jazz. He has recorded over 2200 albums and has a Guinness world record to prove it!

In JazzFrom 1963 to 1968, he was a member of the acclaimed Miles Davis Quintet. Over his 60-year career, he has recorded with so many of the jazz greats: Lena Horne, Bill Evans, B.B. King, Dexter Gordon, Wes Montgomery, Bobby Timmons, Eric Dolphy, Cannonball Adderley, and Jaki Byard, to name a few. He can be heard on many iconic jazz records of the '60s and '70 such as Speak No Evil, Maiden Voyage, Red Clay, Speak Like a Child, Nefertiti, and Miles Smiles, to name a few.

In other genres

After leaving the quintet, he embarked on a prolific 50-year freelance career that spanned vastly different music genres and continues to this day. He recorded with Roberta Flack, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Bette Midler, and Aretha Franklin, appeared on the seminal hip-hop album The Low End Theory with a Tribe Called Quest, wrote and recorded pieces for string quartets and Bach chorales for 2-8 basses and accompanied Danny Simmons on a spoken word album.

As a leader

Carter continues to do worldwide tours with his various groups. The Golden Striker Carter Trio, The Foursight quartet, the Ron Carter Nonet, and Ron Carter’s Great Big Band. He has recorded multiple albums with his groups.

As an author

Carter shares his expertise in the series of books he authored, where he explains his creative process and teaches bassists of all levels to improve their skills and develop their own unique sound.

His books share a unique feature he pioneered, that of including QR codes in every book that lead to additional material, enriching the text and making each book that much more valuable.

He also penned his autobiography “Finding the Right Notes,” which is available in print and e-book and also as an audiobook read by the Maestro himself.

As a teacher

Carter has lectured, conducted, and performed at clinics and master classes, instructing jazz ensembles and teaching the business of music at numerous universities. He was Artistic Director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Studies while it was located in Boston, and after 18 years on the faculty of the Music Department of The City College of New York, he is now a Distinguished Professor Emeritus.  He also taught at the Juilliard School and at the Manhattan School of Music.

In film scoring

 In addition to scoring and arranging music for many films, including some projects for Public Broadcasting System, Carter composed music for A Gathering of Old Men, starring Lou Gosset Jr., The Passion of Beatrice, directed by Bertrand Tavernier, and Blind Faith starring Courtney B. Vance.

Film appearances

In 2022 PBS premiered the full-length feature film documentary of Carter's Live and Legend "Finding the Right Notes.  Many jazz documentaries feature the Maestro because of his indelible contribution to the genre, including Ken Burns' Jazz, “Birth of the Cool” about Miles Davis, "It Must Be Schwing," the story of the Blue Note, and many more. He also appeared as himself in HBO’s hit series “Treme” and was the bassist on soundtracks of Twin Peaks, Bird, and way too many others to mention.


Carter earned a bachelor of music degree from the Eastman School in Rochester and a master's degree in double bass from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. 

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