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Ants Marching

By: Dave Matthews Band

Transcribed by: Justin Marks

rjm46@columbia.edu

 

TAB NOTES: Be careful, as many nuances still exist, especially during the chorus. The fills that I tabbed are only estimates (at least, the first one and the last one are). Stefan also changes them both times they play the chorus, in that the first time he plays them very softly, and the second time he plays a little harder. Also, lately hes been doing a gratuitous slide up after the first G of the verse. You can hear it on the L@RR album. Speaking of that, for those of you who want to learn the little duet at the beginning, read to the bottom of this article, where I will discuss that part in depth. ANALYSIS: Here is the bass part for what is arguably DMB's most famous song. Stefan is his most active self in this, as he follows the bottom of the guitar part so loyally that it just creates a thrust that is essential to the feeling of the song. Too much analysis of this part would actually be more due for the guitar part, since the bass is so close. But there are small parts worth looking at... Verse: Again, just like the guitar. Note how Stefan goes down to the low G as Matthews' guitar part climaxes on the higher octave. This just adds a little more low end with the bass drum kick. Bridge: Ah, as we discussed in Don't Drink the Water, here we see Stefan again sliding melodically behind the vocals, descending the D-major scale underneath the vocal descent. This strikes an interesting contrast to 41, in that there Lessard descended while Matthews ascended. Here, they stay together, and the bass acts as the glue between the vocals and the space that they fill. Chorus: In terms of Lessard's melodic approach, the fills are very definitive, since they really express an unconventional style of phrasing and singing. Listen especially to the second fill on that phrase. You can really only hear it the second time they play the chorus, but when you listen for it, it comes through very clearly. Excellent contrast to the last fill. That is what is so interesting, as not only do the fills answer the other instruments' parts, they answer each other as well. GUITAR/BASS DUET: However, this is also, sadly, a song in which we need to discuss some faults in Lessards playing. Now, granted that he's still an amazing bassist, there exist critical errors in his playing. A fair analysis of every bass part would not be complete without some criticism. Okay, here is the tab for those interested: G------------------ D--5h7-5-4--------- A----------5------- E------------5-3-2- G------7-----7-----7=12-11- D--7h9---7h9---7h9--------- A-------------------------- E-------------------------- G--------11----12-11-14-12-16- D--11h12----14---------------- A----------------------------- E----------------------------- These are the first three fills that he does, then going back to the first fill as a groove. The reason I do not tab the rest is because none of the other fills are solid. Instead, they represent lazy technique and sloppy style that lose any sense of time and melody. Instead, his fills become incoherent, rambling nonsense. Lessard has this same problem during his earlier All Along the Watchtower solos. All he does is makes a lot of noise on the instrument, which severly undermines his talent and loses any musical merit whatsoever. But Ants Marching is a great song, anyway, and in terms of how a Stefan Lessard bass line is defined, this song truly has elements of everything. Also, it is becoming frequently covered by other musicians, so a bass part like this would be helpful for any bassist to have underneath his belt. Enjoy. Next song discussed will be So Much to Say, another pop favorite that follows the guitar part just like Ants Marching does, although involving other rhythmic styles as well.

 

4-string tablature:

 

 

Verse:

 

G--------------------------------------

D--------4-----4-----------5-5-7-7-7---

A--5-4=5---4=5---4=5---4=5-----------5-

E--------------------3-----------------

 

Walk-up:

 

G------------------4---4-5-4-6-7-

D----4-5-4-5-7-5-7---7-----------

A--7-----------------------------

E--------------------------------

 

Bridge:

 

G---------------------------------------------------------

D---------------------------------------------------------

A--2-5---2-0-17=16-16=14-14=12-12=10-10=9-9=7-7=5-5h7-2-5-

E------3--------------------------------------------------

 

G----------

D----------

A----2-0-5-

E--3-------

 

Chorus:

 

G----------------------------11-11---9-9------------------

D------------------0h2-------------9-----9------------7---

A--------------0h2-------------------------10-------9---9-

E--3-2-0-0h2h3---------3-2-0------------------3-2-0-------

 

G------------------------------

D--7---7-------------------0h2-

A----9---9-------------0h2-----

E----------3-2-0-0h2h3---------

 

Chorus outtro (last time only):

 

G----------------------------------------

D----7-----5-----4---4---4---------------

A----------------------------2-5---2-0-5-

E--5---5-3---3-2---2---2---2-----3-------

 

 

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