Bass Transcription of Magdalene – Lenny Kravitz

Magdalene is my all-time favourite song from Kravitz. It was released in 1995 on the album Circus. When I started playing bass, I could not find the transcription anywhere. A few years later, it became one of the first songs I transcribed.

Lenny Kravitz in 1995. Simon Ritter/Redferns/Getty.

The song is not very hard to play, but it contains lots of subtle variations which makes it hard to remember. The best way to play it accurately is to get the transcription and annotate it to highlight the variations that are hard to remember. The transcription looks like this:

You can download the transcription here. If you prefer the version with the tablature, you can get it here.

A few noteworthy things I’ve noticed while transcribing it:

The song starts with an anacrusis; the drums kick-off a quaver before the first downbeat. It gives it a nice punchy start.

The chord progression does not sound familiar (unlike the numerous I-V-vi-IV pop songs).

There are syncopations everywhere! The bass (and the guitar) always hits a quarter note before the downbeat. I guess that’s what makes this song groove so much.

The chorus is 10-bars long, which is kind of unusual, as a chorus length is generally a multiple of 4 in pop music.