Joaquin Murphey’s solo on Yearnin’ transcribed

Hi everyone! With all this excitement over the Joaquin Murphey solos book by John McGann and Andy Volk, which is sold here, I’ve got the itch to dive back in and do some more transcribing. I think there’s enough great Murph stuff to make another book or two, so, to test the waters, I decided to transcribe Joaquin’s solo on Yearnin’, one which I feel is up there with his finest.

I will continue to add commentary to this post as I uncover significant points with regards to the execution and thinking in this solo. The solo begins at 0:40 (don’t mind the Tae-Bo, although it is rather entertaining and a reminder of another failed American trend).

What I like right off the bat is the subtle introduction of the V7+ in the first measure–that is Joaquin’s bread and butter (V7aug).

Another thing you will want to take into consideration is to find a very comfortable and stable, consistent way of playing across strings, such as in measures 1 and 2. I have tried many different ways, but I always end up coming back to what feels right to me. I think it is important to pick rather lightly and in a very controlled manner to get that fluidness in your lines. It is the same for saxophone players–the guys who blew a bit lighter could usually play faster and cleaner, but maybe lacked the tone slightly. Until John Coltrane came along and did the opposite. Maybe Joaquin is like Coltrane in that way, but I still think he picked lightly, but firmly and very controlled. I think looking at Jeremy Wakefield picking hand might be a good place to see how this is done. There are plenty of YouTube videos of him playing.

Yearnin' solo

Yearnin' solo