Morphine transcriptions.

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"Empty box" by Mark Sandman, as recorded by his band Morphine
This is an academic, but not exact note for note transcription in tablature form, for 2 string slide bass guitar, by James Möbius.

As of publication date, you can view this video at this url: you can also see the video embedded further down this page.

This is posted for music education purposes and the promotion of Morphine music only, no copyright infringement is intended. If you like this song enough to read this transcription and don't already own a legally obtained copy, please purchase one, you can find it on iTunes, or in record stores if there are any of those left. Transcript 2012. Song Mark Sandman 2012

Tuning: D A (the "standard") Slide bass played with a pick, and a metal slide, for best effect. Note: this is not a "dropped D" tuning below the low E string on a standard bass, but the open D string. If you don't own a 2 string bass, you can play this on a 4 or 5 using the 2 highest strings, retune the G string up to an A, you will find the action too low to use a slide without fret buzz, to solve this problem some people dedicate an old 4 string bass for slide, moving the D and G strings to the center position and installing something to raise the nut 1/4". I made my own 2 string slide bass from scratch, you can see that project on this page: the Bat Bass
/ = slide up \ = slide down
LR= let ring (out)

This song has basically just 2 parts for the bassline, and relies on dynamic volume changes to differentiate the sections, and keep it interesting, there's a verse, and the turn-around hook, which live Mark would sing syllaballicly, "wo-oo-woah..." and on the studio version it sounds like a cello or other bass instrument may be playing that line, but I'm going to tab it out anyway since it's fun to play. I find this song tricky since there's a spoken word segment, I find singing easier while playing bass (which is tricky enough) than talking but I'm working on it. I'm not going to format this the exhaustive way I did my first 3 or 4 tabs, lyrics are below, and video, if it's still up on u-toob will be below that. There's an interesting alternate/early version of this song as well, I prefer the more developed final studio release though, but always enjoy alternate versions of great songs.

main groove




Tore open a package it was an empty box
No meaning to me just an empty box
Sender was a woman
Sender was a woman
She said she's sending me everything that I, I, I never gave her, before
She said fill it up and send it back
Fill it up and send it back
So I sent her back an empty box
A big mistake sent back an empty box
Half in the shadows half in the husky moonlight
And half insane just a sound...

I crossed into a valley a valley so dark
That when I look back I can't see where I began
I can't see my hands, I don't even know if my eyes are open
In the morning I was by the sea
And I swam out as far as I could swim, Until I was too tired to swim anymore
And then I floated, and tried to get my strength back

And then an empty box came floating by
An empty box and I crawled inside
Half in the shadows half in the husky moonlight
And half insane just a sound in the night
Half in the shadows half in the husky moonlight
And half insane just a sound

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