Fundamental Affirmation

III. Tales From Topographic Oceans

In 1973, Yes released Tales From Topographic Oceans, as far as I know the largest-scale work that any rock band has ever produced. On this double LP, each side contained a single movement approximately twenty minutes long: "The Revealing Science of God", "The Remembering", "The Ancient", and "Ritual". Distilling this massive work into a short suite for electric bass might seem like an impossible task, yet there's a precedent: Yes guitarist Steve Howe did it for guitar and voice on his 1994 solo album Not Necessarily Acoustic.

Naturally, there's only so much of the original I could translate onto the bass: my rendering clocks in not at eighty minutes but around fifteen (which is still almost 300 measures in the sheet music). In the spirit of a Baroque courante, I have elected to include some of the most majestic sections and I take them at a fairly slow tempo. As with the Yes recording, the piece begins and ends with almost a whisper, punctuated with more energetic playing in "The Ancient" (a bass arrangement of Steve Howe's beautiful guitar part before "Leaves of Green") and "Ritual" (which in concert Chris Squire often used as an occasion for an extended bass solo). We end with the gorgeous theme "Nous Sommes Du Soleil" from the very end of the album.


Peter Saint-Andre > Music > Yes