Drum Chart: “Spy” from Cowboy Bebop

Posted on June 18, 2023


Today I have another Cowboy Bebop drum chart to share: “Spy”, as featured in the third episode “Honky Tonk Woman”. Truth be told, this might be my last Cowboy Bebop chart — it’s currently the only one I’ve made that hasn’t been shared yet. I worked on a couple of tracks at once when I last watched the show back in 2021, but I wanted to spread out when I would post them. I’ll probably have to watch the show again to find more songs that are worth charting out. (Another source of charts would be the movie, which I haven’t seen in years.)

Today’s song “Spy” is a bit of a deep cut. Unlike the three previous songs I shared, this one isn’t from the really famous soundtrack album (the one with the black and red photo of Spike screaming). Rather, this tune is from the second LP, Vitaminless. Vitaminless was kind of an obscure release before all the albums got put onto the streaming sites (which only just happened in 2020).

(In case you were wondering, there are four soundtrack releases from the original TV show; two releases for the 2001 movie; a remix album; an EP; two compilations, including a boxed set; and finally, the soundtrack from Netflix’s live–action catastrophe. Before everything made it to streaming, I mused about owning all of them physically, minus the Netflix one. Good thing I don’t have to worry about that anymore!)

According to the Cowboy Bebop Wiki, Vitaminless is actually a “mini–album”… whatever that’s supposed to mean. Perhaps the mini–album is somewhere in between an EP and an LP. I don’t hear about mini–albums a lot; they seem to be a bigger part of the Asian music industry, especially in South Korea. Personally, I have a hard enough time drawing the line between EPs and LPs, and I don’t need mini–albums complicating things!

Moving onto the actual song, “Spy” has a few distinct sections. First is a trudging 12/8 shuffle groove driven by a thick, somewhat menacing bass line. This riff was probably inspired by Henry Mancini’s theme music to the old TV show Peter Gunn — a theme song that has been covered by everyone from The Blues Brothers to Emerson, Lake & Palmer. 

About a minute into the track, there’s an abrupt change to a heavy, loud, 4/4 swing feel. Although the tempo stays the same, the transition is still a bit of a curveball. In fact, when changing between 12/8 and 4/4, a tempo change (especially a metric modulation) can often make life easier!

This swing movement is probably the most interesting part to drum along to, thanks to some big ensemble figures. And afterward, we go right back into the 12/8 riff to finish out the song.

The chart is only one page long because “Spy” is actually quite a short track, barely 2 minutes in length. Sorry to have a paltry tune to share, but I’m quite burned out from the transcribing I’ve been doing lately. To make up for the length, I was tempted to turn this into a practice loop as I have done for some of my other charts.

But this tune isn’t much of a stamina builder, and it doesn’t really encourage improv, so that kind of spoils my motivation to introduce a practice loop. 

You might have noticed that I’ve gone back to using MuseJazz as a typeface for my big band charts. I’m not crazy about it, and complaints from the past still stand: some glyphs are missing like the em dash (—), there’s no bold font, and no true italics (instead there’s only a fake italic style, also known as oblique).

Despite my issues, I can’t seem to find a suitable handwritten typeface. Handwritten fonts in general should be avoided — it’s hard to find one that isn’t ugly, let alone finding one that balances well with the engraving style of these charts. Maybe someday…

I’m also using MuseScore’s new auto–numbering repeats feature. I really don’t like how you can’t adjust this text at all, but I’m sick of adding these numbers manually as I’ve had to do many times in the past. 

Download PDF.

“Spy” on Songwhip.

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