Adding slap to “power ballads”?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by EngrSorenson, Aug 4, 2022.


  1. So I pitch in on my church’s worship team from time to time and play those cheesy, I/V/vi/IV (and all variations there of), power ballads about God and just how swell we all think He is. I consider it an “opportunity” to test my mental fortitude and give the other bass player a well-deserved week off.

    I get to rehearsal tonight for Sunday, and we’re unexpectedly down a drummer and acoustic guitar player. I’m left with 2 singers and a pianist who objectively don’t have good steady beat. I felt helpless trying to keep one myself- the bass isn’t present enough (or no one listens) for them to lock in on it. The sad reality is that the people who play there are completely reliant on some kind of percussion… and that’s a little embarrassing.

    On my way home I start thinking about Larry Graham and how he used slap to help fill a hole left by drums. I’m not sure what I can come up with by Sunday, or even if it’s a good idea, but I figured I’d ask you guys what you thought.

    what do you think- can it be done without sounding like I’m over playing? I was testing some ideas out when I got home and nothing is jiving.
     
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  2. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Drum machine
     
  3. Ahhhh… I hear you… I just feel like that’s marginally better than a metronome. I take your point, however.
     
  4. J Wilson

    J Wilson

    Apr 22, 2022
    An Undisclosed Location
    none
    Don't. Just don't.

    Really poor players are like bad horses: You can whip them, but they're just whipped, bad horses, and you'll feel bad afterwards. This is where God is testing your faith !
     
    bassGtar and EngrSorenson like this.
  5. I suspect this is what I’m going to end up doing… just ride it out and not try to fix it.
     
  6. J Wilson

    J Wilson

    Apr 22, 2022
    An Undisclosed Location
    none
    Been there, done that: God love 'em, they mean well, but, you know . . . . well, you know. Sometimes playing with well-meaning civilians will just wear you down . . . . .
     
  7. Normally I thrive while playing with folks who aren’t super music savvy because I feel like playing in a band is a really helpful experience. It’s like my way of paying forward what the great players in my life did for me coming up. Unfortunately in this case I don’t think it’s just going to come together.

    I’ll grin and bear it.
     
  8. I’ve slapped in church, but with a drummer and sparingly during loud sections.
     
    EngrSorenson likes this.
  9. Mark Karwan

    Mark Karwan Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2019
    If the slapping would actually make (err, help) the others play in time, then heck yeah. I imagine what you’ll end up with is still wonky time+slapping, and you have to ask yourself if that’s an improvement.
     
  10. If the pulse of the song is driven by a kick/snare feel then trying to replicate that with slap or ghost notes might work. However, if the songs are left feeling more "loose" given the new lineup, it's more likely to sound out of place. Especially if the other players aren't going in with the mindset of "The bass is setting the tempo and I need to lock onto it and let it lead me."

    Personally I'd be thinking more about drifting with them, playing more open melodic ideas than trying to lash everyone to a tempo. More Jaco than Graham.
     
    EngrSorenson likes this.
  11. EatS1stBassist

    EatS1stBassist

    Apr 15, 2016
    So cal
    Just don’t over do it!
     
    EngrSorenson likes this.
  12. Is it just me, or does this feel like a confession? :roflmao:

    say 12 Slam Stewarts and 24 James Jamersons.
     
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  13. EatS1stBassist

    EatS1stBassist

    Apr 15, 2016
    So cal
    :laugh: Lol!
     
    EngrSorenson likes this.
  14. sean_on_bass

    sean_on_bass

    Dec 29, 2005
    USA
    I think the tone of slapping might be inappropriate for the song in this case. Instead, maybe try some ghost notes to help create more rhythmic density within each bar that the rest of the band can depend on. This assumes they are actually listening to you :) Some players just don't listen to the others on stage well enough to fall into it correctly.
     
    EatS1stBassist and EngrSorenson like this.

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