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Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by SlapPopBass, Feb 22, 2014.

  1. For the past 2 months I have been constantly trying to get down teen town, with little to no avail. I am able to play along to slower tempos such 80bpm and 100 bpm, but for some unknown and immensely frustrating reason, when I try playing at the actual full speed, 128bpm, everything goes to bits. My hands freeze up; my right hand misses strings while my left cant fret the notes properly. Its become more and more infuriating, because I have a personal standard for myself being a player for 1.5 years, and this seems to be the only damn song I can't get right. I really want to get down this song, but it's seems the harder I try to the harder I f**k up. Any advice that can help me with this conundrum would be greatly appreciated. :(
  2. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    Keep practicing. You're doing great. Seriously.
  3. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    If you can play it ten times in a row without a mistake, speed it up to 104. When you can play it ten times in a row at 104, speed it up to 108. Etc.
  4. matthewbrown

    matthewbrown Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Harwich, MA, USA
    You may be trying to apply brute force where it won't make much headway. I suggest watching someone play it and shooting for economy of motion.
  5. dwjazz54


    Jan 21, 2003
    Jersey City, NJ

    You've only been playing a year and a half - may seem like a long time to you, but it ain't!

    As has been mentioned earlier, play it a few times cleanly at a tempo that's manageable, then progressively speed it up. I've been (and many others as well have been) playing a lot longer than you, and "Teen Town" still gives us fits - don't be discouraged!
  6. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    If you can't play it fast yet, work on getting it REALLY clean at slower tempos. That will do you more good as a player. Also look at other Jaco recordings like Come On, Come Over. Or River people. That should get you learning simpler examples of his phrasing. Jacos right hand coordination and delicacy was incredible, so don't expect to get it right away. Even after you can play teentown, it will take a lot of work to make it sound right.
  7. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    Check at what tempo you are able to play it without mistakes!!!

    Then go up by only few bpm at the time. That will do it.
  8. joe vegas

    joe vegas Supporting Member

    a good way to break it down it from scratch is to jazz-swing it at a crawl..
    jaco's machine-like staccato execution is half the 'terror' in this great beast of a piece.

    also, break down each 2 or 4-bar phrase and repeat them separately until you've got a handle on them. master each phrase, slowly.

    it'll all start to come together in blocks that way, instead of as a daunting wall of fast lines.

    keep it up! good luck!
  9. matthewbrown

    matthewbrown Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Harwich, MA, USA
    Brian Bromberg's version is a whole lot slower, but he's playing it on DB:meh:
  10. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    Check the fingering you're using too. It might work at slower speeds, but cause issues at faster tempos. I've had that problem a few times. Teen Town is by far not an easy tune to play, so just keep on trying. You'll get it. Try to understand what you're playing too. (How the notes fit in with the 4 chords in the song).
  11. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    To me the important thing is to maintain control. Jaco always had complete control over how loud and how legato/staccato each note was. He could bring out accents anywhere or play evenly no matter how complex the line was.

    The OP's post inspired me to dig out Teentown again and work it up. Once again I am struck by how much technical subtlety there is to the phrasing and dynamics of the piece. Definitely not easy. Obviously, play over the bridge pickup, and pluck with fingertips, with not too much finger meat. Luckily the whole piece divides up nicely into a bunch of seperate licks that can be easily isolated and practiced.

    I think 100bpm is a sort of breakpoint for this piece. To go faster than that you have to start to think about it a bit differently, and relax more. Just remember, your fingers are probably more than fast enough, it's your brain that has to get faster. If you can't get it up to tempo, there is almost certainly some aspect of the playing that you have not internalized mentally.
  12. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    Taylor Lee (from whom I bought my Roscoe) posted a video of himself playing Teen Town.
    Decent views of the fingering - I don't recall much detail on the right hand but the left is there...
  13. All of these guys are offering great suggestions, and I think you personally are approaching it the right way - you can't play something fast if you can't play it slow.

    One other method might be to leave the song for a week or two and work on something else. You might be over-thinking it right now, so when you come back, your head will be clear and it'll just happen.
  14. Kragnorak


    Sep 20, 2008
    Isn't River People the song with all the octaves? I found Teen Town to be much easier than that! Just goes to show that everyone focuses on different things...
  15. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    River people is harder for me too. But it's very focused on one technique, so it's almost like an étude. Once you do that even at a slow tempo, Teentown gets much easier. IMHO.
  16. davidhilton

    davidhilton Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 13, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
  17. davidhilton

    davidhilton Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 13, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    JACO the TERROR!!! lol
  18. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    Don't try so hard.

    If you're playing it after 1.5 years, consider that a good thing. The thing to remember- Jaco practiced all the effing time and he didn't reach that level instantly, either.

    Can you sing the notes without playing? Memorize the whole song- I find that this helps me learn songs.
  19. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

    Apr 2, 2013
    You've been playing for 1 1/2 years, and you can play Teen Town at 100 bpm? Quit bragging.

    But seriously . . . move on to other things, and revisit Teen Town in another 6 months.
  20. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    It's a difficult one. I "played" it years ago for an exam and man did I not do it justice! I haven't tried playing it in a while but maybe I will, just to see what happens.