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Fun Slap Exercise

Discussion in 'Rocket Music' started by RocketMusic, Mar 23, 2010.


  1. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 31, 2007
    Blacksburg, VA
    Owner, Rocket Music
    Here's a fun exercise that Anthony Wellington presents in Victor Wooten's "Groove Workshop" video. It's great for developing control of fast paced 16th note "paradiddle" sort of slap chops. If you're at all like me, you can slap quickly for maybe a few bars, but eventually the train comes off the tracks and you end up just flailing about with no particular groove. This exercise forces you to play a repetitive pattern in several different ways, so you develop control and you're forced to play some things you might not normally play (like leading a slap lick with a pop or a fretboard slap?!?).

    Everyone knows about subdividing time into 16th notes, right? 1 measure of 4/4 = 1e&u2e&u3e&u4e&u. Against a straight quarter note beat on the drums, 1 and 3 are the kick, 2 and 4 are the snare. Follow?

    Then let's define 5 building blocks for our repetitive slap licks. Each of these blocks is two distinct 16th notes.

    HO = Hammer On (Thumb 5th fret on A string then hammer on the 7th fret on the A string)
    EE = Two thumbs on the open E string
    ST = fretboard slap followed by thumb. No notes with these, just rhythmic noise
    PT = Pop Thumb. Also no notes, just rhythmic noise
    TP = Thumb Pop. Also no notes, just rhythmic noise

    Let's piece together 8 of these building blocks to make a 16th note pattern that is one measure long. The grouping is somewhat arbitrary, feel free to come up with your own patterns. But I'll stick with this one for this exercise.

    1e &u 2e &u 3e &u 4e &u
    HO EE ST PT TP EE ST PT

    Here's what the pattern sounds like at 90 bpm. **EDIT - oops, I just realized I played the pattern halftime. Oh, well, it's easier to learn at that speed anyway**

    As with most exercises, try to build this up in speed to something more reasonable that you'd use in a band context.

    In addition to building speed, we should also explore what Vic and Anthony call the "Modes of Rhythm". Think of the pattern above as the 1st mode (like Ionian is the first mode of the major scale). Using the analogy of the major scale modes, the second rhythmic mode would be the same pattern started on the second block. Taken all the way, here are the 8 possible rhythmic modes of this pattern:

    1) HO EE ST PT TP EE ST PT
    2) EE ST PT TP EE ST PT HO
    3) ST PT TP EE ST PT HO EE
    4) PT TP EE ST PT HO EE ST
    5) TP EE ST PT HO EE ST PT
    6) EE ST PT HO EE ST PT TP
    7) ST PT HO EE ST PT TP EE
    8) PT HO EE ST PT TP EE ST

    Here's a clip where I play 4 measures each of the first 4 modes at 114 bpm. I cheat on the 4th one, I haven't worked the HO into the second half of the pattern yet. And I'm sloppy as hell with all of them, but I'm getting better. The improvements come pretty fast if you don't wear out your fingertips :) It especially helps to do this with a metronome or a drum track. Start at a slow or moderate tempo, and gradually work it up to speed...

    I'll be happy with myself when I can switch in and out of all 8 modes without stopping at a gig-worthy tempo. Or better yet, just be able to come up with whatever cool patterns on the fly and not lose the groove.

    HAVE FUN! :bassist::bassist::bassist::bassist::bassist:
     
  2. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 31, 2007
    Blacksburg, VA
    Owner, Rocket Music
  3. LilRay

    LilRay Commercial User

    Dec 27, 2007
    Between my Roscoe and Leather
    Owner: Cockeyed Cow Custom Leathercraft
    Um, I'm like Kung Fu Panda Is there a level zero?:smug: I'd have to learn proper execution on the individual techniques 'fore I could go mixin' 'em up. :D

    Point me to the kiddie section please.;)

    Awesome stuff man.

    God Bless, Ray
     
  4. CliffD

    CliffD Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2008
    Hells yes, mo funk Greg! I'm gonna go over this tonight!
     
  5. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 31, 2007
    Blacksburg, VA
    Owner, Rocket Music
    You mean your new Roscoe doesn't let you slap your doo-dads off?!? Man, I'd send it back and ask for another one :D

    Nah, seriously - my advice would be two-fold:
    1) Start SLOW
    2) Break it down into little pieces

    What's the old line? How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time, right?

    I'd start with just the original pattern. And to make it even easier, I'd start with just the FIRST HALF of the original pattern:

    Original Pattern:
    1e &u 2e &u 3e &u 4e &u
    HO EE ST PT TP EE ST PT

    But start here (play the first four blocks twice per measure):
    1e &u 2e &u 3e &u 4e &u
    HO EE ST PT HO EE ST PT

    Do that over and over and over and over again until it's automatic. Then do the same thing with the second half:
    1e &u 2e &u 3e &u 4e &u
    TP EE ST PT TP EE ST PT

    Once you've got both halves of the pattern down, work on alternating between the two until that's automatic.

    Once you have the first mode nailed, move onto the next. Split that in half and nail each half separately, then glue it back together. Then onto the next mode, and on and on...

    You can see where I'm at with this exercise if you listen to my take on the 4th mode. I have both halves of it under my fingers, but I can't yet switch in and out of the two. So I just played the first half twice per measure.

    So that's the kiddie section - start slow, and divide and conquer! You can do it!!
     
  6. Nice, Greg!

    Ray, FWIW, for anyone who asks (and I know you didn't...so please excuse my butting in here), here's my initial slapping advice.

    Octaves. This will be your meat & potatoes anyway, so start here harmonically. Rhythmically, think drums.

    Thumb = kick drum.
    Index (or middle, or ring...I use all three on occasion) = snare drum.

    Pretend you're a drummer (just get the hanky out for the drool :D) and go at it. Play grooves...rock, funk, shuffles, etc. When you're confident on your time you can start digging into more harmonically interesting stuff, as well as lines that are more rhythmically complex.

    For inspiration I always go to Chuck Rainey, Nathan East, Darryl Jones, Freddy Washington, Gary Grainger, and of course...Marcus Miller. These cats are the masters of using the technique to lay down a serious groove. As much as I love Victor, Oteil, et al....and I really do, I've yet to get a call to play like them on a gig. Which is a damn good thing since I can't. :D
     
  7. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 31, 2007
    Blacksburg, VA
    Owner, Rocket Music
    One other tip. They call these patterns paradiddles for a reason. As far as I'm concerned, this is as much an exercise in playing drum rudiments as it is playing bass. We're thumping and popping strings instead of beating on skins, but we're still making a purely rhythmic statement. There's very little harmonic content in this. It might help to try playing these rhythms on a set of bongos first, or at least mentally imagine yourself doing that before you pick up your bass.

    Find the accents, and notice how they move in relation to the drums as we change modes. It's the same pattern every time, we're just changing the relationship in time of that pattern to the drums. It's a really cool concept!
     
  8. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 31, 2007
    Blacksburg, VA
    Owner, Rocket Music
    Of course, Jerry beats me to the drum analogy. Hey, I'm home on dialup!! No fair, Jerry!!
     
  9. LilRay

    LilRay Commercial User

    Dec 27, 2007
    Between my Roscoe and Leather
    Owner: Cockeyed Cow Custom Leathercraft
    I'm on it guys. :D

    I have 0 slap knowledge. So I'll have to learn the syllables, to speak the words, Speak the words, to form a sentance (yadda,yadda):smug:

    BTW Greg, The Roscoe CAN slap :cool: I've seen it done.;)

    Me? Who knows:D but I'll give it a shot.

    :D

    God Bless, Ray
     
  10. Allen_VA

    Allen_VA

    Sep 17, 2008
    Hokietown, VA
    This lesson should be subtitled: "How to learn 'Tommy The Cat', or almost any other Les Claypool song".

    Sounding good, Greg! It never ceases to amaze me how simple rearrangements of these "rudiments" can produce wildly different-sounding grooves.
     
  11. And more very well deserved kudos to Greg. Not only for passing on the knowledge, but also for the playing. Wicked stuff, my man! IMO slap stuff either grooves or it doesn't...kind of a 0 or 1 thing, without much gray area. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to pinpoint why one dude's playing is in the pocket and another's isn't. No worries here, because Greg is flat out layin' it down for us.
     
  12. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 31, 2007
    Blacksburg, VA
    Owner, Rocket Music
    What I really dig is seeing it broken down into small digestable pieces that sound pretty amazing when you put them all together. If I heard somebody slapping like that, I'd have no idea how to go about reproducing that sound... this at least starts us down the path of recognizing the patterns behind the sounds. I imagine at some point these rhythms will become so recognizable to my ear that I'll know what's being played without having a bass in my hands, just like I can now recognize most minor pentatonic riffs.
     
  13. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    Holy crap!

    Sounds great Greg!

    Probably end up in the hospitgal after getting all my fingers tangled in the strings, if I try this one...
     
  14. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 31, 2007
    Blacksburg, VA
    Owner, Rocket Music
    :oops: Aw, shucks :oops:
     
  15. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    It's definitely a fun exercise. Glad you're onto it!
     
  16. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 31, 2007
    Blacksburg, VA
    Owner, Rocket Music
    So Cliff - how'd it go last night? Did you get anywhere?
     
  17. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 31, 2007
    Blacksburg, VA
    Owner, Rocket Music
    I just finally got the 4th mode down myself. Something about that one didn't come together very easily for me. It's one that leads with a pop, and that just feels freaky to my hands. I also added an open high hat on all the 1's so you can tell where the drums are in each measure.

    Modes Of Rhythm Exercise Mix 2

    So that's the first 4 modes complete now. The other 4 modes are essentially the same, they just flip the first and second halves of each measure. I can lay those down if anyone needs 'em, but they don't sound radically different. If you think of the two halves of each measure as a call and a response, then you're just flipping those...
     
  18. CliffD

    CliffD Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2008
    Hey Greg,

    Yeah I worked this baby out last night, had a lot of fun with it. I certainly need to practice more than I play, especially with slap because I definitely use patterns I'm more comfortable with more often than not. I also dusted of my old Alexis Sklarevski DVD, which is my favorite and how I learned to play what I call funk. 1254172644.gif You can find most of the video on youtube. I do need to check out the groove workshop though. This century standard sounds killer with the fatbeams I've got on it now btw, it just needs a lil wider string spacing! My wife just got me an apogee one for my b-day so just started to record last weekend. I'll add my fair share of bass debauchery here soon!
     
  19. Thanks Greg, it's very cool that you do this type of thing. Keep it coming.
     
  20. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 31, 2007
    Blacksburg, VA
    Owner, Rocket Music
    Thanks, Dave, it's totally my pleasure!

    One selfish side benefit of putting this out here is that it forces me to really practice the bits myself and learn them inside and out. So it really helps me as much as it might help anyone else :)
     
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