Octave licks and RH string crossing

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Funkateer, Jun 26, 2003.

  1. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    Been transcribing Flea's part to Can't Stop and the third and fourth measures have octave licks that are a little tricky to play at tempo.

    Each character accounts for a sixteenth note, with the - as a placeholder. I'm playing B on the E string and b on the D string. The iii is raked and the x is a kill note on the A string.

    B-b-b-B-BbBbbxB-C-cc-C-c <fill>

    i m m i imimiii i mm i m ...
    i m i m imimiii m im i m ...

    The corresponding two main rh fingering options are above.

    The first basically dedicates i to the E string and m to the D string. At slow tempos, this works fine. However, using m for adjacent sixteenth notes makes playing this smoothly at fast tempos problematic.

    The second is what I have been practicing as it seems like the correct fingering to be able to play these octave licks comfortably at speed. However, it feels awkward to me. My 'i' wants to play lower (pitched) strings than my 'm', and this fingering is mostly the reverse of this.

    Am I right that option 2 is the correct RH technique? And does this generalize to cover most octave licks? I.e. Learn to use m or i interchangeably to play the lower note in octave licks so that you can maintain your i/m alternation regardless of how the low and high notes in an octave lick are interleaved.
  2. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Just be sloppy like me and use whatever right hand fingers while muting the ones you're skipping with your left hand.
  3. Well, no. "Correct" RH technique is strict alternation, no raking or anything. Option 2 looks good enough to me though.

    In terms of generalising your RH technique, strict alternation will cover pretty much any octave lick or R5R pattern you run across. If you plan to play lots of sixteenth note octave grooves ala Zeppelin or Flea, you want to be on much more solid ground than one-finger-per-string.

    If you have trouble you can try exercises for strict alternation, something like this:


    This will get the RH used to the string skip while starting you on a different finger each repetition of the 3 note pattern - getting used to that different start finger is very important. I use the idea of groups of three or five all the time when coming up with stuff to work the RH for exactly this reason.

    When you nail it, you might have a stab at Ramble On. :)
  4. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    BehindTheMoon: Thanks for the exercise and confirmation that I need to work on strict alternation/string skipping. Metronome mania!
  5. That's what this place is for, you know. :)

    Got more, just ask.
  6. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    When i saw the title of this thread, the first thing that came to mind was "River People" by Jaco, I think that is probably the best tune to work on string crossing and octave licks. Teentown would help quite a bit, too, and you can get a real rhythmic workout.
  7. tappel


    May 31, 2003
    Long Island, NY
    I'm in total ageement with BehindTheMoon. Proper finger alternation is critical as far as right hand technique goes. Jaco mentioned it in his video, "most cats can't do that." The basic excersise in that video is a good one; just alternate fingers (index and middle) up and down the open strings. See if Jaco wasn't right. ;)

    Here's my favorite: do triplets across two open strings while alternating your index and middle fingers -- say D and G -- with the third of each triplet on the G string. So it'd be D(i)D(m)G(i) D(m)D(i)G(m) D(i)D(m)G(i) etc. Make sure to maintain index finger and middle finger alteration at all times.

  8. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Hmm, I'm not so sure that's correct.

    For example when playing from the G to D string, you would use the same finger in a rest stroke. So the finger, which ever it is, would play the note on the G plucking 'through' the string to play the note on the D. The same applies plying down the strings.
    So a run that went from the G to the A with two notes per string would use two fingers per string, so you'd play six notes in four finger strokes.

    I'm pretty sure this is a standard technique?

    I'm not sure this is the most efficient way of playing this type of excercise?

    I would do this:

    D(i)D(m)G(i) D(i)D(m)G(i)

    or this:

    D(m)D(i)G(m) D(m)D(i)G(m)

    It may look as though you're using one finger more than the other, hence slowing yourself down, but by raking from the G down to the D you save a whole finger stroke! ;)

    In both cases the last note in a triplet and the first note in the next triplet are played in the same finger stroke.
    So playing 8th note triplets you'd save two finger strokes per bar!

    Man, is that anally retentive or what... sh1t, I'm a TOTAL geek!!! :eek:
  9. I wouldn't. :)

    The purpose of strict alternation is really to simplify technique rather than cut down on finger movement. You always know which finger to use next, it always comes naturally - no matter what syncopation or string crossing hoops you jump through. Just hit whichever note comes next with your other finger, easy. ;)

    I don't think there's any great problem with raking as long as not it's not a hindrance or a crutch, I just prefer alternation. When you play similar patterns with a gap in between the strings, you don't have to rethink your RH fingering or anything. It's always the same principle. If you rake, you are getting used to something which simply won't work when you try to apply it to patterns which don't always move string to string.

    Suit yourself.

    That's exactly the idea which I use to practice consistency and alternation (see earlier in this thread). Reinventing the wheel, I guess!
  10. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Let me start by saying I use strict alteration 95% of the time and have only been attempting to learn to rake MORE in the last few months following some instruction for my bass teacher.

    Before my last lesson I had an audition coming up and the bass playing on the recording the band had given me was of a higher standard than I'm capable of - most notably, it was faster than I could play. My teacher said that my technique didnt allow form me to play any faster than I could alternate my index and middle finegrs and that I should try to use more raking down the strings where appropriate.

    I also agree that it is much easier, but I dont think I explained myself clearly...

    This technique I'm talking about is "strict altrernation of finger strokes" rather than "strict alternation of fingers".

    Sure, you can't use rest strokes and raking going up the strings (apart from with your thumb), but you can use it in string jumps, e.g. octave to root, and you can certainly make good use of it playing down the strings.

    I don't think there's any great problem with strict alteration as long as not it's not a hindrance or a crutch... :D

    Tee hee! My point is that they're both techniques, if we get both down so they're completey automatic then we can use both to best advantage :)
  11. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Yep. "River People" and "What Is Hip?" are two of the best fast string skipping octave pieces that I remember practicing for frickin' hours and hours.

    A non-song based thing that I do sometimes is scales as octave 16th notes. Like:


    etc... up and down an A major scale, or whatever scale.
  12. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    God I hate tabs, but what to do? This is a Verdine White lick from "That's the Way of the World". The F is on a downbeat. This seems like a good example of where raking really helps economize your right hand motion and helps shape the lick.

    im>>i mi>m(> means rake)
  13. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    I really, really hate tabs! My kingdom for a fixed width font! One more time:


    The lick starts on the last 16th note of the beat.
    Also, the C# is tied from the last 16th of the first beat to the first 16th of the second beat. Hope this ends up being decodable :meh:
  14. You've got one sitting right there - put it in the courier font. Like this.

  15. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA

    I believe you own Mr. Moon one kingdom, telemark.
  16. It's all right - if he hasn't got a kingdom lying around I'll take the financial equivalent in bass strings. I've already won Canada and most of Polynesia in a chess competition at high school (one of those "compete for mastery of the universe" things. Unfortunately we never really got further than dividing up the Western world) so I don't need another country.
  17. Tnavis


    Feb 25, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    Don't forget that Jamerson played everything with pretty much one finger, with raking all over the place.

    BehindTheMoon said:
    The purpose of strict alternation is really to simplify technique rather than cut down on finger movement. You always know which finger to use next, it always comes naturally - no matter what syncopation or string crossing hoops you jump through. Just hit whichever note comes next with your other finger, easy.

    That's a valid point; however, with enough practice, everything you do comes naturally. The more you work on incoporating raking and strict alternation into your playing, the less you have to think about it. The real sticky widget is the third finger.
  18. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    OH yeah, learn a lot of Disco. There's some string skipping.
  19. Basho

    Basho Guest

    I may be wrong, and I'm surprised that no one mentioned this already, but Can't Stop is slapped.

    So it'd be:

    t p p

    And so on. At least that's how I play it.