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Playing in the pocket?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Hazy_Dayz, Nov 20, 2003.

  1. Hazy_Dayz


    Nov 20, 2003
    Long Beach, MS
    I'm new to TB and not familiar with all the lingo. Can someone explain "Playing in the pocket?"
  2. Jason Carota

    Jason Carota

    Mar 1, 2002
    Lowell, MA
    Welcome to TB, Hazy Dayz. I'm not sure if there is an exact definition, but I'll try and explain as best as I can.

    "In the pocket" means to be playing a groove that fits the rhythm and feel of a song without adding extras (i.e. fills/runs.) George Porter Jr. of The Meters is a great example of a pocket player.
  3. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    You can add plenty of fills and runs - I'm certainly sure I recall lots of tasty 'extras' from George Porter Jr (great player, BTW) - the art of being in the pocket is that whether or not you choose to add in a bunch of fills, the bassline 'grooves', fitting in with the sense of time being collaboratively created by all the musicians. For example, maybe everyone lays back and plays the first beat of each bar just a fraction late but if you do this together, the 'distortion' of the pulse of the song creates a 'deep pocket'.

    It's very subjective... but listen to The Meters and you'll hear what the pocket sounds like :D

  4. Slot


    Oct 17, 2003
    Sydney - The Shire
    Pocket is where the groove feels so good that it puts a big cheezy grin on your face and it makes you wanna put your bass down so you can get up and dance.

    Basically its playing perfect time, but humanized time, not 'mechanical' time.

    Listen to Rocco..... Garibaldi's pockets were huuge!!;)
  5. Hazy_Dayz


    Nov 20, 2003
    Long Beach, MS
    thanks for the info guys!
  6. Pocket has a lot to do with the drummer. Think of a rubber-band. The band is on the front edge of the beat and the only thing holding it back is the snare drum. If you watch a good drummer his snare hit will be slightly late. This adds tension which creates a feeling of forward motion that makes you want to do crazy things. When this happens, give iin and dance man!!
  7. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    You can't hold no groove, if you don't have no pocket. ;)
  8. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    willie weeks
  9. Prahainspring


    Oct 22, 2002
    New Jersey
    Hehehehe.....I like that CD. My favorite track is "Me and My Bass Guitar". The part where the guy says, "Hey Victor.....Do that....ya'know *Plays extremly fast*...yeah thats it!"
  10. DannyBoy


    Nov 22, 2003

    George Porter Jr. is one of my favorite bassists and an ideal example of a Pocket Player.

    For me, playing in the Pocket means holding down a Repeating Form. A pattern of notes that repeat and are centered around the root. It has less to do with Fills then with notes per measure and turn around.

    With Jazz, I can take a simple, 4-chord progression and (through 40 measures), never play the same pattern twice. Playing the extensions, modes, ect... can create a non-repeating pattern through the same progression.

    So a (simple) Jazz line for example...

    The form is all Major7, C-D-A-G. 4/4, 96bps.

    An out of pocket line may be something like:

    Cmaj7: 1st - 5th - 3rd - 7th
    Dmaj7: 7th - 3rd - 5th - 1st
    Amaj7: 5th - 7th - 3rd - 1st
    Gmaj7: 1st - 3rd - 7th - 5th
    Cmaj7: 1st - 3rd - 7th - 5th
    Dmaj7: 5th - 7th - 3rd - 1st
    Amaj7: 7th - 3rd - 5th - 1st
    Gmaj7: 1st - 5th - 3rd - 7th
    -----repeat Progression with different pattern--

    Whereas a pocket line could be something like:

    Cmaj7: 1st - 5th - 3rd - 7th
    Dmaj7: 1st - 5th - 3rd - 7th
    Amaj7: 1st - 5th - 3rd - 7th
    Gmaj7: 1st - 5th - 3rd - 7th

    ---or even this if you repeat it every time through

    Cmaj7: 1st - 5th - 3rd - 7th
    Dmaj7: 7th - 3rd - 5th - 1st
    Amaj7: 5th - 7th - 3rd - 1st
    Gmaj7: 1st - 3rd - 7th - 5th

    So, I don't know if there is a "theory-based", Technical definition of the "Pocket" but that's how I choose look at it.

    I will migrate in an out of the pocket depending on what is going on in the song. With my band (Horns, Percussion, Drums, Guitar and Bass), when the guitarist solo's, the groove falls out so I drop back into the pocket. Under a Trumpet Solo, I climb out of the pocket to give him a broader foundation to play over.
  11. You're keepin' it in the pocket when the groove makes you feel so nice you wanna jump back and kiss yourself. :)

    Just listen to James Brown a lot! Start with 'Got The Feeling'.

    Phew, just thinking about all that stank, nasty funky stuff makes me all vivacious! :D

  12. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    That's the pocket. It's not playing the same thing again and again it's not playing a line with no fills - listen to something like Brickhouse by The Commodores... that's pocket playing as I understand it but there are plenty of fills in there.

    To be fair, there is a very strong motif (A C D G G# A, followed by a fill) that is played by the bass for most of the song but we could also find numberous walking bass lines that keep 'in the pocket' while moving all over the place.

    There have been plenty of stimulating discussions about this in the past - for example, how about:

    taken from this one :D

  13. Hazy_Dayz


    Nov 20, 2003
    Long Beach, MS
    Makes sense to me, great info! Thanx
  14. I watched a bass player the other night who had chops and a decent feel, BUT, he was pushing so far ahead of the beat it sounded edgy, in fact he was so far ahead I could sing his lines and be right there with the drummer. That's NOT in the pocket.
  15. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    In the pocket isn't as much about what you play as it is how you play.

    To me, is when the bass and drums are really locked up tight. You know exactly what beats to lean into and which ones to ease off of.

    There are tons of players who are great at it and others never get it. Listen to some Motown records (especially Jameson) and you'll get the idea pretty quickly.
  16. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    How do I sync with the drummer? I don't want to play the same rhythm, but I do want to learn how to play in the pocket.
  17. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    You might want to join up with him on the one, maybe on the three now and then. Then go wild in between.
  18. rebelbass


    Feb 16, 2006
    New Jersey
    the drums supply a beat; when you add the bass you create a pulse; thats what makes you want to tap your feet! Playing a teeny-tiny bit ahead or behind the beat makes tension/release (the snare does it,too). When we were auditioning drummers (I play in southern rock bands) I insisted "this old cowboy" by Marshall Tucker. Its got a jazz swing to it. Sounds easy...untill you try to play it! The bass is all over the place;not a lot of notes but some places bass "pulls" the beat;others is on the beat. When the guitar solo kicks in, I pull the hell out of the beat!Drives the solo to a frenzied height. the drums have to keep up,but after the solo the beat has to drop RIGHT back into the pocket,or the song is 2-3x faster and totally looses the groove! tough on a drummer.But a good gauge of if he's "got pocket". (Steve R; now in southern steel got it EXACTLY during the audition! I insisted we hire him!)
  19. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    The best way to learn how to play in the pocket is to slow it down and strip it down to the bare minimum.

    In the past month or so I just picked up playing with a new drummer. This year, I've been beating myself up about not grooving well enough at slow tempos...Then I hooked up with this band, and the drummer doesn't like to play above 80 bpm, and most of its less! I've got a heavier groove now than I ever did. Speed sometimes hides feel.
  20. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    Thanks guys!

    How do I know what to play, though? When do I play quarter notes? 8ths? 16ths? Something different? I don't want to reduce it to a formula, but I do want to understand this.

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