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Slap Bass (ochestra players read)

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Joshua Phelps, Dec 17, 2011.


  1. Joshua Phelps

    Joshua Phelps

    Feb 22, 2011
    Memphis
    I know this isn't the place to talk slap bass but for my question it is. I play orchestral music (arco). I'm not really interested in playing slap style bass but my question is, is slap bass something that all double bassists can do even if they don't use it? I don't even want to try it on my bass because it's not setup for it. Do you think Edgar meyer, Gary Karr & bozo paradzik can slap too? Or would they be lost. Food for thought.
     
  2. I don't know that they would play 'slap bass' per se as in rockabilly, but from what I understand, slap bass is a derivitive of 'bartok pizz' which is a classical technique.
     
  3. Herbie 80's

    Herbie 80's

    Dec 15, 2008
    What Crosley said.

    There isn't really a 'slap' bass technique for classical bassists, but the music does call for the pizz to be heard on the fingerboard too (meaning that you hit the strings). Sometimes the music will also call for col legno, which means you hit the string with the wooden part of your bow.
     
  4. Joshua Phelps

    Joshua Phelps

    Feb 22, 2011
    Memphis
    "there is no slap bass technique for classical" duh. It was just supposed to be an interesting thought here guys :)
     
  5. Herbie 80's

    Herbie 80's

    Dec 15, 2008
    Hard to get sarcastic meaning out of forum posts. Although, I can only imagine what would happen if someone decided to rockabilly slap in the middle of Mahler 9.
     
  6. Joshua Phelps

    Joshua Phelps

    Feb 22, 2011
    Memphis
    It would probably go badly :)
     
  7. neilG

    neilG

    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
  8. Joshua Phelps

    Joshua Phelps

    Feb 22, 2011
    Memphis
    Do you know if he was using steels or gut on that bass?
     
  9. neilG

    neilG

    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    Can't really tell, but it looks so loose and easy I'm going to guess guts.
     
  10. bejoyous

    bejoyous

    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    Some orchestral pieces imitate an early jazz or country feel and if you are the principal or only bass, you can slap to improve the mood of the piece (unless the conductor says to knock it off).

    I've done this for Copeland's Hoedown, a bit in his clarinet concerto (plus a few rakes and ghost notes, too) and some other student piece that I can't remember at the moment.

    I've also done some slapping in small ensemble situations where we were playing lighter entertainment pieces to give more rhythmical emphasis on the off beats.

    It's easy to do. Without the bow in your hand, just pizz the way you normally would except lift your hand off the fingerboard a bit and bring it down hard enough between the pizzes so the strings contacts the fingerboard with a click.

    Practice a bit with the slap on beats two and four. Then on the eighth notes between steady quarters both in straight time and in a swinging rhythm. That'll cover most of what you'd need. There's all kinds of fancy triplet palm and finger tricks but I'll leave that for the rockabilly folks to explain. There's videos on youtube that are instructive.

    Then there's strapping a tambourine to your foot, or using a high hat, or holding a maraca in your pizzing hand, or drumming on the wood between pizzes to imitate a conga, or wedging a shaker egg between the stick of the bow & the hair then playing with a percussive bowing style and so on, but that's a different thread...
     
  11. abaguer

    abaguer

    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    I just had to play Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and one section calls for strings to be pizzed so that they strike the fingerboard. Basically it's the old new orleans single slap.
     
  12. Slap bass came long before rockabilly. There are examples of slap playing in the 30s, rockabilly started around 1954. Blues players had used it too before rockabilly.
     
  13. I just learned something new.
    I like :)
     
  14. Marty is dead on.

    Please quit with the negative undertones about Rockabilly and slapping. It's a technique that every upright bassist should have in his/her back pocket. Doesn't mean you have to slap and sound like Lee Rocker (sorry for the horrible reference, but come on, he's the most known rockabilly dude out there). Check out Milt Hinton, Wellman Braud, Louis Vola etc... I even have a live Ellington album with Jimmy Blanton slapping on some tunes. YES.... tasteful single slapping. To be heard mainly. The Willie D vid in this post shows that slapping was done before Bill Black slapped That's Alright Mama into rock n roll history. Even the great Ray Brown knows how to slap (although he admits he doesn't get to use the technique on a lot of his gigs.... but his biggest influence is..... Milt Hinton!)

    Right on. Thanks for sharing!

    When learned and practiced, slap can be a very valuable technique. A single slap can give such a punchy, well delivered note(s)... as well as a specific tone/sound from the bass. After all... upright bass is a very percussive instrument.

    Seems to me, most classical teachers are leaving out one important lesson in bass playing technique. :meh:

    Even Spencer from Bottom Line Duo does some slap technique on some of their tunes..... many different slap techniques actually. He uses them very tastefully though.

    Now I'm curious..... how many classical pieces have 'Bartok pizz' written in the music?

    (if there are more pieces with slap written in, I'm sure it's all single slaps. Not rockabilly/country double slaps, triples and such :D )
     
  15. eerbrev

    eerbrev

    Dec 6, 2009
    Ottawa, ON, CAN
    we mostly call it "bartok Pizz" 'round here :).
     
  16. Good to know. I'll respect that and use that term in this forum.
    So, is Bartok Pizz a common technique studied by orchestral musicians? (honestly really curious... this thread is good)


    Also, to OP Joshua:

    Willie Dixon is playing guts in that video. Steel strings didn't show up until the 50's.
     
  17. neilG

    neilG

    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    Bartok pizz is different than slapping. It's making the string snap on an indicated note by pulling the string up and letting it whack noisily back onto the fingerboard. Hopefully in unison with the rest of the section.
     
  18. Ok, thanks for clarifying, NeilG. I understand now, I think.

    This is really intriguing to me. I found the below quotation on the web.

    "A Bartok pizzicato is a special pizzicato technique that was brought into classical music by the Hungarian composer Bela Bartok, although it's not believed that he invented it himself.
    A Bartok pizzicato is used on bowed string instruments (that is violin, viola, violoncello and double bass) in classical music.

    A Bartok pizzicato is a very strong pizzicato that results in the string striking the fingerboard, played by drawing the string directly upward from the fingerboard with a lot more force than is used for a normal pizzicato. The resulting sound is hard, metallic and resembles a whip or a slapstick. The sound has some pitch, although little. A Bartok pizzicato is therefore usually notated with a determined pitch, although it can be hard to determine.

    The notation of the Bartok pizzicato is a small ring with a vertical line through the top.

    As a rule, the volume of a Bartok pizzicato increases with the length of the string being drawn. This means that a note played on an open string (not pressed down by the left hand) generally gives the most volume, and as you move higher up the string (toward the bridge of the instrument, higher pitch) the volume diminishes. At the highest pitches, a Bartok pizzicato won't sound at all, resulting in a normal pizzicato instead.

    Bela Bartok lived from 1881-1945. He didn't use the Bartok pizzicato all that much, and not in every work. After his works, other composers adopted several of his techniques, among them the Bartok pizzicato. In the following decades, it was used extensively and is now considered a normal technique in contemporary music, but is (barring Bartok) almost exclusively used in music written after 1945."

    You truly do learn something new everyday. Thanks guys! I will go back to lurk/reading of this thread. :bag:
     
  19. abaguer

    abaguer

    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    I always employed the "BarTalk pizz" myself:)
     

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