What exactly is 'The pocket'

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by f'nar f'nar, Mar 15, 2006.

  1. Hey guys, forgive my ignorance here, but I hear alot of people talkin about being in the pocket like 'that bassist was great, he was totally in the pocket'. What exactly is it to be in the pocket? I think i have conflicting veiws here. Just hopin to clarify, thanks guys.
  2. Weasel


    Feb 18, 2003
    Tampere, Finland
    In the pocket means that one plays in time with good feel, creates THE groove and so on.

    If a song makes you tap your foot, you know that the players are just in the pocket!
  3. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    I always thought "pocket" was something to do with space. After all, a good groove has space

    Could be wrong though.
  4. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Playing in the pocket to me means putting notes exactly where they should be. The result is that the band is inspired to play and the listener cant imagine the groove feeling any better!

    It's about relaxed control at a level below that of the value of notes, it's about attack and note length, pushing the beat, moving the music forward, urging the audience to listen and to follow the band. It's about playing with confidence and strength.

    Most importantly, it's about the whole band feeling the same pulse.

    Listen to Jospeh Modeliste and George Porter Jnr play together in the Meters. That is pocket :cool:


    Jan 25, 2005
    Phoenix, AZ
    +1....that's my interpretation of the pocket as well
  6. mothmonsterman


    Feb 8, 2006
    +2 i always keep a pocket empty for groove, but sometimes it makes a bulge.:bawl:
  7. I refer to it as the "sound machine" - when the band gets it all just right and it feels like everything is just automatic. Almost like you are observing as well as playing. Very cool feeling.
  8. Yes,very cool feeling.:)
  9. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    A couple of people commented on the your first sentence, which is I think is pretty good. But I kind of like your foot tapping concept even better. The concept of "groove" is kind of tough to define just like "the pocket" is, however, using a simple test such as foot tapping, finger tapping, head bobbing, booty shaking, etc. seems like a really clear and easy way to demonstrate being in the pocket.

    Nicely put!
  10. jaffabass


    Mar 28, 2002
    The pocket is People Say by The Meters
  11. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Although, this raises the point that 'in the pocket' is to a large degree defined by the listener.

    What I think of as 'in the pocket', might not be the same as what someone else thinks of as in the pocket. I think this comes down to exposure, a more experienced musician will feel when a groove is not 'on it' where a beginner or less experienced musician might not. How many gigs have you been to where the person next to you is raving about some band you think are totally grooveless?

    And, how many people are there out there who clap on the 1 and 3 :rollno: Does it mean the groove is in the pocket when they clap along?

    +1 on 'people say' by the meters - that whole album is exactly what I think of as in the pocket :cool:
  12. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    Good points, but I didn't say it had to be by the listener. It could be bandmates too, people who would be more in touch with it.

    Anyway, I don't mean to split hairs. :)
  13. chardin


    Sep 18, 2000
    Maybe if we give some more examples of players in the pocket that would help. I suggest Donald "Duck" Dunn with Booker T. and the MGs. What about more modern players?
  14. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    I thought playing "in the pocket" meant not showing off and only playing the notes that are absolutely needed.
  15. Basshole

    Basshole Banned

    Jan 28, 2005
    I'd say that "the pocket" is totally locking up with the drummer.

    Some drummers push, others lay back a bit. Failing to match that in terms of feel, makes it seem like the two of you are not "in the pocket" together.

    "The pocket" is also sometimes used to refer to the practice of laying back just a bit behind the beat. Definitely not pushing, and not being right on top of it, being just a tad behind it, but yet not dragging the time down, or actually slowing anything.

    Being just a few milliseconds behind the beat consistently enough to make it just a tad funky.

    Perhaps the best explanations are by example:

    Gary Grainger and Dennis Chambers from any of the John Scofield records where they appeared together is a fine example.

    Another fine example is Chuck Rainey and Bernard Purdie on any of the Steely Dan recordings.

    There are many, many more...someone already mentioned the Meters, for instance.

    Hope that helps...
  16. lefty


    Sep 25, 2004
    the pocket cannot be explained!!!! it`s like a black hole, no one can explain what goes on in there! or like making love, you can`t explain with words what it`s like! just stop this thread RIGHT NOW! where`s a moderator when you need one! tell these people to stop trying to explain THE POCKET! it`s ok to say things like "man we were in the pocket" and stuff like that, but you just can`t explain it. (just kidding, don`t take me seriously please) it`s just kind of funny everybody trying to explain THE POCKET
  17. To me, the pocket has more to do with feel than with technical perfection. Of course, the rhythm can't be completely off, but I've heard some recordings that I thought were in the pocket which had some technical mistakes here and there. By contrast, I've heard some prog stuff that was technically on, but didn't really feel as if it was in the pocket. IMHO, YMMV, etc.
  18. Basshole

    Basshole Banned

    Jan 28, 2005
    I'll buy that. In a way, I'll agree.

    It's almost like "taking it out" in terms of time, as opposed to harmonically.

    Just how bad can I F#$% with this $H@# here, and not fall off?

    Thus; funky as a mofo.
  19. flatwoundfender


    Feb 24, 2005
    The Meters and Booker T. and M.G.'s are great examples of bands where the whole band is part of the pocket. While there are plenty of bands who play in the pocket, these two are the pocket.