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"What Is Hip?", help!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Vandelay, Jun 11, 2007.


  1. My band (with a 3-piece, sometimes a 4-piece horn section) wants to do Tower of Power's "What Is Hip?" I love the tune but good lord, Rocco's bass line is a real push for me. Keep in mind that I'm only about 2 years into the bass guitar (after many years as a rhythm guitar player), and I've only been playing fingerstyle for about 8 months. Some of those 16th-note runs are just SO busy, and some of them require a fair amount of pinky-fretting. I'm finding that I can use my pinky, but it's not quite fast enough.

    Any suggestions for helping me get thru the learning curve on this song? Any ideas for simplifying the bass line that will still sound ok?
     
  2. zac2944

    zac2944

    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Great tune. My band bootyvortex does that one, and we have a 4 piece horn section too.

    If you're only two years into bass, you might have some trouble playing it at faster tempos. The more you practice the tune the faster you'll get, but make sure your drummer keeps things at a good tempo when rehearsing. The tune tends to lose its funk the faster you go.

    What I found hardest to get down when learning this tune was the little turn around at the end of the verse groove. You're hammering away on the 16th notes (E), then you've got some tough intervals followed by a nice chromatic run. When I play that part, I finger the E (A-string, 7th fret) with my 2nd finger (middle finger), and then can hit the higher notes on the G-string with my 1st and 3rd fingers.
     
  3. zac2944

    zac2944

    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    If you have any recording software on you PC, another recommendation would be to loop the intro. I do that sometimes when learning a new tune. I can even drop the tempo without changing the pitch. I find this very helpful when trying to transcribe a tricky line or if I just want to play along at a different tempo.

    You could probably do it with Audacity (free).
     
  4. Rocco covers this line in his video "fingerstyle funk" Obviously it will still take a lot of practice, but maybe checking out the video would help.

    In the video he says he never lets up with his right hand, he just drills out 16th notes constantly and then either mutes with his left or frets to let the notes ring out.
     
  5. Lonnybass

    Lonnybass

    Jul 19, 2000
    San Diego
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    Another point to keep in mind - economy of motion is very important. The less you move your hands, the better. Turn up your volume and try to play with a lighter touch and you'll save much-needed energy for late in the tune.

    Lonnybass
     
  6. DocBop

    DocBop

    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    First check out Rocco's technique was a very simple player and mainly used two finger and muted with the others. As for speed build it up slowly, speed comes on its own work on good technique. Focus on even alternate fingers for even 16th's. Work on controling the 16th's. Once you have them down at a slow tempo clean and even, then start accenting the down beat of the N-e-and-a (N = number of the beat 1,2,3,4.) Then the "e" of every beat and so on. Do this for every 16th in a beat. I imagine all while doing this your will be gradually getting the metronome up. But don't go faster than you can play it cleanly. That way when you play it with the band and adrenaline kicks in you will be able to play it and sound good.
     
  7. stretch80

    stretch80

    Jan 31, 2005
    Here's a left-field idea: play it with a pick. If you were a guitarist, you may be much better able to play good fast even 16ths with a pick than with your fingers. If you mute with your palm or left hand, you can get a great sound.

    I know this isn't how Rocco himself played it, but a lot of great 70s funk players (say Wilton Felder w/ the Crusaders) played a lot of great sounding funk with a p-bass and a pick.

    If you want to work on it fingerstyle, you've already got some great suggestions here, too. I second the importance of a light touch!
     
  8. Ed Goode

    Ed Goode Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    This is excellent advice, many new-ish bassist have a really heavy touch that will slow you down a lot. Lighten up your touch some and you'll find it easier to keep pumping without messing up the tempo or running out of gas 1/2 way through the tune.

    When you see Rocco play, it looks effortless because his technique is flawless. It's a cool tune, just work on the ideas everyone gave above, it'll all come together ... :cool:
     
  9. jady

    jady

    Jul 21, 2006
    Modesto, CA
    I have on good authority that Rocco uses Flats as well. It is a lot easier to get a clean 16th note funk articulation out of flats. And relax above all, tension kills.
     
  10. JKT

    JKT

    Apr 30, 2007
    Buffalo NY
    Endorsing Artist: Barker Basses
    I have always wanted to play this tune in a band. Good advice on turning up and playing lighter, that should help.

    Another thing to consider here is don't make yourself crazy about copping it note for note. I'm more than technically capable and most likely would not approach it that way.

    Listen to the way Rocco is creating the groove with the alternate finger picking and try and focus on the feel. That is way more important IMO than catching all of his riffs. I would venture to say that someone with good solid alternate finger picking that was laying it down could play it much simpler and it would still cook.

    JKT :bassist:
     
  11. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    When I see Rocco playing I don't see a light touch.
     
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    Primary TB Assistant

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