Slapping (music)

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Bassist Flea playing bass with slapping technique Red Hot Chili Peppers - Rock in Rio Madrid 2012 - 11.jpg
Bassist Flea playing bass with slapping technique
Demonstration of the slap technique on a 6 string bass.

Slapping and popping are ways to produce percussive sounds on a double bass or bass guitar by bouncing strings against the fretboard.

Double bass Acoustic stringed instrument of the violin family

The double bass, or simply the bass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra.

The bass guitar is a plucked string instrument similar in appearance and construction to an electric or an acoustic guitar, except with a longer neck and scale length, and typically four to six strings or courses.

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On bass guitar, slap and pop involves striking the strings with the bony part of the thumb or popping notes by pulling a string until it snaps against the fingerboard. It is often used in disco, funk, and other genres.

Disco music genre

Disco is a genre of dance music and a subculture that emerged in the 1970s from the United States' urban nightlife scene.

Funk is a music genre that originated in African-American communities in the mid-1960s when African-American musicians created a rhythmic, danceable new form of music through a mixture of soul music, jazz, and rhythm and blues (R&B). Funk de-emphasizes melody and chord progressions and focuses on a strong rhythmic groove of a bass line played by an electric bassist and a drum part played by a drummer, often at slower tempos than other popular music. Like much of African-inspired music, funk typically consists of a complex groove with rhythm instruments playing interlocking grooves that created a "hypnotic" and "danceable feel". Funk uses the same richly colored extended chords found in bebop jazz, such as minor chords with added sevenths and elevenths, or dominant seventh chords with altered ninths and thirteenths.

On the double bass, slapping refers to pulling strings until they snap against the fingerboard in rockabilly and psychobilly.

Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, dating back to the early 1950s in the United States, especially the South. As a genre it blends the sound of Western musical styles such as country with that of rhythm and blues, leading to what is considered "classic" rock and roll. Some have also described it as a blend of bluegrass with rock and roll. The term "rockabilly" itself is a portmanteau of "rock" and "hillbilly", the latter a reference to the country music that contributed strongly to the style. Other important influences on rockabilly include western swing, boogie-woogie, jump blues, and electric blues.

Psychobilly is a rock music fusion genre that mixes elements of rockabilly and punk rock. TheFreeDictionary.com defines it as "loud frantic rockabilly music", while according to About.com it "takes the traditional countrified rock style known as rockabilly, ramp[ing] up its speed to a sweaty pace, and combin[ing] it with punk rock and imagery lifted from horror films and late-night sci-fi schlock,...[creating a] gritty honky tonk punk rock." Dark imagery is also central to an offshoot of psychobilly known as gothabilly.

Slapping is a technique also adopted by acoustic and electric fingerstyle guitarists. [1]

Fingerstyle guitar technique of playing the guitar by plucking the strings directly with the fingertips

Fingerstyle guitar is the technique of playing the guitar by plucking the strings directly with the fingertips, fingernails, or picks attached to fingers, as opposed to flatpicking. The term "fingerstyle" is something of a misnomer, since it is present in several different genres and styles of music—but mostly, because it involves a completely different technique, not just a "style" of playing, especially for the guitarist's picking/plucking hand. The term is often used synonymously with fingerpicking except in classical guitar circles, although fingerpicking can also refer to a specific tradition of folk, blues and country guitar playing in the US. The terms "fingerstyle" and "fingerpicking" also applied to similar string instruments such as the banjo.

Double bass

On double bass it refers to the technique that is a more vigorous version of pizzicato, where the string is plucked so hard that when released it bounces off the finger board, making a distinctive sound. A percussive sound can also made by smacking the strings with some or all of the fingers on the right hand in between the notes of a bassline, usually in time with the snare drum.

Pizzicato Playing technique for string instruments

Pizzicato is a playing technique that involves plucking the strings of a string instrument. The exact technique varies somewhat depending on the type of instrument:

Snare drum type of drum

A snare drum or side drum is a percussion instrument that produces a sharp staccato sound when the head is struck with a drum stick, due to the use of a series of stiff wires held under tension against the lower skin. Snare drums are often used in orchestras, concert bands, marching bands, parades, drumlines, drum corps, and more. It is one of the central pieces in a drum set, a collection of percussion instruments designed to be played by a seated drummer and used in many genres of music.

The earliest players of this technique in American music include Bill Johnson (1872-1972), Theodore "Steve" Brown (1890-1965) [2] , Wellman Braud (1891-1966), Pops Foster (1892-1969), [2] and Chester Zardis (1900-1990).

Steve Brown (bass player) jazz musician best known for his work on string bass

Theodore "Steve" Brown was a jazz musician best known for his work on string bass. Like many New Orleans bassists, he played both string bass and tuba professionally.

Wellman Braud was an American jazz upright bassist. His family sometimes spelled their last name "Breaux", pronounced "Bro".

Pops Foster American musician

George Murphy "Pops" Foster was a jazz musician best known for his vigorous slap bass playing of the string bass. He also played the tuba and trumpet professionally.

Slapping the bass is a technique used by many bands since at least the 1920s; it came into popular use in the 1940s. Slap bass provides a strong downbeat when the string is plucked and a strong back beat when it slaps back onto the fingerboard of the bass. It creates a very percussive sound and adds a lot of drive that is particularly good for dance music. [3]

Yet another explanation is that snapping the strings against the wood of the instrument supplies a crisp, intense sound which can supply the foundation of a dance band. [2] Slap bass was used by Western Swing and Hillbilly Boogie musicians. It became an important component of an early form of rock and roll that combined blues and what was then called hillbilly music—a musical style now referred to as rockabilly. Bill Black, who played with Elvis Presley and Scotty Moore was a well-known slap bass player The technique inspired the George and Ira Gershwin song "Slap That Bass".

Jimbo Wallace from the Reverend Horton Heat band is a slap bass performer. Jimbo Wallace.JPG
Jimbo Wallace from the Reverend Horton Heat band is a slap bass performer.

Slap bass continues to be used in the 21st century, as it is widely used by modern rockabilly and psychobilly band bassists, including Kim Nekroman (Nekromantix), Geoff Kresge (Tiger Army), Scott Owen (The Living End) and Jimbo Wallace (The Reverend Horton Heat). Kresge's rapid slapping ability is all the more remarkable given that for much of his career he was an electric bassist. The top rockabilly and psychobilly bassists have developed the ability to perform rapid triplet slaps at the same time as they play a walking bassline.

Bass guitar

On bass guitar, slapping usually refers to a percussive playing technique most commonly used in funk, disco, soul, R&B, jazz, country music, rock, and many other genres. The style sounds much more percussive than regular plucking of notes with the soft part of the plucking hands fingers, and is also usually louder (although on an electric instrument, the volume can be adjusted with the volume knob or through compression), brighter, and more distinct than the sound of a bass guitar played with the usual plucking or pick techniques.

The slap sound comes from the combination of two elements: slapping, which involves striking the string with the side of the bony joint in the middle of the thumb, a harder surface than the pads of the fingers (used in plucked fingering); and intentionally allowing the vibrating string to come into contact with the metal frets, producing a "toney" or buzzing sound that is normally avoided in plucked/fingered bass.

The typical position of the slapping hand Typical form of a slapping hand in a bass.jpg
The typical position of the slapping hand

In the slap technique, the bassist replaces the usual plucking motion of the index and middle fingers with "slaps" and "pops". In the slap, the bassist uses the thumb to strike the strings (usually the lower E and A strings) near the base of the guitar's neck. In the pop, the bassist will use the index or middle finger of the plucking hand to snap the strings (usually the higher D and G strings) away from the body of the bass, causing them to bounce off the fretboard; this produces a prominent buzzing tone with a sharp attack and more high-frequency vibrations than present in plucked bass.

The bassist can play many notes quickly by rotating the forearm, alternately slapping and popping: during the pop, the hand moves away from the fretboard, "winding up" or getting in position for the next slap. The slap and pop techniques are commonly used with pull-offs and hammer-ons with the fretting (usually left) hand, to further increase the rate at which notes may be played. Ghost notes, or notes played with the string damped, are also commonly played in slap bass to increase the percussive feel of the technique.

The invention of slap on electric bass guitar is generally credited to funk bassist Larry Graham. [4] Graham has stated in several interviews that he was trying to emulate the sound of a drum set before his band had found its drummer. Graham himself refers to the technique as "thumpin′ and pluckin′". [4]

Selected slap bass players

Mark King of Level 42 using the slapping technique in a concert in 2017 Mark King Kongsberg Jazzfestival 2017 (214451).jpg
Mark King of Level 42 using the slapping technique in a concert in 2017

Some prominent bass guitar players known for their use of slapping in their playing include:

Variants

There are numerous variants of the slapping technique. Some bassists use other fingers of the strumming hand to achieve this sound, such as bassist Abraham Laboriel, Sr., who uses his thumb to pop the strings, and his other four fingers to slap the strings. Bassist Victor Wooten uses a double thump technique which is like a slap, but uses both sides of the thumb for all the strings, fast enough to produce the equivalent of a drumroll on the bass guitar.

Funk fingers invented by progressive rock bass player Tony Levin create a similar sound by using a hard surface to strike the strings and intentionally cause string contact with the fretboard. Spank bass developed from the slap and pop style and treats the electric bass as a percussion instrument, striking the strings above the pickups with an open palmed hand.

The slap technique bears some resemblance to tambour, a percussive technique used in flamenco and classical guitar[ citation needed ], although the tonal quality produced in this technique is quite different from that of a slapped electric bass. Japanese musician Miyavi is well known for creating a unique slapping style of playing electric guitars. [8] Tosin Abasi, guitarist for progressive metal band Animals as Leaders, is also known for a slapping and popping technique on electric guitar, which he uses for both melodic and percussive effect.

Use in television and films

Related Research Articles

Guitar fretted string instrument

The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that usually has six strings. It is typically played with both hands by strumming or plucking the strings with either a guitar pick or the finger(s)/fingernails of one hand, while simultaneously fretting with the fingers of the other hand. The sound of the vibrating strings is projected either acoustically, by means of the hollow chamber of the guitar, or through an electrical amplifier and a speaker.

String instrument musical instrument that generates tones by one or more strings stretched between two points

String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instruments that produce sound from vibrating strings when the performer plays or sounds the strings in some manner.

Larry Graham American bass guitar player

Larry Graham Jr. is an American bass guitar player and singer, both with the psychedelic soul/funk band Sly and the Family Stone, and as the founder and frontman of Graham Central Station. He is credited with the invention of the slapping technique, which radically expanded the tonal palette of the bass, although he himself refers to the technique as "thumpin' and pluckin' ".

The fingerboard is an important component of most stringed instruments. It is a thin, long strip of material, usually wood, that is laminated to the front of the neck of an instrument. The strings run over the fingerboard, between the nut and bridge. To play the instrument, a musician presses strings down to the fingerboard to change the vibrating length, changing the pitch. This is called stopping the strings. Depending on the instrument and the style of music, the musician may pluck, strum or bow one or more strings with the hand that is not fretting the notes. On some instruments, notes can be sounded by the fretting hand alone, such as with hammer ons, an electric guitar technique.

Bassline

A bassline is the term used in many styles of music, such as jazz, blues, funk, dub and electronic, traditional music, or classical music for the low-pitched instrumental part or line played by a rhythm section instrument such as the electric bass, double bass, cello, tuba or keyboard. In unaccompanied solo performance, basslines may simply be played in the lower register of any instrument such as guitar or piano while melody and/or further accompaniment is provided in the middle or upper register. In solo music for piano and pipe organ, these instruments have an excellent lower register that can be used to play a deep bassline. On organs, the bass line is typically played using the pedal keyboard and massive 16' and 32' bass pipes.

Extended technique

In music, extended technique is unconventional, unorthodox, or non-traditional methods of singing or of playing musical instruments employed to obtain unusual sounds or timbres.

Guitar solo

A guitar solo is a melodic passage, instrumental section, or entire piece of music written for a classical guitar, electric guitar or an acoustic guitar. In the 20th and 21st century traditional music and popular music such as blues, swing, jazz, jazz fusion, rock and metal guitar solos often contain virtuoso techniques and varying degrees of improvisation. Guitar solos on classical guitar, which are typically written in musical notation, are also used in classical music forms such as chamber music and concertos.

Jazz bass musical technique; use of the double bass or bass guitar to improvise accompaniment ("comping") basslines and solos in a jazz or jazz fusion style

Jazz bass is the use of the double bass or bass guitar to improvise accompaniment ("comping") basslines and solos in a jazz or jazz fusion style. Players began using the double bass in jazz in the 1890s to supply the low-pitched walking basslines that outlined the chord progressions of the songs. From the 1920s and 1930s Swing and big band era, through 1940s Bebop and 1950s Hard Bop, to the 1960s-era "free jazz" movement, the resonant, woody sound of the double bass anchored everything from small jazz combos to large jazz big bands.

Strum

In music, strumming is a way of playing a stringed instrument such as a guitar, ukulele, or mandolin. A strum or stroke is a sweeping action where a finger or plectrum brushes over several strings to generate sound. On most stringed instruments, strums are typically executed by a musician's designated strum hand, while the remaining hand often supports the strum hand by altering the tones and pitches of any given strum.

Electric upright bass

The electric upright bass (EUB) is an instrument that can perform the musical function of a double bass. It requires only a minimal or 'skeleton' body to produce sound because it uses a pickup and electronic amplifier and loudspeaker. Therefore,a large resonating structure is not required to project the sound into the air. This minimal body greatly reduces the bulk and weight of the instrument. EUBs must always be connected to an amplifier and speaker cabinet to produce an adequate audible sound. However,the EUB retains enough of the features of the double bass so that double bass players are able to perform on it.

An extended-range bass is an electric bass guitar with a wider frequency range than a standard-tuned four-string bass guitar.

Outline of guitars Overview of and topical guide to guitars

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to guitars:

Guitar picking is a group of hand and finger techniques a guitarist uses to set guitar strings in motion to produce audible notes. These techniques involve plucking, strumming, brushing, etc. Picking can be done with:

Ghost note

In music, a ghost note is a musical note with a rhythmic value, but no discernible pitch when played. In musical notation, this is represented by an "X" for a note head instead of an oval, or parentheses around the note head. It should not be confused with the X-shaped notation that raises a note to a double sharp.

Jimbo Wallace

Jimbo Wallace is an upright and electric bass player, vocalist, and songwriter in the psychobilly and rockabilly genres. He has played bass in the Reverend Horton Heat band since 1989. He is the most-tattooed member of the band.

References

  1. Woods, Chris (2013). Percussive Acoustic Guitar . Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 6. ISBN   9781458459640.
  2. 1 2 3 Cary Ginell, Milton Brown and the Founding of Western Swing, University of Illinois Press, 1994, p. 252. ISBN   0-252-02041-3 see also: The Jazz Book. Lawrence Hill, 1975, pp. 278–84; The Complete Encyclopedia of Popular Music and Jazz House. 1974. pp. 923–24.
  3. Text from Experience Music Project in Seattle, WA.
  4. 1 2 "Larry Graham: Trunk of the Funk Tree", Bass Player magazine, April 2007.
  5. http://www.delafont.com/music_acts/lakeside.htm
  6. http://larrygraham.com/home
  7. http://andresmusictalk.wordpress.com/tag/george-johnson/
  8. "Wrasse Records Biography". Wrasse Records. Retrieved May 2, 2014.