Expanding the Slap Bass Vocabulary by Ray Riendeau
I have always loved the sound of slap bass. Early on it was cats like Larry Grahm and Louis Johnson that opened my ears and mind to this style of bass playing. For me the marriage of notes & rhythm in this percussive style has always been intriguing.
Over the years players like Victor Wooten and Marcus Miller have expanded this style even more. In fact I believe that we’ve only scratched the surface with what can be created with this style of playing. As with any technique the ultimate goal is to create music.
In this series of articles I would like to cover a lot of the newer techniques and approaches of the slap style of bass playing. I feel there is an abundance of materials that cover “traditional” methods of this style but their lacks information regarding newer techniques such as double thumbing, double & triple popping, slap arpeggios and linear slap to name a few.
All these approaches are designed to give you the freedom to play in the same way we do with finger style playing but using slap techniques. I find that most bass players play differently when they switch to the slap style. It usually entails playing mostly octaves, pentatonic scales and even playing simplified harmonically. Hopefully these series of articles will give you the player some insights and new approaches that will allow you to gain a bigger vocabulary of ideas to use and play in the slap style.
I welcome to you to contact me with any ideas, suggestions or questions. When I was approached about doing these articles I was most excited by the fact that there can be an interaction of myself and with you the readers. Being an online magazine also opens up the doors to all kinds of media that can be used. I plan on giving written examples along with sound and video for the topics discussed, this in itself is quite revolutionary and I look forward to being part of what I consider a much needed and wanted educational side to bass playing and music in general. I’m very honored and pleased to be part of Bass Musician Magazine.
I thought in this first article I’d leave you with a short list of music that showcases some of the slap approaches and techniques I will be discussing in the future. These are just a few songs and players that in my opinion are expanding the role of slap bass.
- Michael Manring – HELIOS
- Marcus Miller – POWER, TEEN TOWN, PANTHER, SCOOP, COME TOGETHER, BRUCE LEE
- Victor Wooten – DONNA LEE, U CAN’T HOLD NO GROOVE, CLASSICAL THUMP, ME & MY BASS GUITAR, CHEROKEE, SINISTER MINISTER
- Ray Riendeau – ORNITHOLOGY, LIQUID, GROOVE THERAPY, LOTUS SUTRA
- Adam Nitti – FLY LIKE AN EAGLE, FRITTER BOY, VIC DOM 1
- Alain Caron – SLAM THE CLOWN, JACK CANNON, D-CODE
I’ve also included the song “Liquid” from my first solo CD “All Funked Up” so you can sample some of my playing. Just scroll to the bottom and click on the link, Download Liquid.mp3