Prince – Let’s Work…
Some very rare and unusual thing is going on digthatbass.com – a SLAP bass lesson just appeared from nowhere! Wow!
…And the subject of this slap lesson is no less than Prince ( O(+> or TAFKAP) – singer, songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist, entertainer, an amazing artist. I really got into his music when one of my friends working in a studio showed me some YouTube clips of his shows and I have been amazed since. For me, he is truly a soul artist; while he is a professional entertainer there is so much feeling, teasing exuberance in his music that you almost cannot bear it – in a positive sense 🙂
And you are asking why there is a bass lesson about Prince then? Well, if not from other sources since Vic Wooten’s instructional video you know that Prince is one badass funky bassplayer and I also love tasty slap bass lines that are not about “howfasticango” or “listenwhatcooltripletpatternipractised” – and Prince’s playing is a fine example for that. Let’s Work is a song from the 1981 album Controversy (BUY IT on Amazon or iTunes) and is definitely widely known among bassists (probably due to the aforementioned Wooten video) and has been covered by many. The two best covers I have seen were Blyss’s and MarloweDK’s cover, both have been sadly taken off YouTube… I hope my won’t be taken down that is why I really ENCOURAGE you to buy that song by Prince so he won’t file a million-dollar case against me, hopefully 🙂
In the video you’ll see a short introduction, followed by a full speed demonstration, then a half-speed version – you will see that I play some variations, these are scattered throughout the song (not necessarily following each other) and I play them this way to spare time and show you as many snippets as possible in a short amount of time. Also, I have to notice I do not play all the variations which occur in the song so you can still have some fun discovering new ones for yourself. Lastly I say a few things about the bassline itself, some points to notice and consider when you are learning this – let’s have a quick written summary about those point mentioned:
– the bass line itself is spacious – by that I mean that there are not really many notes played but they are placed amazingly. Listen how it plays tightly together with the drums. If you listen closely you can also notice that they also leave each other some spaces – where you would expect (or actually) play a dead slap note there are only drums. They complement each other and make music more interesting while fooling your ears as well. (or at least that’s how I hear it – I’d love to hear the bass master track seperately 🙂
– short and long notes – listen to the first six notes – first is slightly longer followed by three staccatoed notes and there is that magical bent / vibratoed note which is again like a smeared longish note. All of these notes are slapped with the thumb (no pops yet!) and then there is a left hand hammer-on from that bent note without the right hand slapping at all – you’ll have notice such subtleties 🙂 these four six notes are just so funky I could listen to them for hours!
– patterns/shapes/note choices – I remember hearing Louis Johnson say that in that era when you wanted a hit song, you put slap bass in it. And there were many slap bass songs but most of them utilized open string slapping (key of E, A) or octave slapping. If you look at Prince’s note choices you notice that he is playing sixths and fifths – a simple trick, yet the bass line still sounds fresh because of that!
– muting – with open string slapping, muting is easy, yet these shapes require a bit more attention when it comes to muting – look at the slow version as a reference point but as we have different hands you might have to adjust yours to your comfort.
– feel – yep, as always, hard to emulate because of the unique time fell Prince has. For that I recommend a practice method which seems to be less known to some people – set the metronome to straight quarter notes without having beat 1 accented. Begin to think of the clicks as 2s and 4s – basically the snare hits on a basic drum groove. That way you’ll have to begin playing on a rest – that will greatly improve your time feel – you have to be pretty confident in playing the 1s and yet you’ll have a feeling of the backbeat since the metronome is giving you it 🙂 If you practice the line like this you’ll get a more solid time sense and you’ll probably get to feel the motions of pulling forward and backward. give this a method a try 🙂
Support Prince and buy his original music and art!
For registered digthatbass.com members, there is the GuitarPro5 file and a PDF available – CLICK TO VIEW ARTICLE! NOTE! In the guitar pro file, unfortunately due to program limitations, the pop notes (noted by ‘P’) are not labeled – that’s because you have to keep the previous note ringing and guitar pro is only capable of marking a note either as a ringing note or as a popped note… sorry about that, on the PDF and in the video, it is labeled correctly!