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Grace notes or how to "Make it funky!"


alexclaber

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I thought I'd let them have their own thread, those little acciaturae and appoggiaturae that we bassists too often forget. Sliding up, sliding down, hammering on, pulling off, raking, leaping; so many ways you can do it. And so many note choices; chromatic, chord notes, scale notes. And to use them when heading for the root, or one of the other notes in the riff/chord/scale, or just as a little funky squiggle. And you don't need great technique, you just need to loosen up and get greasy instead of always nailing those big notes.

 

Why am I going on about this? Larry Graham and Victor Wooten. Victor is an awesome bassist, an excellent musician, performer, teacher, etc and by all accounts and impressions a good human being of the highest order. And he is indisputably funky and has taken slap playing to another level. However... Much as I'd like to be able to slap machine gun triplets a la Victor AND be able to make them grooving and funky, I have no time to find whether I have the talent to pull it off.

 

Larry on the other hand is the originator, the funkmeister supreme, the godfather of slap and the most righteous wearer of a white suit I have ever seen (yes, IMO he tops Al Green). And his technique, whilst impeccable (his groove and timing is on an almost unparalleled level but you don't need to be quite that superhuman to make a Larry groove happen) is within reach for mere mortals that didn't start playing bass before they could walk. And so much of the time, Larry just plays the deepest simplest, octave based lines, walking up and down and doing nothing flash, but making those notes really count and greasing things up with little slides, hammer ons, ghost notes (they're another, bigger, thread in themselves) and it's all so EASY. You just have to get loose and feel the funk.

 

And now, I shall return my regularly scheduled dose of Hair.

 

Alex

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Victor CAN be funky.

 

Larry Graham IS funky.

 

Big difference.

 

I love what Vic's doing, but he doesn't inspire me to do anything but practice. Larry, on the other hand, convinces me to take the hand of that big butt girl I have been staring at all night long so that we can approach the nearest dance floor and get carnal.

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Larry's the only guy I even like to hear slap. The only two guitarists I like to hear tap are Van Halen and Jeff Beck.

 

Larry's one and two fret slides with Sly are so great tho - good post.

 

Those Sly-era grace notes are easy to play I guess, but like you implied it takes a TON of feel, not just chops. Larry had them both tho - like on my favorite solo album of his, "Release Yourself." I sometimes ask my teacher to play the title track just to see it done - Larry plays it with his thumb, but using it like a pick! Wellll, not like a pick with the bent thumb - he holds his thumb taut and then strums it.

 

Grace notes are so vital. A ton of James Brown's bass stuff is great just to learn the value of the grace note. For the kind of stuff I like, doing a lot with a little is a prerequisite.

 

Like in a blues song: You can either be boring and play a standard blues progression, or you can really funk it up with the grace notes.

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I'm mostly not funky. But I love anything I can do to change things up. I love playing some repeating root note section by sliding up to the note each time. And don't forget trills....

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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