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Norm Stockton: Pondering Bass Technique
From Bass Pyrotechnics To Art - 07/07/04

Art of Groove DVD In his most advanced presentation to date from the Grooving For Heaven bass instructional video series, bassist Norm Stockton demystifies many of the most popular techniques utilized in the vocabulary of contemporary bass playing. In his analysis, Stockton breaks down a broad palette of bass techniques including slapping, tapping, chords, harmonics, and palm muting. Stockton begins by explaining the fundamental mechanics of slap techniques, the most extensive section of the program. From single string slaps and plucks to double thumbing and plucking, Stockton provides forty exercises to assist in the control, accuracy, consistency, and refinement of your slap technique while considering musical sensitivity and the assimilation of these techniques into the most appropriate musical context.

In the chapter outlining the elements of tapping, Stockton presents several exercises to aid in obtaining independence between your right and left hands along with musical applications displaying the primary ways Stockton uses arpeggio shapes, single-string, and chordal tapping techniques. To demonstrate some of the numerous chording opportunities on electric bass, Stockton offers a number of possible variations on minor 7th, major 7th, dominant 7th, diminished, augmented, and half-diminished chord voicings in multiple positions on the fingerboard.

In the chapter titled A Spectrum of Tones: Chimes, Thuds, & Swells, Stockton explores the timbres that can be created with artificial harmonics, palm muting, and volume swells. Stockton then addresses how to combine many of these techniques into a tapestry of parts as dictated by the music followed by a brief discussion of his favorite effects to reinforce and enhance bass parts. Stockton's lesson concludes with an introduction to the concept of solo bass arranging using factors such as implied harmony through sparse chord voicings.

Throughout the duration of the program, Stockton demonstrates how each of the techniques discussed can be employed with a number of featured performances of several original compositions and arrangements including "A Tender NAMM Moment", "Pondering The Sushi", "The Star Spangled Banner", "Veggie Soup", "Come Before Winter", "The Cedars Of Lebanon", "Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring", and "Angels We Have Heard On High." A special features section includes many "minus-bass" play-along tracks from Stockton's critically-acclaimed debut solo recording, Pondering The Sushi, such as "The Race", "Pondering The Sushi", "Blessed", "A Tender NAMM Moment", and "Veggie Soup."

An additional benefit of the dvd format found in the chapter list options allows the user to jump to any specific exercise contained within that section.

Bottom Line: For less than the price of a single private lesson, Norm Stockton has packed enough information into Pondering Bass Technique to keep even the most dedicated students in the woodshed for months. With over 2 hours of instruction from one of the finest bass educators in the world today, Pondering Bass Technique will equip you with the tools to pursue your musical creativity and express the widest range of tonal colors available to contemporary bass players using unconventional techniques. For more information on Norm Stockton and Pondering Bass Technique, visit: NormStockton.com.

C. Engel

This page reproduced by the kind permission of International Institute of Bassists.

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