This week we’re going to look at the coolest bass line in the world ever! (IMHO!) Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick by Ian Dury & The Blockheads. It’s played by the awesome Norman Watt Roy and is one hell of a great workout and introduction to 16th note fingerstyle funk playing!

Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick

Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick contains three great riffs that all provide a challenge so we’ll have a look at all of them:

Intro Riff

Practice Track:

Verse Riff

Practice Track:

Chorus Riff

Practice Track:

Tip #1: Timing

The first note of both the Intro and Verse riffs takes place on the final 16th note of the bar. To catch that rhythm be sure to subdivide and count the 16th notes. This is essential when aiming for accuracy.

Therefore, on the count-in be sure to count 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 e and (A)

You can vocalize in any way you like so you could also count as Ti – Ki – Ta – (Ba). Or any kind of vocalization you prefer.

Tip #2: Track Your Finger Picking

One of the biggest problems you’re likely to face on a long, quick fire line like this is the fingerpicking. It’s really easy to become finger twisted and end up on the ‘wrong’ finger at certain points. Small technical issues and deficiencies can have a major impact on the feel and groove.

To remedy this problem, be sure to track which finger of the picking hand matches up to each note in the fretting hand. For example, take note of which finger you start the riff and focus on whether you alternate or rake certain notes as you work through the line. Use particular notes as waypoints as you progress.

Tip #3: Double Note Octaves

In the chorus you’ll have to contend with the doubles on the lower notes of each octave pattern. Try to stick to the same fingerpicking pattern as you work through and be consistent. I personally prefer to play with an index-middle-index pattern. Play this sequence on each octave.

Start out slow and just practice the rhythm on an F octave. Build up speed until the muscle memory is kicking in. Then try working through the riff.

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