Today, in this video we’ll be looking at the fingerstyle funk of Rocco Prestia and Tower Of Power with probably the most famous of his lines by way of the song What Is Hip?

This is a great test of your stamina and technique and I’d recommend using this song as a study piece for developing bass players in any style.

What Is Hip? Intro Line

This mostly takes the form of an extremely insistent rhythm of rapid sixteenth notes, with a pedal on the E. Because of the pace, you’ll want to practice this at a lower tempo first to make sure it’s really under your fingers. While there’s not a great deal of movement, it’s obviously important to hit the right notes in the right places!

On the face of it, you might even think this line sounds simple – but in fact it’s full of little anticipations, the syncopation is difficult to master, the muted tone has to be right, and your finger technique has to be bang on in order to really nail it. I think it’s important to start with your index finger rather than your middle finger as some of you might, because in order to move around the line I think you’ll find it much easier to begin here. Practice emphasising the 4th note of the rhythm.

The other important aspect of this track is the cool, thudding sound Rocco gets. I recommend half-muting the string with the lightest of touch of the non fretting fingers.

To help you get it, I’ve provided backing drum tracks at three different tempi: 90bpm, 100bpm, and finally at the song’s original 120bpm.

Practice Tracks:

What Is Hip? Verse Line

The bassline in the verse begins effectively repeating the intro line with a minor change at the start. In the second half it is enlivened by a couple of chromatic runs that give the song so much of its distinctive flavour. As with the intro line, this is all about the insistent feel of the rhythm – plenty of muted attack that helps you bounce through the notes.

Pay particular attention to which finger you use for fretting – moving between your index and middle fingers can really help you move smoothly between strings on those chromatic lines while maintaining the rhythm.

As before, here are drum tracks at three different tempos. Enjoy!

Practice Tracks:

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