Bassline Academy – On The Serious Side, Rocco Prestia

‘On The Serious Side’ is another tune from Tower of Power’s album ‘In The Slot’ (if you haven’t already, check out ‘Drop It In The Slot‘ as well!) featuring Rocco’s punchy sound. The whole tune revolves around the same relentless bass pattern almost all the way through, with a short B section interjecting in the middle of the song. The repeating bassline contains a trademark chromatic run up from the 3rd degree of the scale and just keeps going and going! This presents a bit of a stamina challenge on the tuba. I can just about keep my single tonguing going for the whole tune but found that double tonguing is not only easier and more efficient, but also seems to fit better with the way the TOP band play the groove. It’s like the double tongue sound matches the ‘wacka chicka’ type articulation that is going on throughout the tune.

Download the full transcription here: On the Serious Side bass transcription

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Bassline Academy – Drop It In The Slot, Rocco Prestia

When I was studying at university (many moons ago) I would hear many tuba students talk about who they would like to sound like. Names like John Fletcher, Owen Slade, Patrick Harrild and Oren Marshall were some of the tuba players we were trying to emulate. However, for me I also had the sound of Tower of Power’s bass player Rocco Prestia in my head. There’s something about his direct, punchy, fat sound and style I’ve always loved and tried to recreate in my playing. I think that if we aim to make a sound that is beyond someone else playing the same instrument as us, then we may well stretch the possibilities of what we can do on our instrument. One of the most common bits of feedback I get after a gig is ‘I thought that was a bass guitar’, which I usually take as a compliment because when I’m playing any afro-american based style I’m generally not trying to sound like a tuba, but a bass.

Anyway that’s a long winded introduction to my transcription of ‘Drop It In The Slot’ from one of my favourite Tower of Power albums, ‘In The Slot’.

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Rocco’s playing in the A section is quite high on the bass which sits nicely on the tuba. He plays the riff on F7 pretty much unaltered throughout the opening  and only embellishes the tail of the phrase on F#7.

Screen Shot 2018-03-03 at 12.53.49In the B section, however, I’m not sure he plays exactly the same thing twice! There are some rhythmic hooks but he’s mainly freestyling on Dmin using the root, 6th and 7th.

Screen Shot 2018-03-03 at 12.54.32.pngThe outro, after the chromatic shifting of the original riff, is where Rocco starts to let his hair down with some of his trademark semiquaver chromatic runs.

This is a fun tune to play on tuba and I actually think the interactions between the sound of tuba and the rest of the TOP horns works better on a brass bass than an electric one (but I would think that wouldn’t I)!

Download the full bass transcription here.