Music and Songwriting/The Songwriter's Grooves Project - A Guide to Singing and Playing Guitar/The Double Bass Technique Song Series/Everyday People

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Everyday People - Sly and the Family Stone - with a guitar arrangement by Jon Michael Swift[edit | edit source]

Introductory Lesson Link

This was a landmark song in music history for a number of reasons, but it also has some very valuable features

History[edit | edit source]

This song was one of a slew of early hits for Sly and the Family Stone. It was influential for the stylistic development of early funk. Among other things, Larry Graham has stated that this is the first song where his 'Thumping and Plucking' technique was used on a record. This song was also an example of the Family Stones thematic focus on unity and anti-prejudice, which was not nearly as prevalent or widely accepted in the pre-Civil Rights era. Their stylistic innovations and bold lyrical content made Sly and the Family Stone critical architects of the Funk and Soul genres.

Flagship Recordings/Performances[edit | edit source]

Modern Music Video for the Original Record Song

Band Live on TV in 1987

Playing tips[edit | edit source]

This song is ideal for learning new types of strokes. The intermediate and basic lessons on this song are both used to introduce new types of strokes. It's nice to have a song that's easy and gives a real context to use new types of strokes, so be sure to take time to really listen to the sound of your strokes, watch your hand position, and lay the best foundation through this song so when you go onto harder songs you have good habits to build off of.

Lessons[edit | edit source]

Basic[edit | edit source]

Video Link

Tab Link

Lesson Notes[edit | edit source]

This is the bass guitar version of the song. It's reputed to be the song where the Funk Bass Slap technique was first used on record, so it shows the technique in it's simplest form. The song isn't very fast, and the bass part only plays one note over one very simple rhythm. This really captures the essence of the funk bass technique; it has less to do with flashy complexity and more to do with the vibe of the song. It also puts the emphasis on laying a tight rhythm. There are not fancy notes to hide behind; it's just you and the drummer. Even in this early lesson, there is also a special attention to articulation, or how the notes are played. The rhythm of this part is made by a partial muting of the first of two bass notes. In funk bass, there are a lot of different techniques used to shorten or mute notes, and the variety of different ways notes are played is what gives the style it's unique rhythmic flavor. Even when you have only one note the whole song, you'll see the essence of the funk style: it's note what you do, it's how you do it!

Ways to slap/thump the bass[edit | edit source]

This song only requires one type of picking hand stroke, and that's a slap or thump. That being said, there's more than one way to slap a bass, and now's a good time to decide how you want to do it. In the technique series there's an intro video on 'ways to slap a bass.' Go check it out and make some decisions on how you want to start playing.

There are three basic ways to approach slapping the bass with your thumb. The first is the sideways technique where your arm is basically pointing across the strings perpendicularly and you just rotate your arm. This is the easiest and most powerful way to slap, but also has the risk of being the noisiest and the least versatile. I know some guys who are very good at slapping this way, but it requires some good muting techniques, which makes it much harder to move around strings and be tight rhtyhmically.

The second way is to bounce off the strings but with your thumb running parallel to the strings. This makes it easier to be accurate and not hit extra strings, though it definitely takes some practice. Even with this technique I advise carefully muting the other strings. This technique gives your fingers a little more access to do plucks/pops, and it's a very bouncy way to play. Flea is a famous bass player who prefers this technique.

The third way, and the way I (Jon Michael Swift) prefer this most is to slap through the strings into the next string. It takes a little more time to master the attack angle for the hand, but it has several huge advantages over the other techniques. #1 No risk of hitting extra strings since the thumb lands resting on the nearest string, and mutes it by default. #2 It puts you in a position to double thumb, with is a much more elegant and versatile way to get more strokes into your patterns. Later on this is an asset both to speed and rhythm. Victor Wooten has said that he learned to play the early Larry Graham songs using a double thumb rather than a bouncing technique, since at that early age he couldn't quite get the feel right. In general, this technique is much more relaxed once you get it, and it becomes a very handy tool to opening new rhythmic and technical possibilities. Personally, it's the way I recommend, but any of the ways I've mentioned before are also used by famous players who play extremely well so all are legit.

The key is to take time and master the basic stroke you choose so that it has the right feel and so you can do it consistently with a metronome and/or a drummer. This is a good time to really focus on good technique, being relaxed and sounding good. That will open the door to many good things in the future.

Intermediate[edit | edit source]

Video Link

Tab Link

Lesson Notes[edit | edit source]

This lesson introduces the double-thumb-with-a-thumbpick technique in the double thumb technique series, similar to the way Larry Graham used it to introduce the Thump-and-Pluck bass technique back in the 1960's. It reduces the bass, drums, and basic keyboard parts into a simplified groove which challenges the player to coordinate these special types of combination strokes into a relaxed groove that captures all the essential parts of the song's texture.

Advanced[edit | edit source]

Video Link

Tab Link

Lesson Notes[edit | edit source]

Song Stats[edit | edit source]

Notable techniques

Original Key



Key fingering

SWG Level/Sequences

Practice logs[edit | edit source]

Player Name

Previous Experience

Current Playing Level of the Song

Minutes in Practice Room

Link to Song Performance

sequence links