Volume 4, November 2012
Walk That Dog: The Emergence of Walking Bass Lines In Jazz

by Regan Brough

Section 3 — Slap-Bass Technique

As alluded by Pops Foster, slap bass was another common accompanying technique. Slap-bass technique incorporates the pizzicato style mentioned above (Bartok-esque) and adds slapping the inner palm and/or fingers against the lower strings to provide a percussive and rhythmic accompaniment. The early pioneers of this practice were Bill Johnson, Steve Brown, and Pops Foster—all natives of New Orleans. Throughout the 1920s, this practice was widely adopted by many other bass players (Wellman Braud, Thelma Terry, Al Morgan, Milt Hinton, etc.) and while walking bass lines were at times executed in this style, it was largely a way for bassists to increase rhythmic intensity in accompaniment or to cut through the band in a solo.14