Playing “In the Pocket” What does that mean? Why do it as a bass player?
“In the Pocket” What?
This mystical term “Playing in the Pocket” may sound like nonsense to the uninitiated or untrained, but to any serious bass player or drummer it is absolute necessity. “In the pocket” is where a solid rhythm section lives. Lets discuss exactly what this phrase means.
Some may say the pocket is the place of consistency of the kick drum, actually playing the same rhythm, and the bass player linking up and playing to that very same rhythm, or playing off that rhythm. Keeping the groove consistent and never losing timing. Others may say of the pocket “Its nothing more than keeping good time and playing a part that sounds good for the song.”. To me the pocket is the rhythmic glue that holds a band, and most good music in general, together.
Get an audience moving
Nothing gets an audience moving like a solid rhythm team, and a solid rhythm team is one of the pocket. Sure most audiences will never be able to point out if a team is “playing in the pocket.” But whether they no the terminology or not, what they will know is they feel like dancing. Good grooves are made from the place of the pocket, there is no compromise to this.
Occasionally I have the pleasure of playing with a young drummer who is very talented. Yet until last year he did not know what I meant when I asked him about the pocket. Mainly because he did not have one. This was a bit aggravating as a bass player. It was even more aggravating trying to continually search for the pocket while playing with him. But I will admit he has some real talent. He went away to a musical camp this summer and is now working on his “pocket.” I played bass with him again this past weekend and it was like night and day. Sure his pocket is not flawless and much more work is required, but he is putting in a great effort nonetheless and the overall feel of that band is considerable better. It was a pleasure to play with him this weekend.