Oon, Generation Esmeralda, Girls Got The Blues
When Bass Player presented Solo Bass Night 5 at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley,
California, Ariane Cap was captivating. The Austrian transplant can be found grooving in San Francisco Bay Area bands with
styles ranging from punk to blues to jazz, but on this bass-centric evening, she proved she could hold an audience on her own.
And when she brought out bassoonist Paul Hanson (Béla Fleck, Eddie Money, Dennis Chambers) to showcase their new duo
project, Oon, their rendition of “Dear Prudence” was particularly fascinating. Cap demonstrated sick tapping skills on her Marleaux
6-string, and about three-fourths of the way through the Beatles classic, she reversed her hands on the fingerboard and
rebooted the groove via overhand tapping. Cool! Cap, a dedicated educator, was happy to take us to school.
How did you come to employ overhand tapping on “Dear Prudence”?
A lot of the techniques I apply to Oon come from the desire to create sonic
variety, and to fulfill harmonic and foundational roles simultaneously. One day I
started playing a double-thump/slap thing that’s a hybrid of techniques I picked
up from Kai Eckhardt and Victor Wooten. Paul immediately suggested applying
it to “Dear Prudence.” It worked great for the intro and head. For Paul’s solo
section, I went with a driving two-handed tapping pattern.
While I was grooving I remembered the beauty of McCartney’s original bass
line, and realized that I needed to nod my head to it in this section while keeping
the groove going. I figured it out theoretically, but I could not sort it out comfortably
for the left hand. So I simply flipped my hands in order to give the right hand
a superior angle for the busy pattern, while the left walked the line down from
the octave D. I can’t really see my right hand when I do it, so I have to play by feel.
What’s a good way to develop that ability?
I practice playing without looking at the fingerboard. I also pay close attention to
dynamics when I learn a new technique. If I can play something convincingly from very
soft to very loud, then I have come closer to mastering it and can express nuances.
What makes “Dear Prudence” a good vehicle for tapping?
The song offers a lot of options for the use of pedal tones, which work great with
tapping. The bass line is active and busy with a somewhat unexpected accent on the
last 16th-note of beats two and four, which creates a floating feel and an interesting
context for the sparse melody.
What are some core concepts a player needs
to nail when tapping?
Tapping is not about force or strength; it’s about
subtlety and coordination. Both hands face new challenges
of stability—keeping energetically anchored
down, yet free to operate. It helps to occasionally check
for any extra hand tension that might work against
finger movement. I like the feeling when the bass is
anchored in position and my hands and I become one,
so I pay close attention to posture. A good setup is also
key. I like low action and thin strings for tapping, but
I also want a round and rattle-free tone for grooving,
so it’s always somewhat of a compromise.
Do you have any parting thoughts for those
interested in exploring overhand tapping?
Lots of new harmonic ideas can come from having
both hands interact on the fingerboard. Try coming
up with a pattern; then keep the top the same while
moving the bottom, and then try moving the bottom
while the top remains consistent. Context is crucial,
so make sure to bring such ideas into a situation that
makes musical sense.
Oon, Polaris [Oonband.com, 2013]
Basses Marleaux Consat
with Bartolini pickups
(Oon), various other
Strings Dean Markley
SR 2696 or 2697
Rig “I prefer going
direct with Oon.
Otherwise it’s either
a Nemesis NC210
combo or an Eden
WT800 head with
Eden D210XLT and/or
Effects TC Electronic
ND-1 Nova Delay, Boss
Digital Reverb, Zoom
Other Gruv Gear Fret-
Wraps really help with
muting the 6-string
Watch Oon play “Dear
Prudence” at the
Freight & Salvage in