Keep It Groovy: How To Play The Bass Line To “Cissy Strut”

Today we feature one of the all-time grooviest of bass lines, “Cissy Strut” by The Meters.

With George Porter, Jr. holding it down, the tune has three main sections – two identifiable themes (think A and B section) followed by an extended jam (which usually becomes even more extended when played live).

The A section begins by descending the notes of a Cm7 chord – hello, theory practice! But don’t be fooled, it mixes and matches notes from the major pentatonic as well.

How can this be, you may ask? Well, creative types enjoy breaking the rules, so it’s safe to say that anyone picking up an instrument to play blues, rock, soul, or jazz will have intentions of doing exactly that. Plenty of funk bass lines integrate minor thirds and sevenths with major sixths and ninths – Cissy Strut being a perfect example.

Next, the B section takes advantage of “the box” or notes that can all be played within a span of three frets on the bass. Long story short, there are countless ways to organize just a few notes, mainly the root, octave, fifth, and flat seventh, to play anything from funk grooves to blues shuffles.

Final synopsis: you should know this tune if you plan on jamming with other musicians. It’s a great addition to any bass player’s repertoire and it puts theory and technique to good use.

Ryan Madora is a professional bass player, author, and educator living in Nashville, TN. In addition to touring and session work, she teaches private lessons and masterclasses to students of all levels. Visit her website to learn more!

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  1. Gary Hanson