Sebene/Soukous African Bass Lesson & TAB Download (Pdf & GuitarPro) – 07

The above video lesson displays a sebene or soukous bass line; I’m playing it with a thumbpick and fingerpicks. All you need is to get the tablature and start practicing! While as a genre, the African rumba had many different names, soukous was usually the name of the style, while sebene was the instrumental break that carried even more energy and stronger rhythmic/melodic statements as the verses. Throughout the years, things got a bit murkier, and these days, when someone mentions sebene or seben, they might actually mean the genre itself. And they’re not wrong. The song starts on the 5th fret under the A string, and since this note is the tonic, it means we are in D major key. The tempo doesn’t seem to be too high, but don’t get too relaxed – you’ll see, why.

Lay Back In The Groove – Rinse & Repeat

Sounds simple enough, hey? Indeed, that sums up the starting part of the tune perfectly well. It’s the “sleeper” part of the song: lay down this fine little groovy riff and repeat it four times. There are the now usual syncopation and a couple of fretting position shifts, but overall, this section provides a chance to express your grooving skills. Don’t miss it! Because the next part will bite you in the arse anyway. Hehe.

This Sebene Will Break Your Fingers

bass tab example

This is the section where you’ll really notice that 100BPM. It’s gonna hurt. But don’t give up, it’s fun to go through this pain! -.- We start with skipping the two inner strings (in case of a 4 string bass of course); the thumbpick + fingerpicks style, or even just playing with bare fingers but in the so-called closed palm style makes such moves easy. Of course it’s not impossible to play in other plucking styles either. What makes this section particularly difficult is the way you need to manage your fretting fingers to land on certain frets right on time. For example, just to get that repeated D note on the E string at the 10th fret takes quite the amount of focus. But don’t sweat it, after the first couple hundred attempts, you’ll have it down. Note that there’s a slight variation in every 2nd playthrough of this section. It’s an A note that first time you fret on the A string, up high on the 12th fret. For the second time however, you just pluck the open A string. If you play attention to the video, I actually let this low A note ring out under the closing phrase of this part. It’s of course indicated in the tab as well. All in all, if you can find a finger-order for your fretting hand that’s comfortable enough at slower tempo, you’ll have a chance to get it up to the required 100BPM (or even above it) without mistakes or an overall “slop”. It can be rewarding to get there, and a good hand stretching exercise as well. Enjoy!

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