In piano lingo, “action” describes the way the piano keys feel when you press on them. With a digital piano, the closer the action is to that of an acoustic piano, the better. Semi-weighted action uses a spring to create the resistance felt when pressing a key and its rebound when you lift your finger. Hammer action uses a hammer mechanism like that found in an acoustic piano to replicate the feel. Graded, or progressive, hammer action takes that a step further by increasing the weight of the action as you descend to the lower notes on the keyboard. Using a keyboard with weighted action is beneficial for multiple reasons. It helps build finger strength while practicing (a spring-based action will only minimally address this), and it allows for more variation and musicality in the way you play a note. While a piano keyboard might look like nothing more than a bunch of on/off switches, in reality there’s a range of volumes and timbres that can be achieved depending on how quickly or strongly you depress the keys. Hammer action best replicates those possibilities.
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However, contemporary classical composers may also write for the bass guitar to get its unique sound, and in particular its precise and piercing attack and timbre. For example, Steve Reich, explaining his decision to score 2x5 for two bass guitars, stated that, "[With electric bass guitars] you can have interlocking bass lines, which on an acoustic bass, played pizzicato, would be mud."[62]
In some cases, to play the bass through PA amplification, it is plugged into a direct box or DI, which routes the signal to the bass amp while also sending the signal directly into a mixing console, and thence to the main and monitor speakers. When a recording of bass is being made, engineers may use a microphone set up in front of the amplifier's speaker cabinet for the amplified signal, a direct box signal that feeds the recording console, or a mix of both.
Heavy metal bass players such as Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath), Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse), Cliff Burton (Metallica), and Les Claypool (Primus, Blind Illusion) have used chime-like harmonics and rapid plucking techniques in their bass solos. Geddy Lee of Rush has made frequent use of bass solos, such as on the instrumental "YYZ". In both published Van Halen concert videos, Michael Anthony performs unique maneuvers and actions during his solos. Funk bassists such as Larry Graham began using slapping and popping techniques for their solos, which coupled a percussive thumb-slapping technique of the lower strings with an aggressive finger-snap of the higher strings, often in rhythmic alternation. The slapping and popping technique incorporates a large number of muted (or 'ghost' tones) to normal notes to add to the rhythmic effect. Slapping and popping solos were prominent in 1980s pop and R&B, and they are still used by some modern funk and Latin bands.
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