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Funk playing?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Bluez Dawg, Jan 17, 2006.

  1. How hard would it be to learn funk?, Or should I stay with the blues for now and take a few more lessons? :bassist:
  2. Maverick Blues

    Maverick Blues Being a Thumper is all about ATTITUDE!

    Apr 28, 2005
    Richmond, VA
    Go for it!

    My gut (and maybe worthless) feeling is: You don't learn da funk so much as ya feel da funk.

    In other words, keep doing what you're doing, listen to funk you enjoy, have fun playing along with songs you like, jam with friends. One day you'll suddenly realize you're in the pocket and grooving, and what's coming out has a funk attitude.

    I still remember the first time it happened to me... it was so cool. And I looked over at the drummer (probably with a surprised look on my face), and he was just grinnin' ear to ear. :D Wish we'd had the recorder going!

    Once you feel it that first time, you have a baseline (sorry) to work from and it just starts getting easier and easier.

    What does everyone else think?

  3. Rick I think you hit the nail on the head dude, Yesterday I was actually doing my first bassline "standard Am line but a line non the less", anways Yeah I hope to be like that one day, some times I tend to play longer then others, btw what did your drummer say after you're sessons?

    Thanks for a great reply.
  4. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    In the same way as blues is about variations on a basic form and a feel, so is funk. The majority of funk tunes tend to be one or two chord vamps, plus the odd 'riff', and it's really just about the deep repetative, danceable groove :cool:

    There isnt so much a basic form for funk, but there are alot of funk tunes based on the blues, JB's I Feel Good for example. In terms of bass lines, really just lay heavily into beat one and make sure you're in the pocket with the drums. It doesnt matter how many notes you play as long as it grooves... as always :)
    I wouldnt usually recommend choosing 'a scale for a style of music' as it's a sure fire way to limit yourself, BUT, the bass lines tend to be based on dorian or pentatonic minor. Stevie Wonder has many great riffs based on minor pentatonic scales.

    Top listening would be:

    James Brown - obviously! But go for the 60's 'brand new bag, 'cold sweat' 'get it together' era, rather than the later 70's stuff where he want all disco. It grooves deeper

    The Meters - for me, george porter jnr and joseph modeliste are THE funk rhythm section. The album 'Rejuvination' contains the best examples of simple funk grooves I can think of.

    People harp on about funkadelic, bootsy collins etc, but I , try as I might, I dont think these guys groove as hard as the two examples above. There's a lot of psychedelia that gets in the way of the groove, IMO

    You can also get along way by buying a few 'best of..' or funk collection CDs and picking bands you like from there.
  5. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    You may also enjoy listening to Tower of Power with Rocco Prestia. Deep funk!

    Also Booker T & the MGs. Leaned a little more towards R&Bbut have the funky spirit nonetheless.

    And yes - listening to Sir James Brown is essential. I dare you to try sitting still!
  6. Maverick Blues

    Maverick Blues Being a Thumper is all about ATTITUDE!

    Apr 28, 2005
    Richmond, VA
    It's been months and months but I think it was something like, "D*mn, that was fun!" :)

    We were jamming against an original our guitarist was working on. After it was over I apologized for turning it into a funk tune and the drummer was like, "Yeah, didn't MEAN to go there, it just sort of happened..."

    And the guitarist looked at us like we were crazy. "What, are you guys NUTS? That was great!" :D

    George also gets my vote for the hardest-working bassist in the world. Watch "The Deepest End" DVD sometime; not only can Mr. Porter Jr. lay down some serious funk, he can serve up POUNDING eighth-note rock stuff. And don't miss the additional commentary and backstage footage, where you'll see that he left his regular gig across town during a break, rushed over to help Warren out on the final number, then hurried BACK to finish up his regular gig. Talk about dedication... what a guy!

    Ayup. And if you're starting with the blues, there's a lot of "funkified blues" that might benefit you, too. Check out some Big Mike & The Booty Papas for a lot of blues gone funk. Their adaptation of "Tied To The Whipping Post" is just golden. Also, Dave Evans' "Messin' With Me" on the first "Baltimore On Tap" CD combines a 12-bar blues song and progression with jazzy chords and a funky bassline and drums.

    I dig straight-ahead blues, I like many varieties of jazz, I'm into funk. But what does it for me is talented artists who blend the genres together to create something really fresh and original that demands that you move! :)

  7. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Go for it. Maverick was right on.

    Let me add to it though. I consider myself a very good funk player. I was able to play funky grooves before I really understood what was happening, but now after doing it for years I have a better understanding of just what's happening when things start to get funky.

    I believe that funk is all about timing. People think that it's just simple repetitive lines, but it is much more than that. Have you ever tried playing those simple repetitive lines with your band only to find out "Damn, we're not as funky as the recording"? It's all about timing, and that takes years to develop. You have to learn, or "feel", what it means to play behind, on top of, or in front of the beat. You also need a drummer who can do the same.

    For example listen to "Here Comes the Meterman" by the Meters. The drummer is playing the ride cymbal (sounds like a bell) right on top of the beat. The bass line is just behind the beat and I believe that the snare hits are behind the beat as well. This is why it has a funky laid back feel. If you were to try to play this tune with a drummer who didn't have a good sense of time it wouldn't work. You would play on the back of the beat, he'd freak out and slow down so that drums are on top of the bass line, tempo slows, it doesn't sound funky, and no one can figure out why. I grew up with a good drummer friend and we learned this stuff together as kids. We would experiment and try to get things as funky and as sticky as possible. You need a funky drummer to play funky grooves, you can't do it alone unless you're playing with a CD.

    Once you get a sense of this subtle time concept, these simple repetitive bass lines and drum beats become much more complex. It is this often overlooked complexity that makes great funk players so damn funky.

    Work on your timing, play along to your favorite CD's, use a metronome, find a drummer to practice and experiment with, and before you know it you will be funky.

    Good luck.
  8. Maverick Blues

    Maverick Blues Being a Thumper is all about ATTITUDE!

    Apr 28, 2005
    Richmond, VA
    Gotta say: Yes, right on the mark, Zac. Agreed 100%!

    The one thing I'd tweak is to say maybe it takes years to be able to do it consistently, or across any groove, or with any reasonably competent drummer, etc.

    But, I'd been playing for less than a half a year before I literally stumbled into that first funky groove. Now, at about a year, I can "make it funky" with certain beats, on certain songs, with one specific drummer (dunno about any others, I've only played bass against the one so far).

    "Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while..."

    So yeah, just like the bass itself (a brief time to learn, a lifetime to master), you won't be a funkmeister in the short term. But I believe if you have a good "feel" for it you can learn to lay down some funk almost by accident, almost by osmosis. And you can have fun and enjoy what little you can do while picking up more.

    Just didn't want the "years to learn" thing to sound too depressing. :)

  9. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY

    Have you ever known a kid like "Token", from the South Park cartoon? Maybe you've never seen the episode I'm thinking of, but the kids thrown him a bass and he just rips up a taste groove.

    Groove and timing comes much easier to some people. I have my own theory on why this is so. I believe it has to do with your exposure to music at a young age. I'd bet Token's mom had sweet Motown tunes playing on the kitchen radio when he was a child. As a result he developed a "feel" for rhythm. Heck, he's probably a good dancer too. You can have this feel without knowing it. You don't have to know anything at all about music.

    So for some, groove comes easily. For others is can take a lifetime.
  10. Maverick Blues

    Maverick Blues Being a Thumper is all about ATTITUDE!

    Apr 28, 2005
    Richmond, VA
    Hahaha... well, I can rip your theory to shreds, 'cuz I can't dance worth poop. :p

    Oh wait... I can't play bass worth poop either... maybe your theory stands! :rolleyes:

    Seriously, though: I agree with what you're saying. There were hints of it in your prior post too, when you said you were funking before you really understood what it was about. I think it applies to funk specifically, but also to music in general, and in fact to a lot of things. Some people are just "naturals."

    Still seriously: I really can't play bass worth piddly. (What else would you expect with less than a year's exposure?) But I've played alto sax, keys, recorder (the instrument, not the tape/digital thingies), and bass so far. Nothing has felt so right as the bass for me. I felt "at home" with it very quickly... in fact it feels like I've finally found home.

    My technique (what technique?) sucks, I'm still trying to get a handle on my dynamics, and so on. But a lot of the times, my fingers just know where to go... and maybe more importantly for funk and the groove in general, when to go there. That first funk experience "just happened" ... it sort of evolved as we were working on the song. So somewhere down inside me I knew what that bassline was supposed to be doing, and it came to the surface.

    Even though I can't dance. :)

    So yeah, you're right on the mark I think, and even if you aren't a natural, I think this kind of stuff can still come to the surface if you've had enough exposure to it over the years.

  11. Best.

    It's the christian rock hard episode from season 7:)

    I got a little funky thing the other day. It was just an arpeggio. But hey, I liked it. I'll keep building on that one.
  12. Yeah I have the dvd to that eps. it was awsome, Cartman says Token Go get the bass out of your basment, then token says I dont have a bass int he basement, then cartman says you do to now go get it., Few minuts passes by and token comes back with his bass lol and says dammit cartman how did you know. ( I wont say the rest its degrading what cartman says )
  13. who are you refering too?
  14. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    I think he's refering to my initial post.
  15. Maverick Blues

    Maverick Blues Being a Thumper is all about ATTITUDE!

    Apr 28, 2005
    Richmond, VA
    zac2944. I'd commented that when I'd been playing a half year I fell into a nice funky groove. He posted observations about picking stuff up just from your environment, using Token as an example, and said:

    Thus my reply about not being able to dance (but still managing to get da funk from time to time).

    It's better to not assume I'll make sense all of the time. ;)

  16. Ok thanks guys, btw James browns is the shiznit, Anways I think I might of cought one of these funky grooves while at my lesson, Because my teacher was saying sweet all through out the lesson, and then at the end of the lesson he said that was one of my best lesson I had to date, so you guys think I might have had a small groove going?
  17. Maverick Blues

    Maverick Blues Being a Thumper is all about ATTITUDE!

    Apr 28, 2005
    Richmond, VA
    Alright! :D We don't have a "thumbs-up" icon here so I guess I'll have to use :hyper: . Funk on! :bassist: ("Rock on" sounds better but it just don't fit. ;) )

  18. Funk is about playing the "one".
    It is also imperative that you have a good drummer. A lot of funk drumming doesn't sound difficult, but there is a certain feeling that is required.
    Funk is awesome. Its like music that was MADE for bass.
  19. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    Man that funk stuff is hard..on the surface note wise most of it is pretty basic but the "groove" behind the notes is what makes it happen and contrary to popular belief it aint always on "the one"..most times its a hair BEFORE or after the one which funks that bassline up...(as a previous poster said..spot on dude).

    I absolutely love the late great Bernard Edwards playing (yeah its classed as disco but that guy was one of the funkiest bass players I've ever heard) and he had this great "punch" to the simplest basslines..(eg my forbidden lover etc.)..I always thought it was due to the stingray(s) he used on most Chic recordings until I got my hands on a similar vintage 'ray and played those basslines in a band situation...right notes/right timing..still didnt sound right :(

    Years later doing a recording session I was cutting a track where the bass dum and bass pretty much followed each other for the whole song ..nothing particularly technical, however myself and the drummer played the line live in the studio and at one point I came in a FRACTION ahead of the beat (we're talking milli..milli seconds here) I barely even noticed it myself till I heard the playback....BAM!! there was that famous Bernard Edwards punch.

    (of course the engineer and the producer liked it so musch I had to go back and re-record the whole shaggin track..it's amazing how hard it is to play a very simple bassline just slightly ahead of the beat for the whole track...well worth it though :)