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Question about funk & funk(y) jazz

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by havik180, Apr 22, 2006.

  1. havik180


    Oct 9, 2005
    SF bay area
    When I started playing bass, last Sept. , I was mainly interested in playing rock and punk (real punk thank you).Now after getting more into the bass and thanks to TB I want to get into funk , jazz and jazz funk. Now I'm totally new to the whole scene and would like some help as far as what and how to practice !?! I practice everyday , am taking lessons (learning scales and "ear" training at the moment) and expanding my musical taste.

    Can anyone recommend some techniques to practice or what to focus on ? Anything else I should know ?


    some examples : Jamiroquai (stu zender) type stuff and a song that comes to mind is battlestar scarlatchtica by incubus
  2. Ostinato

    Ostinato Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Toronto ON
    I'm no funk wizard, but I'd say work on your technique first. Work on consistency of attack, finger stamina, cross-string playing (very important for creating exciting basslines, read:Jamerson) , rhythm. Some guys swear by a metronome, but even better is to delve into your CD collection and start copping all the bass lines, note for note, then after you do that you can play along making up your own stuff while listening carefully towhat the drums are doing.
    Listen to the whole kit, especially the kick, and take your tempo form the high hat or cymbal. Once you're able to zero in on that, your phrasing will start to feel more natural. I just gave you 20 years of my own experience in that paragraph. Hope you do your homework.
  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Previoulsy mentioned here at TB for practiing 16th note finger funk-
    Fretting hand(for now)mutes the strings.
    Plucking hand, with strict alternating between thre index & middle fingers, plucks...you pick the strng(s)-
    l1e&a 2e&a 3e&a 4e&al etc
    You should hear all ghost notes-
    lxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxl

    Now, add some notes-
    lCCxx xExE FxF#x xGGxl etc
    You pick the notes...you pick what/where to accent.

    Personally, I would start with the Old Skool stuff-
    Motown, Stax, James Brown, Sly, Headhunters, Tower Of Power, Ohio Players, AWB, Brothers Johnson, etc.
  4. I'm no technique/theory buff by any means (can't read a note of music and I still can't name the notes on the neck without counting frets), I'm a self-taught guy, but I sure am a funkateer so I do second this!

    I'm a huge Stuart Zender fan (man, do I miss him! :( ) but as a starting point you can't beat James Brown. I myself started out learning JB basslines, followed by all sorts of motown goodness, then went to Stuart's work.
    BTW, Stuart started out by learning 'Black Market' by Weather Report. (Oh my god, I can't believe I still don't own that record... I'll have to rectify that with a quickness!!)

    To me, funk is all about rhythm. Start out with that. If you can make a bassline with just one note sound good enough to make you shake your groovethang, just by funkin' up the timing, you got the basics down IMHO.
    And keep stretching that pocket: practise getting it real phat and ghetto by playing after the count, and getting it all juiced up and driving by playing before the count.
    And: practise shutting off your head. Don't think about it, just do it! Let it all hang out!! (I'm getting excited...)
    After all that you can expand melodically and get more into that jazz thing. And that's also where you should really milk your teacher for all the know-how he's got, 'cause that's the hardest part to expand beyond a certain point.

    Oh, and have fun doing it! :) But I trust you will.
  5. havik180


    Oct 9, 2005
    SF bay area
    Thanks guys for the input ! Are ghost notes like or the same as muted notes ? Also can anyone recommend some cool songs that are good for a beginner , I'd like some I can pick up by ear !

  6. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    You might check out Medeski Martin and Wood as a good place to start if you like that more modern thing. Most of their bass lines arent difficult, and usually repetitive, but they sure do groove.

    Funk is all about feel and time, not so much about notes. You can find some very funky, simplistic things to work on. A good starting song might be Chameleon by The Headhunters (Herbie Hancock), or Cissy Strut by The Meters.

    P.S. - if you need some mp3's of the funk, shoot me a PM ;-)
  7. Yeah, MMW... very nice! Chris Wood is pretty funky, even on acoustic. Give 'Uninvisible' from the album of the same name a try!
  8. markjazzbassist

    markjazzbassist Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    it's all about rhythm. average white band has a lot of good stuff that is somewhat simple to pull off by ear.
  9. Learn the basic line of The Chicken.

    You should be able to ear the 16th notes, with the back beat accents on beat 2 and 4. You can do that while walking to a tempo.

    When practising with a metronome, put it on beat 2 and 4. It can be pretty confusing at first. Also try to put it on every upbeat. My teacher made me play Jamerson stuff with the metronome (very slow) on the 2nd and 4th 16th notes of every beat.

    BTW JimK, what's up with Philly? :p
  10. markjazzbassist

    markjazzbassist Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    here are two stock licks that are always used

    the fifth and octave- like any style of music these are used a lot, with the octave being used the most. hit the root on one and hit the octave on the and of 2 or 3 (or anywhere for that matter)

    the walkup - walk 2 or 3 or 4 notes up to the root right before the downbeat. its a classic.

    when you add the rhythm element to these licks, the possibilities are endless. you can play the same lick 10 times and it will sound different if you switch up the rhythms.
  11. reitedasc


    Jun 23, 2005
    If you need some educational material, be sure yo check out a Rocco Prestia's video and a great book for slaping called "Slap it". Like the other guys say, don't stop jamming along to records and check out new players and styles.

    Songs: Jamiroquai has alot of great stuff. A little difficult maybe.. Check out some of the classic P-Funk (Parliament Funkadelic) grooves, Ohio Players as mentioned earlier... I'm listening to "Real People" by Common right now, it's hiphop but it sure has one of my favourite basslines.

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