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...that funky feeling

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by carl-anton, Feb 1, 2002.

  1. I just listened to some old Jamiroquai tracks yesterday, and it just hit me how funky Stuart Zender actually is (to me anyway). How do you practice if you want to play funky? Do you try to be a little ahead of the beat, or have a slight swing feeling to it all, or... ? Hope you know what I mean!

  2. Mikkel-S


    Jun 27, 2001
    Herning, Denmark
    Cool endnu en Dansker!!!:D
  3. Cool, en århusianer! :cool:
  4. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    The secret of the Funk is deep baby. It can't necessarily be taught either. The BEST thing you can do to learn how to play funky, is listen to a lot of funk. Listen to what the bassist does with the drummer, as the big 'ol fat groove pocket is acheived when, and only when, the drummer and the bass player have the funk figured out. A good funk tune will have a life/pulse of it's own, it's not just about playing all the right notes (which is also important, that's the part that can be taught to you. :) ). If you really want to get hip to it buy the following CDs, listen to them constantly, try playing along to them.

    Funk 101: Press Play Sucka

    Soul Vaccination - Tower of Power (live)
    James Brown's Greatest Hits (or better yet, get Star Time: James Brown boxed set)
    The Best of Sly Stone
    Song Review - A Greatest Hits Collection - Stevie Wonder
    The Best of Kool & the Gang: 1969 - 1976

    extra credit: The Funk Box - purple velvet boxed set that is 4 cd's and is basically a history of funk. Go to amazon.com and search "the funk box", it will be the first hit

    Funk 102: Shake Dat Ass

    Earth, Wind & Fire's Greatest Hits
    The History of Funk vol. 2 - compilation cd, every record store I've ever been to has this series (there are 6 volumes, 1/2 - 5, 2 is the best in my opinion, followed closely by vol. 3)
    Back in the Day - Bootsy Collins
    The Best of Graham Central Station
    Any Parliment Funkadelic "best of" cd, as there are about 3 of them "Tear the Roof Off" is a good one
    The Ultimate Isley Brothers

    Funk 103: Yeah, That's Real Nice

    Blood Sugar Sex Magic - Red Hot Chili Peppers
    Mother's Milk - Red Hot Chili Peppers
    Traveling Without Moving - Jamiroquai
    Righteous - Dag
    Truth & Soul - Fishbone

    Listening to copious amounts of Tower of Power is always a good thing to do, Rocco and David Garibaldi are just retarded-good players and much groove can be learned from them. Probably the best TOP albums to get (aside from the live one mentioned above) are "Tower of Power", "Urban Renewal", and "Back to Oakland".. oh yeah, and "Live and in Living Color".

    Go now, and feel the funk y'all.
  5. Bassmouse3


    Nov 12, 2001
    Valby, Denmark
    Hurra, nu er vi 3!
  6. Thanks Beermonkey! I've ordered a good deal of those records on my local libary, so I expect to get the funk soon! :cool:

    ...Hej Bassmouse3! :)
  7. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Here's something to try:
    a)Hope it's not beneath you
    b)Hope I don't make the concept "too difficult" to grasp

    Anyway, imagine a simple ONE-bar figure consisting of FOUR 1/4 notes(1-2-3-4). Suppose those notes are G-B-C-D. So, in 1/16th note 'notation'/feel, the above figure looks like this(in cyberworld)-

    G is played on "1"
    B is played on "2"
    C is played on "3"
    D is played on "4"

    Pretty darn basic line, right?

    Now, if you notice, all those other 'little' subdivisions of the beats are 'empty'.
    Try 'displacing' some of the beats/notes-
    ...instead of playing ON BEAT 2, move it(displacing)to the "e of 2". In fact, try it on BEATS 3 & 4 as well.
    That becomes-
    G is played on "1"
    B is played on "e of 2"
    C is played on "e of 3"
    D is played on "e of 4".

    Hopefully, you can see there's many possiblities...even within this simple ONE-bar example.
    -You can double some notes(like playing TWO 1/8th notes on Beat 1.../G-G-....etc)
    -You can add octaves here & there(maybe on Beats 2 & 3?)
    -You can add some chromatics("C#" between the "C" & "D")
    Also, how the notes are attacked(dynamics)...how long(legato) or short(staccato) the notes are played. Mixing up the long/short works nicely.

    Hopefully, the above simple-ness can give you some 'food for thought'.
  8. I had a drummer try to explain to me once that you picture a beat as having a certain length (as opposed to being instantaneous)

    say for example, one beat is this big:

    you can play on the center of the beat:

    or you can move it around:

    and in all those instances, you're still playing on the same beat.

    When I listen to anything with a funky rhythm it sounds more to me like they're making the beats more stretched out or bigger as opposed to subdividing them into more complex intervals. I understand what JimK was talking about also, and whenever I've played a funk song in jazz band, the written bassline is just like what he is talking about (some kind of syncopated line with a lot of 16th notes and rests). I guess it's just a difference of interpretation maybe? Like to someone arranging a funk chart for a jazz band to play, they have to deal in discrete intervals of time. But if you're playing by ear and just improvising a groove, it seems more natural to think of time as a continuous thing than something divided up into so many small intervals (picture the difference between a sine wave and a square wave as sort of an example or analogy). At least that's how I think of it sometimes, but I'm kind of having trouble describing it. Does this at least make some sense?
  9. Bill Brasky -- You're in Columbia? Do you just live in the city or are you attending MU? I'm currently attending classes at MU, living in the northern part of the city. I think you're the only person I've seen from Columbia on here.

    I would suggest if you've got some money checking out the video "Fingerstyle Funk" by Rocco Prestia. I've got it and while I haven't done much with it yet, it seems quite good.
  10. Yeah I'm a junior at MU, but I'm from St. Charles, MO so I live here about 2/3 of the year. BTW, my name is Jonathan. I didn't know when i registered for the board here that a lot of people use their real names (and probably a lot haven't seen the SNL sketch with Bill Brasky). If you wanna chat on aol, my name there is Funkensteinnn (I think I was listening to Infectious Grooves the day I started using instant messenger).
  11. playing on the center of the beat stinks.
    sorry :p
  12. lol.... that was not intentional. I put spaces in there first, but when I previewed the post, the spaces disappeared, so I had to put the underscores in.

    So did that explanation make sense to anyone? Or is there someone who knows what I'm talking about that could explain it a little better or more in depth? Because I don't really know much on the subject, I just kind of go by what I've listened to and play it by ear or by feel or whatever you want to call it. When it comes to funk, that's how I think of it.
  13. red-hot-bassist


    Sep 18, 2001
    from denmark to collumbia, the funk must spread veerywhere, hopefully it will come to me soon and stop making me look like a stupid white girl playing the bass and biting through her toungue incnciosly so her mummy laughes, and says, why dont you learn to play that thing properly, all you d is little plinky notes, cant you play any haiwain stuff, what abou that martine mccutcheon song
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Nope! I think JimK is right and that Funk is all about subdividing the bar into 16th notes and you can talk in vague terms all you like about playing it by ear and feeling it, but if you want to desccribe it objectively, then the only way is either like Jim does or preferably in standard notation, so you can see the pitches and the rhythmic information together.

    This is one type of music where Tabs are absolutely useless, as it is all about placement of notes within the bar and if you don't get it right then it just "aint tight" !
  15. So are you saying you should never play off the center of the beat? Or if you do then you're either rushing or dragging? I mean maybe what I'm thinking of is more applicable to drumming than bass or horns or melodic instruments. But no matter how you divide it up, time is still a continuous thing, not discrete, so how ever many intervals you want to divide the beat up into, you can still play a little ahead or behind or in between. I understand what JimK is talking about too, and it definitely makes sense when it comes to writing music out, I just think there are different approaches to achieving the same goal, or different ways of perceiving this style of playing.

    Just wanted to add an example: when I listen to Tower of Power, that sounds exactly like JimK is describing it, but when I listen to the Meters it doesn't sound like the same style of funk, like with syncopated 16th note stuff. Maybe I'll find a couple of songs in particular to illustrate the difference.
  16. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    FWIW, I get what you're saying...
    1)One can play on 'top of the beat'
    2)One can play 'ahead of the beat'(WITHOUT RUSHING)
    3)One can play 'behind the beat'(WITHOUT DRAGGING)

    I agree with that...some here will disagree. That's what makes the world go round.

    Regarding The Meters; I understand what you're getting at. IMO, you can still do what you're talking about(where the beat is hit) & do the subdivide thing. Really, whatever works!
    One Meters' rhythm I like is found on the verse to "Africa"; I think it goes something like this-
    /1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a/1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a/ etc

    Porter MAY even be playing' slightly ahead on the "a of 2" & the "4"...maybe. ;)
  17. :cool: OK, thanks a lot guys. There's surely much to catch up on for me.

    But lets say, I have figured a funky riff out, by dividing into 16'th notes etc. That's one thing. Another is how to PLAY it. Our new drummer keeps telling me that I'm dragging, but whenever I try rush a little bit, I feel his dragging... I know its a question of practicing, but I like to know how you guys are practicing stuff like that. My problem is that I feel it's unnatural to rush the beat (is this what you call it anyway - rushing? In Denmark we call it 'playing ahead of the beat'). I fear that it's years of dragging that makes me feel that way, but I would really like to get out of it.

    Hope you get it :rolleyes:
  18. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I think I would ask your drummer to play a pretty straight-forward KICK drum pattern

    while YOU attempt to lock(play the same figure).
    The drummer may do what he wants upon the snare & hi-hat...just make sure BOTH of you play it STRAIGHT(no 'swing' or tripletted feel).

    Then, maybe, move onto something a little more 'in the cracks'...

    Again, attempt to lock it in...
    Eventually, see if you can play 'off' what the kick is doing; that is, YOU play a note while the kick drum rests, the kick plays a note while YOU rests, etc.

    Another thing to try-
    Ask the drummer to play one of his patented, busy, doubletimed Afro-Cuban grooves with QUARTER NOTES on the ride cymbal.
    Your task is to find a place & play a 1/2 timed Latin-ish figure against him.

    Hope that gives you some ideas...have fun.
    Gotta go!
  19. Hey flere danskere det er da for fedt.
    Ham der der foreslog at du skulle låne de cd'er har hjulpet dig rigtig meget for det er så funky det kan blive. En anden ting er at du skal simpelthen bare lig' der sammen med trommeslageren og få gang i et groove. Husk det er nogle gange det mest enkleste der lyder bedst og så kan du jo fylde på med nogle ting ind imellem groovet.
    Til slut vil jeg bare lige sige at det er fedt at du hører Jamiroquai selvom det nye er noget tamt.