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Why do we play Funk?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by alexlocurto, Apr 12, 2014.

  1. Hello TalkBass! I come to you with a question- Why do we play such copious quantities of funk? I'm not saying that all bassists play funk, or even that all funk makes for good bass. All I'm saying is that there's a disproportionally large amount of funk that circulates the bass community. Watch a bass review on YouTube. Chances are, you're getting some rhythmic finger/slap funk thing. Why is that?

    (On a personal note, I have no problem with funk. I play it all the time, but I don't really listen to it. If I played guitar, for instance, I'd never play funk. Why is it that this one particular instrument drives me towards one particular style?)
  2. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Funk is one of the few genres that gives an emphasis to the bass. It makes sense that fans of the instrument would be fans of a genre that features that instrument. Guitarists tend to love rock and metal for similar reasons, right?
  3. At the end of the day (also at the beginning of the day) funk is about the groove. Bass drives the groove. Groove is life.
  4. Probably true, but who really buy an electric guitar for much else? I mean, of course, there are other styles out there with electric guitar, like country and jazz and whatnot, but I'd be willing to bet that most people who buy an Ibanez guitar, for instance, are going to play rock or metal, and that probably holds true for most other guitar makers, except for maybe Fender. I never really intended to play funk, but I do. It's odd.
  5. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Two reasons come to mind:

    First, bass plays an important role in creating the groove, in funk music. Contrast to metal, where it's mostly doubling a guitar part, or punk/alternative where it's mostly riding the root. In funk, the bass part has a high degree of autonomy.

    Second, while bass sometimes has a nice melodic role in pop music (I'm thinking of older pop, mostly--Jamerson, Kaye, and Osborne lines, for instance), it's rhythmic and aggressive in funk.

    Edit: Haji posted along the line of my first point, while I was typing...
  6. Lou Bottini

    Lou Bottini

    Feb 25, 2004
    Ow, we want the funk
    Give up the funk
    Ow, we need the funk
    We gotta have that funk
    Schlyder likes this.
  7. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    We play funk becuase it's funky!
  8. 'Cuz it's fun to play.
  9. Geri O

    Geri O

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    My favorite response...

    Why not?
  10. zeppfan90


    Mar 27, 2013
    It makes the chicks dance. Chicks love to dance. Chicks love the ones that can make them dance. I love chicks.
    tbasstreble11 likes this.
  11. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Interestingly, the only reason I would pick up guitar would be to play rhythm and the stuff I would gravitate towards would be funk-oriented. I love Nile Rodgers just as much as I love Bernard Edwards. :)
  12. ddhm


    Mar 18, 2011
    Memphis Tn USA
    Because LARRY GRAHAM!
  13. Dan Knowlton

    Dan Knowlton Sarcasm: Just ONE of the many services I offer! Gold Supporting Member

    'Cause its funky!

    No need to thank me! :p
  14. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    +1, I can play along to James Brown records all day and be happy. The rhythm guitar seems like a lost art to some guitar players.
  15. Mike Sorr

    Mike Sorr "Play I Some Music" Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2012
    Brick, NJ
    Reggae is a genre that emphasizes the bass, but you don't see Youtube videos of bassists showing off their reggae chops...because reggae isn't flashy music. I appreciate a player who has put the time in the woodshed and has achieved a great level of skill, but I appreciate it even more when those skills are used in a way that enhances actual music and not just ego. You can be flashy without screaming "Look at me". Listen to Jeff Berlin's work with Allan Holdsworth, or Jerry Peek's with Steve Morse. Great musicianship that even non musicians will listen to.

    An even better example is Rocco Prestia's work with Tower of Power. You won't find a funkier bass player and he doesn't ever slap or play overly flashy lines.
  16. Space Pickle

    Space Pickle

    Apr 15, 2013
    because i gots to move mah bootay

    tbasstreble11 likes this.
  17. I suppose that when Peyton Manning puts all of his film studies and hours of practicing mechanics and technique to use on the field to eat defenses alive....he is an ego driven show off..

    Practicing harder and learning and knowing more isn't showing off and frankly I've grown tired of this ethos...it is the result of a higher level of discipline and commitment to ones craft often times...Some of us want to know AS MUCH AS WE CAN about music, about techniques, about the feel behind different styles...not to show off...but because we derive enjoyment from being able to play just about ANYTHING in ANY situation.

    SLAP is a percussive technique. Some people suck at it and some players kill it. Some 'overplay' some don't.
    ^ Same can be said for Fingerstyle, playing with a pick, tapping, bowing, whatever...
  18. Do we play the funk, or are we just a vessel to bring the funk forth to the world?
  19. fmoore200


    Mar 22, 2011
    I think other posters have answered your question well, so I'll just add that I love funk/r&b guitar playing. I wish more guitarists played that restrained, subtle, rhythmic style.
  20. ahc


    Jul 31, 2009
    No. Virginia
    ^^^^ This is sadly true.