Musicians Guide to Funk Music
Funk is an offshoot of R&B music that emphasized the finer points of Jazz and Soul. One of the greatest influences of funk was the new emphasis on the bass guitar, an instrument hardly used in rock bands of that era, but now a requirement. Especially common in funk songs was the use of the slap bass technique, a style that is generally credited to Larry Graham of Sly and the Family Stone.
Other pioneers of this style include the legendary James Brown, whose loud vocals and emphasis as heard in songs such as “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” paved the way for even more hit songs in the late 1960s. Brown also gave the attention to more African American artists, including Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone.
The 1970s led to George Clinton innovating a new style of called “P-funk”, a name derived from his two bands, Parliament and Funkadelic. Groups like Earth, Wind, and Fire began to use more complex sounds to their brand of funk, and jazz musicians began to mix their jazz sound with funk as well.
In the eighties, many artists began incorporating synthesized rhythms. It was also at this time that Rick James scored one of funk’s greatest hits with “Super-Freak”. It has been said that Prince has been said to have contributed much to the genre by using more blatant sexual imagery, as well as his amazing stage shows, like the one seen in the feature film Sign of the Times.
Today, funk has changed into a combination called funk rock, whose examples include The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against the Machine. Funk music is also popularly used as sampling. One such example includes MC Hammer, who stole the riffs from “Super Freak” to create one of the most chartbusting hits “U Can’t Touch This”.