Funk

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Funk is a type of music from the United States that was developed the 1960s by African American musicians and singers such as James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, George Clinton, and The Meters. Funk music emphasizes the rhythm of the music. Funk music mixes Rhythm and Blues music with soul music. Funk music is dance music.

Funk uses many rhythm instruments, such as electric guitar, bass guitar, drums, and electric organ. Funk bands also have a horn section, which includes several saxophone players, a trumpet player, and in some bands, a trombone player.

Role of the electric bass[change | edit source]

In funk music, the electric bass has a more important role than in other styles of popular music. Many funk songs are based on a strong bass line (melody) played by the electric bass player. Well-known funk bass players include Bootsy Collins, Louis Johnson and Larry Graham of Sly & the Family Stone. Larry Graham invented a new style of electric bass playing called "slap bass technique." With this technique, the bass player slaps and plucks the strings to create a strong rhythm.

History[change | edit source]

Late 1960s[change | edit source]

The United States singer and musician James Brown was one of the first funk musicians. James Brown recorded a song in 1967 called "Cold Sweat", which is considered the first funk song. Other musical groups copied the rhythms and musical style developed by James Brown and his band. A band called The Meters played funk music in New Orleans. The Meters had hit songs such as "Sophisticated Cissy" and "Cissy Strut" in 1969. Another funk group, The Isley Brothers, had a hit song in 1969 called "It's Your Thing".

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1980s[change | edit source]

In the 1980s, funk music changed. Funk musicians began using electronic instruments such as synthesizer keyboards and electronic drum machines instead of electric bass, electric organ, trumpets, saxophones, and drums. Rick James had hits in the 1980s with funk songs such as "Give It To Me Baby" and "Super Freak." The band Queen had funk songs such as "Another One Bites The Dust." The musician and singer Prince had hit songs.

Some major names of early 80s funk include: Cameo, Zapp, The Gap Band, The Bar-Kays, and The Dazz Band.

In the later 1980s, two new styles of funk developed called "funk rock" and funk metal. These styles of music mixed funk music with rock and metal music. Funk rock and funk metal bands include Red Hot Chili Peppers, Living Colour, Jane's Addiction, Prince, Primus, Fishbone, Faith No More and Rage Against the Machine.

Funk music influenced 1980s hip hop music. Many hip hop musicians use funk songs by James Brown or George Clinton to compose new hip hop songs.

1990s and 2000s[change | edit source]

In the 1990s and 2000s, funk rock bands included Outkast, and Van Hunt. As well, 1990s and 2000s hip hop musicians continue to use funk songs by James Brown or George Clinton to compose new hip hop songs.

Related pages[change | edit source]

Further reading[change | edit source]

  • Vincent, Rickey (1996). Funk: The Music, The People, and The Rhythm of The One. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-13499-1.
  • Thompson, Dave (2001). Funk. Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-87930-629-7.