Funk Rhythm Playing

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by telecasterjazz, Dec 27, 2015.

  1. scottro202

    scottro202 TDPRI Member

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    When I try to make my rhythm "funky" I will focus much of my attention on the drummer and locking in with him/her and complimenting what they're doing and getting "in pocket" with them. If you and the drummer are grooving, the bassist will pick up on it and will send whoever's soloing into the stratosphere (assuming they'll go there!)

    I also use lots of muted strings, and wah-wah can be fun to throw in too. Just make sure to not make it sound like "Voodoo Child" or the soundtrack from an adult film (unless that's the vibe you're going for ;) )
     
  2. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Yeah, this is definitely a tune for wah or an envelope filter, amirite?
     
  3. telecasterjazz

    telecasterjazz TDPRI Member

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    When you say muted notes, would something like the riffs from "Peg" by Steely Dan work? The notes in the riffs have a very rhythmic feel, and I don't know why, but I feel that they'd work in funk playing.
     
  4. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    Are you talking about the guitar with the phase shift thing happening?
     
  5. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yeah baby!
    ;)
     
  6. telecasterjazz

    telecasterjazz TDPRI Member

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    No, I don't think so. If you listen closely during the verse you can hear muted notes being played, and they make the track sound really cool. The phase shifts are pretty cool too, but I don't know how well those would fit in with funk unless it was a spacious break of some sort
     
  7. jwp333

    jwp333 Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    When I think and play my amateur funk rhythm, I'm either thinking about sliding my chords up a half or whole step up to the root, or I'm playing something to give it the feel that the chord is resolving down from a seventh or whatever it is I'm playing down to the major or minor chord. I guess I'm trying to make it feel like it's moving even though it is basically repetitive. Again, I'm an amateur and I may not be doing a great job of describing this.
     
  8. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    I know exactly what you mean. I would say that weak chord is an upper or lower neighbor to the target chord. This would give a dissonant resolution feel rather than a harmonic resolution feel.

    I hope that this generates a little misunderstanding and controversy. I don't think many people here would take this at face value, without question.
     
  9. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    Right Larry. I think the whole purpose of the funk repetition
    would be not to resolve, but to keep it moving forward for
    the duration of the song.
     
  10. BopT

    BopT Tele-Afflicted

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    Man I just try to make it funky.
     
  11. Ian T

    Ian T Tele-Holic

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    Yep this is the essence of funk guitar!

    Funk is a loop based thing. When people are noodling in their comping or playing in general, it's not funky.

    When people play a loop, this allows their bandmates to hear it, then come up with their own loop that compliments it.

    The loop can be a 1 bar loop, 2 bars, 4 8 or 16. But it has to loop!

    You have to fit in with what the others are playing! You have to compliment their loops!

    When a band can listen to each other and phrase together like this, it's a glorious thing!

    Yet the funk is a fickle thing. All it takes is just one dude noodling and the groove disappears. Yep, you can have 3 of the 4 laying down phat pocket and just one single dude wanking and the whole thing goes to crap. Bass players who play wanky Wooten fills, keyboard players who noodle-comp like it's jazz, drummers overplaying...and its gone! And this is so normal....and why so few bands really know how to groove!

    There are other things that are necessary as well...playing with swagger...the spirit of dance....playing with rock solid time....But these are secondary to the above....you must play a loop! And it must fit compliment what your brothers are playing!

    You can study the JB's, and the Meters, Dyke and the Blazers, and learn everything you need to know about funk guitar. And yet still suck playing with others!

    When it comes down to it, you learn funk by playing with other funky musicians who understand how to loop, listen and compliment!

    And if you can't find musicians tasty and mature enough to play like that, the next best thing is to try making some 2 bar grooves on a DAW, looper, or MPC. You will quickly learn that busy "chaka chaka" parts are usually not as funky as super simple parts that fit.

    Listen, it's all 1, 2 or 4 bar loops; NOBODY is NOODLING! There are no wanky fills anywhere! The parts on their own would not sound very funky at all....but it's the way the musicians each looped, listened and complimented each other that makes it happen...

    Good luck!

     
  12. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Preach it, brother. Every letter of every word is 100% true and important.

    Depending on the style, the metrical phrasing structure of many tunes (not 12-bar blues) is a nested pattern like:

    16
    8 8
    4 4 4 4
    22 22 22 22

    I used to like sitting in with people I didn't usually play with, and "talk to" the drums and bass in the language of phrasing. Honestly, it was only the old hands that would work together like this, as guys without as much experience playing in bands, often seemed oblivious, the worst offenders being guitar players, first and foremost, and keyboardists not as much (I am just shooting from the hip on this, as my mental images of these people are pretty unflattering and cliched).

    In my favorite funk rhythm section of all time, which I mentioned in an earlier post, our palaces of funk always (I think) used the kind of nested phrase structure shown above. It didn't need to be thought out, as long as everyone shared some musical experiences and knew certain kinds of music. Most of that was felt in 2-bar, 4-bar, etc. phrases, so we just played by feel, guided by deep, unarticulated musical memories. I am getting a little rhapsodic bordering on verklempt about that band again. Sorry, I'll be all right in a minute. Anyone got a tissue?
     
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  13. jwp333

    jwp333 Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Thanks to Ian t and Larry , excellent posts
     
  14. stringslinger

    stringslinger Tele-Holic

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    Check out Organ Freeman (be sure Google doesn't change it for you). Fun group a friend hipped me to the other day. A lot of tight funk rhythm playing.
     
  15. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

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    You can cut your teeth on groovy and harmonically static funk jam tunes like Chameleon or Cissy Strut - Jimmy Nolan was the 'King" of this type of playing but as Tim said earlier , his meaty 9th chords arent always whats required.
    From the 70's onwards I've always listened carefully to the rhythms and chord/note choices of great session players like Eric Gale, Dean Parks, Buzzy Feiten,Wayne Krantz or Paul Jackson jnr (and others) who often have to share the rhythm with another player and orchestrate riffs , fills and deal with changes too- especially if its Steely dan or something like that.
    You can tell these guys are smart with the harmonic stuff but there is at the fundamental level an understanding of what the bass and drums are doing - the roles are often percussive which means the body has to be integrated into all of those harmonic decisions.

    My favourite guitar player in this groove - mainly because of one record, is Leo Nocentelli and his playing on "Rejuvenation" - which has some of the funkiest riffing - sparse and percussive at times but also able to add gorgeous jazzy chords and psychadelic solos all in there....he's heavy.
    But I guess Im trying to say that what he plays on this record is so beautifully conceived around what the bass and drums are doing - not to mention the keys - thats the key to it I think. There's a compositional or arranging angle to it that these great players can bring and execute when its needed.
     
  16. LohnnyL

    LohnnyL Tele-Meister

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    It's usually a lot easier to make things groovy (and catchy, BTW) if you keep it simple. There are a few ways to make it more complicated once you know how to lay a basic groove.

    Also - I'd dig in into Avi Bortnick's stuff:
    http://avibortnick.net/articles/
    Try the: Guitar Player 2001 funk lesson, Guitar Player Rhythm Method Funk Lesson. That's ho I was introduced to Funk guitar... I still go back to this one.
     
  17. songtalk

    songtalk Friend of Leo's

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    We have a winner.

    Don't stop the groove.
     
  18. TheletterJ

    TheletterJ Tele-Afflicted

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    Great thread with many great suggestions!

    Funk is my favorite music to play by a mile. Nile Rogers has a cool video out there where he walks through his technique. IMO it's all about the right hand. Keep that pick moving against the strings in 16th note patterns at all times and keep a light touch with your fretting hand. Feel the chords but only actually fret one or two notes, the rest of the strings should be muted with your fretting hand.

    Big, full jazz chords are going to be hard to voice while keeping the rhythm do focus on single notes, diads and octave intervals. Sliding octaves up and down a scale in rhythm with "ckicka chickas" in between is a great way to add color without stepping on the others.

    Ian T's post about the loop - that's real, man! Once you find "your loop" keep it going so the others can lock in with their own. If you get bored of what you're doing you can change it up, but whatever you do - if you change something you've got to stick with it until it becomes your new loop and the others lock in. Once you jam with the same dudes for long enough you'll start to anticipate those types of changes and you'll be able to evolve the jam without losing the feel. That takes lots of practice.
     
  19. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Friend of Leo's

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    This is just silly.

    You can add thought in voicing/resolutions, bla bla bla.

    Herbie can do that, but he could lay down some hip **** with a pair of wood blocks.

    Funk is like thinking about what a partner is thinking about when the other one is working all their good spots, hitting that middle, keeping a pace that keeps building and stays right near the climax....but...almost...almost....and keep it there...the whole time.

    You can play any chord you want, but if you hit it like a virgin...good luck. If I find it, I'll post a video that will teach you everything you need to know about funk.
     
  20. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Check out Maceo Parker. As a guitar player if you think more like a drummer or bass player, and less like a keyboard player, you are on the right track. Listen to how Maceo Parker's sax hooks just smack the audience upside the head while still sitting deep in the pocket: if you can do that with your guitar, you've arrived. For example, check out Uptown Up and Shake Everything You Got.
     
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