Funk – The Fusion of Soul, Jazz, Rock and Blues

Funk music may not be as distinct an idiom as it once was, however funky music is still here. Today’s funk has become more of a mindset or aspect than genre, and examples of it can be found in all of the popular styles of music… rock, jazz, r&b,hip hop, house, techno etc.

These styles are dance music, and are in some manner the result of the rock and roll revolution of the fifties. They are, or were, in the beginning, pretty simple musically, based on 2/4 or 4/4 time signature.

From the advent of Little Richard’s band (Long Tall Sally), then later some of those members helping mold James Brown’s (Doin’ It To Death) brand of pure soul funk to Miles Davis’ (Honky Tonk), Herbie Hancock’s (Chameleon) and the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s (Eternity’s Breath) electric jazz/fusion funk to Frank Zappa’s (Cosmic Debris), Jimi Hendrix’s (Who Knows) and Sly Stone’s (Sex Machine) rock/blues/r&b funk, and George Clinton’s (One Nation Under A Groove) p-funk, the music became sophisticated.

Whether slow and sexy, or uptempo and hard driving funk is fun to hear, listen, sing or dance to! Funk/funky music has an attitude, a musical short hand, yet with complex harmonies conterminous with the modes of expression of black speech patterns, i.e. “put some stank on it”, “you feel me?”.

Traditional music says: “24 hrs, 7 days a week”, funk music not only says: “24/7”, but also how it is said is determined by the genre. It is musically interesting to all but novices.

The basis of funk/funky music is the groove, which is not only a particular musical riff played by a specific instrument, but also a feeling imparted to the music when various instruments play their part, which are then laced together in complex harmonies.

The syncopation of beat/meter(i.e. time signature) is the other driving component, this is what makes you want to move.

When sharing music with my friends, I often find myself saying “check out this part” or “listen to this groove”.

Funk as a stand alone genre all but disappeared after the 80’s. Even so, the legacy of funk is still extant in the music of today’s artists. Be it Skerik’s Syncopated Taint Septet (Fry His A**), Shane Theriot (Punch), Medeski, Martin and Wood (Uncle Chubb), Soil and Pimp Sessions (Funky Goldman), Lettuce (Squad “Live”), funk still provides the mortar holding a lot of today’s music together.

Fellow funkateers click here or on the “funk” link of the tag cloud on my site, and share your comments, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

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