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How to Play Funk Guitar

How to Play Funk Guitar

The 1960s noticed the rise of many legendary guitarists bringing us revolutionary new types and methods that we nonetheless use and construct upon to this present day. Arguably, one of many much less heralded is Jimmy Nolen whose recordings with James Brown gave beginning to the funky 16th-note, scratchy staccato-style taking part in that has turn out to be such an iconic constructing block of common music to this present day. To cowl all the good gamers who’ve added their very own distinctive taste, from Freddie Stone to Nile Rodgers up to Cory Wong, would fill an entire ebook. However to consider funk guitar taking part in as purely a gimmick could be an enormous mistake as these methods might be seen throughout so many types of music. Finally, if you would like to be employed as a guitar participant, chances are high you will have to funk it up in some unspecified time in the future. Listed here are the constructing blocks to begin grooving with the very best of them.

What’s Funk Guitar?

Ask that query and also you’ll most likely get numerous completely different solutions, however all may have some key themes in frequent: syncopation, staccato, percussive assault, rhythmic variations, 16th-notes, pocket, timing, and groove, amongst others. However what does all that imply?! As a beginner it could all appear a bit daunting but when we take it step-by-step we are able to begin to perceive.

Let’s begin with the basics and construct up from there. This strategy is particularly vital when taking part in funk, as a result of should you don’t nail these fundamentals then the entire thing will collapse as you strategy extra complicated elements. Self-discipline is essential. (You’ll need a metronome or primary drum machine app to observe with. That’s non-negotiable.)

The Principle of Rhythm

Our first step is to begin with the other ways you may divide up a measure of music into beats and subdivisions. For now, we’re solely taking a look at 4/Four time signatures and ignoring triplets. Ex. 1 exhibits how we are able to divide up a measure of 4 beats into completely different notice durations. I’m utilizing the highest half of an A minor chord on this instance, and you may see how with every measure the rhythms turn out to be twice as quick.

Taking part in funk requires precision timing so it will be important to know the place you might be in a measure as you go alongside. Counting by way of a measure may sound easy however it’s essential to all rhythm taking part in, not simply funk. You’ll be able to often spot the gamers who haven’t practiced this (the drummer might be shouting at them). Ex. 2 exhibits how we might often depend notes whereas taking part in. Quarter-notes are as simple as 1, 2, 3, 4. For eighth-notes we add an “and” (+) between every beat. And for the all-important 16th-notes we add an “e” and “a.”

Over time, with numerous observe, counting turns into second nature and you may really feel it while you play. You don’t even want a guitar in your arms. Subsequent time you might be listening to music merely depend alongside.

In case you really feel that is beginning to sound extra like a newbie’s drum lesson, you then’d be proper. On taking over the problem of studying funk guitar, you’ve got unwittingly signed up to be a member of the percussion household. Extra on that later, however let’s rapidly have a look at Ex. 3 which exhibits how to strum or decide with our proper hand. In case you haven’t seen the symbols above the tab earlier than, they signify downstrokes, which seem like a bracket, and upstrokes, which seem like a V. Begin getting used to that down/up strumming whereas counting alongside.

Welcome to Drum Faculty!

Welcome to day one as a percussionist and congratulations on agreeing to tackle some percussive duties as well as to taking part in the guitar. We could joke, however that is in some ways the essence of funk guitar taking part in and what makes it completely different and so cool. It’s what Jimmy Nolen and his “rooster scratch” fashion introduced to the studio all these years in the past when recording “Papa’s Acquired a Model New Bag.” As well as to taking part in the harmonic content material we’re going to use the guitar as a percussive instrument.

The commonest means we create some a percussive sound is by muting the strings with our fretting hand, whereas strumming to give a scratch like sound as demonstrated in Ex. 4.

To get this sound you launch stress on the fretboard and have your fingers resting frivolously on the strings. You need the stress to be mild sufficient that you could’t hear a fretted notice ringing out, however exhausting sufficient so the open string isn’t sounding. It takes a little bit of observe and naturally try to be doing this together with a metronome or different fastened beat. When taking part in this at pace, an open string on one 16th-note shouldn’t be going to break the entire thing. The secret is that you’re in time and producing your individual percussive sound.

We now have discovered to depend and play (in time) a measure of 16th-note chords and a measure of scratches. Now we’re going to mix the 2 and begin creating syncopated rhythms. In case you’re undecided what syncopation means, then an excellent definition could be “music or a rhythm characterised by displaced beats or accents in order that the robust beats are weak and vice versa.” By mixing up chordal stabs and muted scratches we are able to transfer the accents round inside a beat and bar to create some funky rhythms. Shifting from one to one other shouldn’t be simple at first, so begin slowly and construct it up with loads of observe.

In Ex. 5 we’re taking part in the chord on the primary sixteenth-note of every beat adopted by three scratches. Your proper hand needs to be in a continuing down/up strumming sample. The one factor altering is the stress you’re making use of together with your left hand and that’s the place the observe is required. It may be exhausting to ensure that the stress is utilized in order that the chord sounds in the appropriate place. You ought to be aiming to make the chord stabs staccato as potential.

For Ex. 6 we’re going to transfer the chord to the “and” of every beat. That immediately sounds a bit completely different. In Ex. 5 we had been primarily simply taking part in on every beat with some scratches in between, however now we’re shifting the accent off the beat. It could really feel unusual at first, however hold at it.

Now we’re going to go actually off the beat in Ex. 7. We’re hitting the chord on the “e” of every beat for the primary two measures, then the “a” for the second two measures. Take it slowly and hold counting.

Within the earlier examples we performed the identical rhythm for the entire measure. How about we attempt a unique one on every beat? There are lots of choices for this. Ex. 8 exhibits a pair, however have a go at understanding different choices and working towards these too.

Now let’s begin including two chord stabs per beat. Ex. 9 provides us a few examples and you may actually hear the funk constructing as we begin shifting these chord accents round. Over time we wish all these variations ingrained in our head prepared to implement at any time when wanted. The extra you play and study new riffs and licks, you’ll begin to acknowledge these rhythmic patterns.

The ultimate mixtures are the place we play three-chord stabs and only one scratch per beat. Ex. 10 exhibits us all of the choices.

When you’re snug with all these variations attempt mixing them up and seeing which sound the very best to your ear. There isn’t a proper or unsuitable, and most gamers have a tendency to lean towards a number of favourite mixtures to obtain their very own sound. Ex. 11 is an instance of how issues can sound while you combine and match, and the way, when mixed with some drums and instrumentation, issues can begin getting actually funky, all simply on one chord!

All of the examples above will enable you to study all the varied 16th-note chord/scratch mixtures. It will take a while. We now have lined a whole lot of floor right here so don’t count on to grasp all of this in per week. Attempt constructing these ideas and workouts into your present observe routine and over time your expertise will develop. However, should you don’t nail what we’ve gone by way of on this lesson, it simply received’t sound correct. So, seize that metronome and get the funk began.

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