I Got Rhythm Guitar 6 - Funk Basics I

by Joe Kataldo

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  • Funk is an American musical style that originated in the mid- to late-1960s when African American musicians blended soul music, soul jazz and R&B into a rhythmic, danceable new form of music. Funk de-emphasizes melody and harmony, and brings a strong rhythmic groove of electric bass and drums to the foreground. Unlike R&B and soul songs, which had many chord changes, funk songs are often based on an extended vamp on a single chord.

    Like much of African inspired music, funk typically consists of a complex groove with rhythm instruments such as electric guitar, electric bass, Hammond organ, and drums playing interlocking rhythms. Funk bands also usually have a horn section of several saxophones, trumpets, and in some cases, a trombone, which plays rhythmic "hits".

    This Lesson Will Improve

    Left Hand Muting

    R.H./L.H. Coordination


    Funk Basic I

    We will start scratching (ghost note) all sixteenth-note (four per beat) with a constant down/up strumming, muting the strings laying lightly an E9 chord (the James Brown Chord) shape, and adding pressure to play different accents:

    1. on the first sixteenth-note, with a down-stroke, followed by three scratches;
    2. on the third sixteenth-note, with a down-stroke, preceded by two and followed by one scratch;
    3. on the second sixteenth-note, with an up-stroke, preceded by one and followed by two scratches;
    4. on the last sixteenth-note, with an up-stroke, preceded by three scratches;


    These exercise are the building blocks of funk guitar, and need to be practiced daily!

    Recommended Listening

    Well funk is "Attitude", listen will surely improve your playing! There is no enough space to mention all the great band, surely you could start with James Brown, but I prefer to post a complete "Essential Discography" in mine "Ask an Instructor" sub-forum https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/guitar_forum/index.php?showtopic=11990

    Pro Tips

    Every time I discover one of my students be not in time he his not tapping his foot!
    Tap your foot while playing, will connect your internal timing with the music.

    Technique Focus

    Try to not drag your pick across the string, instead play chords like all the note were simultaneously played, like a piano player will do, with a short fast attack.

    Theory Focus

    A 9th Chord is a Dominant 7 chord plus a major 9, well you may say that there are only 7 note in our musical system, that right, in fact 9th, D in these case is the 2nd an octave higher:




    More variation will follow in the next lessons...see ya soon!

    Joe Kataldo
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