Origin & Characteristics

Funk is a genre that has “Black” written all over and through it. Funk made its debut during the 1960s. Originally viewed as a form of dance music, funk was inspired by the rhythms of blues and jazz music. Funk is  groovy, upbeat, and has a highly syncopated sound.   Funk utilizes the rhythm of “one”, which is a musical emphasis on the first beat. The creation of “one” was dubbed and made popular by James Brown. Funk has elements from blues- styled horn arrangements, rock and jazz solos, guitar timbres, and soul vocal styles. Funk music has been dubbed “soul groups”, “dance bands”, “black rock” and “jazz funk” . Funk music is about partying, romance, friends and even politics .  Funk music allowed artists to express a lot all while telling a story. Many funk artists came from working class, low- income communities.

Social Implications, Commodification, & Influence on Future Genres

Funk was the soundtrack for the Black Power Movement.Funk was  all about black unity and black pride and funk aligned well with the message. When funk became more mainstream, White artist began to test their hand at funk, it really took off globally. Funk began taking more global strides and the commodification of the genre grew.Funk’s influence helped foster the creation and growth of Hip Hop music as well as disco music.  Both genres incorporate key components created by Funk musicians.Funk music remained exclusive to the African American community until the 1990s due to limited radio time but became more mainstream again when it began to be played on classical R&B and soul radio stations through revival tours and broadcasts.

Key Performers

James Brown

Earth, Wind, & Fire

Rick James

George Clinton

Conclusory Opinion

Funk is one of my favorite genres. I grew up listening to Earth, Wind, and Fire so to actually know the history of the genre helps connect more to the music.