Chicago Earth, Wind, and Fire Reflection

Funk, created in the mid 1960s, is defined as a mixture of soul, jazz, and R&B. It is characterized by the bringing forth the strong rhythmic groove of an electric bass combined with drumming, and consists of rhythm instruments being played together. It is based on a two-celled onbeat/offbeat structure, which originated in sub-Saharan African music traditions. New Orleans took the split structure from the Afro-Cuban mambo and conga in the late 1940s, and made it its own. New Orleans funk gained international acclamation mainly because James Brown’s rhythm section successfully made use of it. This genre elicits dancing or “grooving” amongst crowds of all ages. James Brown, although not a funk artist, contributed heavily to this genre with the creation of his signature dance that emphasized the down beat and the first beat which he titled “The One” and his musical innovations which included bass line syncopation, guitar rifts, and drum patterns.

After watching the Chicago Earth, Wind, and Fire concert I can hear elements of funk clearly in their performance. The rhythm and blues style horn arrangements are very present and used often. The vocal style is similar to that of soul music, which is another element of funk music. The heavy drumbeats that are heard throughout the performance are associated with the hard bop style. Lastly, funk’s polyrhythmic foundation is consistent throughout the entire performance. Along with all of these elements being present, I found myself bopping my head and dancing to the music, which is also very common when listening to funk music.

Some funk artists include Chaka Khan, Labelle, Lyn Collins, Brides of Funkenstein, Klymaxx, Mother’s Finest, and Betty Davis. Funk music paved the way for countless other genres of which include: boogie, electro music, funk metal, G-funk, and Timba. Having grown up hearing music for the first time in my grandparents’ house, I was exposed to all genres but specifically funk, jazz, gospel, and the blues. I really enjoy funk music because it makes you feel like dancing.

Below is the link to the concert:




by Jiana Barnes

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