Origin of the Genre
Funk music originated in the mid 1960’s when black musicians such as James Brown created a style of grooving where the downbeat is the beat that is emphasized. It originated from soul music though it contains mixtures of jazz and R&B.
Characteristics of the Genre
Funk music takes a special emphasis on melodies and chord progressions throughout the song. Funk is characterized by a rhythmic onbeat/offbeat structure usually played in the bass line. Funk also has a lot of guitar riffs allowing there to be intense grooves. Like other genres created by black people, funk music has complex grooves that allows the instruments melodies to intertwine with one another. It uses similar extended minor chords that are usually found in bebop jazz.
Some major performers that held a ginormous impact in the performance of funk music are:
- The Gap Band
- Sly and the Family Stone
- Earth, Wind, and Fire
- James Brown
- The Isley Brothers
- The Whispers
The commodification of funk allowed for it to be dispersed to more numbers of people within different races and cultures. White bands such as Wild Cherry with their song “Play That Funky Music” jumped on the “funky” soul train. This gave way to more white people buying and listening to funk music.
Influences of Future Genres
Funk music of the 1960’s and early 70’s was the perfect segway into the disco music of the 70’s and 80’s.
Elements of funk music can also be found in house, techno, and dance music played in modern clubs.
In short, the music of the 1970’s was Funk. This music stemmed from previously created genres such as jazz (fusion) and blues. This music of the 70’s was the most pivotal time in terms of Black creativity and artistry. The 70’s was a time period which helped finalize the stereotypical black sound that filled with bass, syncopated rhythms, and heavy beats that easily relate to all its listeners. While the term “soul” has been an important aspect of black music documented all the way back to times of Negro Spirituals to present day Blues music. This transformation into funk allowed for black to focus more on having a good time and feeling the groove (“getting lost in the beat”) in great opposition to the blues and soul music with came before it.