Origin & Characteristics

Funk emerged in the late 1960s and become very popular in the 1970s. It is seen as a form of dance music that has incorporations of blues and jazz. Funk has elements from various musical genres that include rhythm, blue styled arrangements, jazz and rock solos, guitar timbres and vocal styles from soul music. In the early days of jazz it was described as dance bands, black rock and jazz-funk. In the 1960s to early 1970s funk and soul music elements overlapped. The emotions that were presented in the lyrics showed social, political, romance and social relationships themes.

Funk shows the resilience presented by African Americans going through social and economic conditions. Funk is defined in the African American community described a feeling, attitude, philosophy and behavior and also a musical and cultural style. Funk was created by the Godfather of soul James Brown from his rhythm and blues rock style. Brown created a signature sound with rhythmic -melodic lines or riffs with an high energy dance rhythm. Funk broke the rules and crossed boundaries never crossed dealing with musical style. Funk has a polyrhythm foundation which is several contrasting rhythms played or sung simultaneously.

Like many other genres the lyrics of funk glanced into the life, experiences and worldviews of African Americans. Many artists and musicians expressed their emotions, feelings and identity in their music. Most would share the same experiences of growing up in working class communities and how that had an impact on the economic challenges many faced. In the late 1970s into the 1980s two recessions had took place and this placed a huge impact on the community. Many were frustrated with lack of opportunities, anti-affirmative action, segregation in the workplace. The created a response with funk were musicians wrote song to encourage the black community to come together, be happy and fight. Brown created Party funk and this became known as the happy music of funk.

As time went on funk took a new direction when artist George Clinton founded and was the lead singer of Parliament. This took party funk to another level, he combined party themes with black nationalism from the Black Power Movement and with this he created P-Funk a kind of pure uncut funk style. Clinton expressed in his lyrics Black cultural values and black communities. Clinton also promoted two fundamental concepts, self-liberation from social and cultural restrictions and the creation of social spaces for African Americans. Clinton really motivated the black community to not give into society pressure to conform to a white style of life.

In the late 1960s into the 1970s began the emergence of funk bands. The foundation of many funk bands was the element of groove, a syncopated and repetitive rhythmic foundation established with bass and drum. One of the most famous funk bands was Earth, Wind and Fire’ and Kool and Gang, By the mid 1970s’ many funk bands were being created all over the nation.

Important Performers

Bootsy Collins

Georgia Clinton

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Bernie Worrell

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Social Implication & Commodification

The music of James brown really touched the black community especially due to the Black Power Movement and the Civil Rights Movement. The black power movement was a movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s that emphasized black unity, pride and self-determination. The civil rights movement was a movement that began in the late 1940s that pushed for equal rights for African Americans. Brown’s music symbolized social and political change that was wanted by the black community. Messages of Black pride were spoke in his famous song ‘I’m Black and I’m Proud’ released in 1968. A contrasting artist Sly Stone spoke in his music universal love and peace and that everyone should get along as one. An example of this is the song titled ‘ Everyday People’ and ‘Dance to the music’. Georgia Clinton was another artist that heavily motivated the black community to fight and rise to the challenge of being heard. He made African Americans their blackness is a powerful tool in this world and that is something whites could never take away.

Influences of Future Genres & Conclusory Opinions

Funk music really spoke to the African American community. It was a style of music that was unique in various ways. Funk is a style that no matter the age or person it makes you feel alive and happy. I really enjoy funk music its touches that part of your soul that you can’t just resist feel the need to dance and feel the groove flow through you. Funk music influenced the genres of R&B and Neo soul that followed in the path of being a style of music that one would love and touched them in a way like nothing else ever could.