What is Funk Music? By: Erin Alford

Funk is a music genre that originated in the mid-1960s when African American musicians created a new form of music through a mixture of soul, jazz, and blues music. The genre began to grow with James Brown’s development of a signature groove that emphasized rhythms. Funk music usually provoked the audience to dance. It is an urban form of dance music that emerged in the late 1960s and gained popularity in the 1970s. Funk uses elements from a wide variety of musical genres, including rhythm, blues horn arrangements, jazz-oriented solos, guitar timbres, and vocal stylings similar to soul music. As a musical style, funk reveals the resilience and creativity of African Americans under changing social and economic conditions. These emotions are captured through the complexity of funk music. The “Godfather of Soul”, otherwise known as James Brown had great influence on the funk genre. James Brown was a musical revolutionary that broke barriers and created a new sound for African American music. Brown influenced so many artists, including Michael Jackson. With a career of over six decades, Brown is really the Father of Funk. Brown’s musical performance combined rhythm, bass, and percussion to create a sound for “dance music”. Call and response, and screams in funk music mirror characteristics of gospel music. Funk music incorporated styles from all music genres, and soon became a revolutionary sound that left a lasting imprint on African American music.



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