Hi all, today we tackle funk guitar technique and rhythms.
The number one thing in funk music is great rhythm. How do we get great rhythm to happen? If we keep our picking hand doing a steady down up movement, this helps keep our rhythm rock solid. But what will you practice to get good at that?
Get a piece of lined paper and write 1 e + uh 2 e + uh 3 e + uh 4 e + uh on it. Next put a bracket () around one of the numbers. Now, when you play, keep your hand moving down on the numbers and the + signs and up on the “e” and the “uh.” When you come to the (), miss the strings on that beat but keep the hand moving with the exact same motion. Try moving the brackets to an “e” and see what happens. You can add as many brackets as you want, just make sure you keep the hand moving with the exact same motion when you miss as when you play the non bracketed notes. This is a great way to generate rhythms and if you count and do this at the same time, it is an even better learning tool because you will be activating 3 types of memory, visual, touch, and aural.
Here are 4 examples I came up with for the video. I kept them purposely simple to get you started.
Okay, next up we are talking chord voicings. The voicings I always gravitate to in funk (because they sound super cool) are either drop 2 voicings, or 4th voicings. Drop 2 voicings work particularly well for staying out of the way of the bassist who wants his space to riff out. As I explain in the video, a drop 2 voicing is when you have a close voiced chord written in standard notation and you drop the 2nd note from the highest note in the voicing down one octave. Do that and voila, you have a drop 2 voicing! For 4ths, we take the scale we are deriving the chords from and harmonize them in 4ths (perfect or augmented) rather than the 3rd 5th 7th type harmony that is standard in most music. This creates exotic chords and when voiced on the D G B E string group, it keeps us out of the way of the bass player again.
Here are some harmonized scales using drop 2 and 4th chord voicings respectively.
Now it is time to put some of these techniques into action and so I came up with 3 examples for you to work on to get this style into your hands.
Check out the accompanying video below and enjoy working on upping your funk chops until next time!