Exploration of Funk Drumming 1Mark Overson
Funk is one of the most enduring popular music styles to emerge from the African / American community, along with R&B / Soul music and Hip Hop.
Funk is a style that came about in the 1960’s, when African American musicians created a new genre of music by combining Jazz, R&B and Soul music. Funk brings a strong rhythmic groove of electric bass and drums to the foreground, rather than emphasizing melodies and harmonies which genres such as R&B and Soul music tend to focus on. The word “Funk” or “Funky” is thought to have originally come from New Orleans based drummer Earl Palmer in the early 1960’s, who was thought to have been the first person to use the word “Funky” to help to put across to fellow musicians that the music that they were playing should be made more syncopated and danceable.
Funk creates an intense groove or “feel” by utilizing strong guitar riff and bass lines, and these bass lines are quite often used as the centerpiece or drive behind the song in a drum like rhythmical role. Most Funk grooves are typically constructed on a two celled or two measure linear “onbeat” / “offbeat” structure, playing upbeat 16th notes on the “e” and the “a”, and playing the groove with a slightly “swung” feel to it. These three elements combined, is what tends to distinguish a typical funk or funky groove to us drummers.
New Orleans Funk typically merged both the Afro-Cuban and Conga styles or grooves together in the late 1940’s, and made it a new genre all on its own. New Orleans (funk) as it was called back then, gained international recognition in the early 1960’s, largely due to James Brown’s rhythm section using it to great effect.
Brown’s style of funk was based on merging funky bass lines, drums patterns from the likes of Clayton Fillyau, John “Jabo” Starks, Clyde Stubborfeild and Melvin Parker, along with syncopated guitar riffs, ensured that the James Brown style was, and still is easy to recognize today.
In this particular Exploration of Funk article, we are going to look at the main groove from the James Brown “I Got the Feelin” (drums by Clyde Stubborfeild) track that can also be found on the Onlinedrummer.com Beats section.
“I Got the Feelin” was released 1968, reached Number 1 in the R&B chart, and Number 6 in the pop chart, it also appeared on a 1968 album of the same name.
This can be quite a tricky little groove to master and play correctly, not only because it’s a busy little 16th note groove with a lot going on, it also needs to be played at 128bpm!!
Here is the Practice Groove transcription:
To assist with “nailing” this particular groove, listen to these four drum loop mp3’s, at 60bpm, 80bpm, 100bpm, and the correct (full speed) of 128bpm.
Start the groove off at 60bpm by listening to the below practice loop, then when you feel comfortable playing the groove at this speed, move onto the loops 80bpm, 100bpm and so on, until you can play the full groove up to speed at 128bpm.
“I Got the Feelin” (Practice Groove mp3 Loops)
60bpm Loop DOWNLOAD
80bpm Loop DOWNLOAD
100bpm Loop DOWNLOAD
128bpm Loop DOWNLOAD
And here is the original James Brown single from 1968 (45rpm) with Clyde Stubborfeild laying down the Funk!!