Re: [Harp-L] funk scales

While certain scales may be cited in a "prior practice" funk context,
any scale can be funkifized.

You may not be able to go to Guitar Center and buy a funkalizer box
(hmmm . . .) but you can certainly build your own with parts already
lying around your brain.

What makes things funky? 

First and foremost, rhythm. Creating a rhythmic context, and then
playing a riff or lick against it, also in a rhythmic way, is like
taking a match (the lick) and striking it against the special surface
on the side of the matchbox (the rhythmic context) to get a flame (the

Along with rhythm comes the shape of your melodic statement, usually
short and laconic, as opposed to sweeping (sweeping is possible, but
first try short and to the point). Usually either on the strong beats
or very strongly contrasting with them - as opposed to floating or
gliding; funk is always anchored by a very short chain to the rhtymic
foundation. How it rattles and tugs at the chains is what we're after.

Now, some scales seem to lend themselves more readily to such
treatment, esepcially in American music. Scales that contain the blue
notes - minor 7th, minor third, flat five - in other words, minor
pentatonic, natural minor (dorian and phrygian, too), mixolydian, blues
scale. Of course these blue notes can be invoked in the context of
other scales as long as they don't clash in a hideous way with what's
going on. They can clash in a beautiful way; there is such a thing.

Now the challenge would be to take the most major possible scale - like
maybe the Lydian scale - which tends to be used by movie composers to
create a dreamy or hopeful or newborn sort of rosy atmosphere - and
funkifize that *without* using any blue notes.

So find some funky grooves. Then maybe just scat-sing some funky lines,
concentrating on rhythm. Then try transferring that to a scale on an
instrument. Some scales will be easy to funkifize, others more of a
challenge. I'd suggest starting with something like the blues scale on
minor pentatonic. Then work around to mixolydian,
major-pentatonic-larded-with-blues-scale (as suggested by Richard),
major-with-injected-blue notes, pure major, Lydian, whole tone,
ascending melodic minor, etc. 


--- Richard Hunter <turtlehill@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> "46long Blake" wrote:
> <I dunno, I kinda like the idea of a "funk" mode. Then again, I'm
> sure
> <that the theory monsters on this list might object......
> Dunno if I'm a theory monster, but I don't object.  I transcribed a
> lot of King Curtis solos when I was working on "Jazz Harp", and I
> found that he used two scales most of the time:
> 1)  Pentatonic (in C, C-D-E-G-A). He used this scale going up and
> down, and circling around a note with rhythmic riffs.
> 2)  Blues (in C, C-Eb-F-G-Bb)--often with passing tones. He liked
> this scale especially for dramatic, long lines descending from a big
> high note.  He also used blues scale licks as a contrast to the
> pentatonic lines.
> There's yer funk modes.  And remember, ya can't spell funk without
> fun.
> Regards, Richard Hunter
> latest mp3s always at  
> _______________________________________________
> Harp-L is sponsored by SPAH,
> Harp-L@xxxxxxxxxx

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