[Harp-L] Funk Vocab

Just wanted to chime in on my favorite subjects...

Check the recent thread on scales re: blues and the likes.

And I'll repeat what I said before: One of the most popular sounds you'll hear in blues, jazz and funk alike is to take a blues scale (C Eb F F# G Bb C) and play it in the key a minor third above. People call this different things, but it's used in many genres, especially gospel and soul, blues and funk. So, in the key of C (C, C6, C7, etc... ) you play an A Blues Scale. Starting on C, it looks like this:

C D Eb E G A C

which provides you with the root, 9th, #9, 3rd, 5th and 6th degrees of the scale. Start playing that over the key of C and it will sound very familiar. A C Blues scale you would play in Eb. Many of the classic R&B licks fit right in there, like the cliche A to Eb to C lick played by everybody and his mother. Some say Everybody's mom has the most chops!

What has been said about rhythm is the undeniable truth. Maceo could play major triads over a drone, but if there's a nice 16th note groove happening, it'll sound like the moldiest funk you've ever smelled. If you want to be a better funk player, spend 30 minutes a day with hand percussion. Shakers, two drumsticks, your two hands on your knees. Use a metronome. Practice at a medium tempo (funk is rarely incredibly fast) and spend time accenting the different 16th note pulses of the beat. Most pros call them 1 ee and uh. So, for example:

ONE ee and uh TWO ee and uh THREE ee and uh


one EE and uh two EE and uh...


one ee AND uh two ee AND uh

James Brown and the TOP grooves are so juicy because they create complex variations, usually very syncopated, using what are called "2nd sixteenth" or "4th sixteenth" hits:

one ee AND uh two EE and UH etc...

The study of rhythm is obviously much deeper than all of this, but one thing is for sure. Having good rhythm, or what we call "good pocket", is a MUST when playing funk. MUCH more so than scales, I would argue.

Honestly, that's why we hear more shuffle blues bands out there, because that triplet based groove is a lot more forgiving than a tight 16th note groove. There's not too many harmonica players out there who can really lay down the funk, so it's a good time to get it together!

Email me offline if you have questions.

Damien Masterson http://www.damienmasterson.com or enter my name in any search engine http://www.myspace.com/damienmastersonmusic http://cdbaby.com/all/damienzm 415 305 7138 dzm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Damien Endorses Hohner Harmonicas and Audix Microphones

On Jun 6, 2007, at 9:20 PM, harp-l-request@xxxxxxxxxx wrote:
Today's Topics:
4. Re: funk scales (Roger A Gonzales)

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