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Funk groove 1

A slow funk groove built around a ‘4-3’ bluesy double-stop.

Notes permalink

  • Notice the ‘ghosted’ notes, marked in drum notation. They’re played lighter than the other notes, and are important in establishing the groove
  • Start by practising this slowly and get the notes down; once you have them more or less committed to memory, work on feeling the groove
  • For the blues crunches, take your time before resolving the grace notes: they shouldn’t be too short
  • A few of the chords are marked with numbers of the chord degrees. Keeping these in mind helps when transposing a given lick to other keys
  • Try playing along with a funk drum loop. See if you can play ‘in the pocket’: hold back just a bit behind the beat

Jamming on the fly: creating your own grooves permalink

While playing existing funk grooves from a score or by ear is a worthwhile learning exercise, the ultimate aim is to be able to come up with grooves on the fly as you jam along in real time with other musicians or to a backing track.

It’s good to start simple, both in terms of notes and rhythm. A simple funk groove can actually be the most effective kind. Maybe take just a B flat in the left hand and the A flat above in the right and work with that. It doesn’t need to be rhymically busy. Leave space between the notes.

Below is an example I recorded:

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend learning this note for note. The point of the exercise is to practise coming up with your own grooves, starting simply. Record yourself and listen back, identifying what you like and don’t like.

If you’d like to jam along to the drum beat in this example, change the Keys dropdown from ‘Yes’ to ‘No’, and activate the Loop switch.

Closing thoughts permalink

Listen out for stuff you like, in recordings or at gigs. When I hear something that sounds cool — it’s often just a phrase — I might learn it and play it in different keys. The phrase, or something similar to it, will then find its way into my own playing when I’m jamming. I got the ‘4-3’ bluesy double-stop in ‘Funk groove 1’ from something I thought I heard in an Esbjörn Svensson Trio recording. Listening to the e.s.t. track back today, it turns out Esbjörn actually plays something different — but that’s OK because I’m happy with the lick I got out of it.

And remember you probaby don’t want to become a clone of some other player. They’re already doing their thing. The exciting part of the musical journey is finding your own path and arriving at a style that is your own.