music genre that originated in African-American communities in the mid-1960s when African-American musicians created a rhythmic, danceable new form of music through a mixture of soul music, psychedelic rock, jazz, and rhythm and blues (R&B)

Funk is a type of music from the United States that was developed in the 1960s by African American musicians and singers such as James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, George Clinton and The Meters. Funk music emphasizes the rhythm of the music. Funk music is dance music that mixes rhythm and blues music with soul music.

Funk bands use many rhythm instruments, such as electric guitar, bass guitar, drums, and keyboard instruments, mainly synthesizers and electronic organs. Funk bands also have people who play horns, including saxophones, trumpets, and trombones.

Role of the electric bass


In funk music, the electric bass has a more important role than in other styles of popular music. Many funk songs are based on a strong bass line (melody) played by the electric bass player. Well-known funk bass players include Bootsy Collins, Louis Johnson and Larry Graham of Sly & the Family Stone. Larry Graham invented a new style of electric bass playing called "slap bass technique." With this technique, the bass player slaps and plucks the strings to create a strong rhythm.



Late 1960s


The United States singer and musician James Brown was one of the first funk musicians. James Brown recorded a song in 1965 called "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" which is considered the first funk song. Other musical groups copied the rhythms and musical style developed by James Brown and his band. A band called The Meters played funk music in New Orleans. The Meters had hit songs such as "Sophisticated Cissy" and "Cissy Strut" in 1969. Another funk group, The Isley Brothers, had a hit song in 1969 called "It's Your Thing".

In the 1980s, funk music changed. Funk musicians began using electronic instruments such as synthesizer keyboards and electronic drum machines instead of electric bass, electric organ, trumpets, saxophones, and drums. Rick James had hits in the 1980s with funk songs such as "Give It To Me Baby" and "Super Freak." The band Queen had funk songs such as "Another One Bites The Dust." The musician and singer Prince had hit songs.

Some major names of early 80s funk include: Cameo, Zapp, The Gap Band, The Bar-Kays, and The Dazz Band.

In the later 1980s, two new styles of funk developed called "funk rock" and funk metal. These styles of music mixed funk music with rock and metal music. Funk rock and funk metal bands include Red Hot Chili Peppers, Living Colour, Jane's Addiction, Prince, Urban Dance Squad, Primus, Fishbone, Faith No More and Rage Against the Machine.

Funk music influenced 1980s hip hop music. Many hip hop musicians use funk songs by James Brown or George Clinton to compose new hip hop songs.

1990s and 2000s


In the 1990s and 2000s, hip hop influenced funk and funk rock bands included Outkast, and Van Hunt.

In the late 1990s, the band Phish developed a live sound that would come to be characterized by some as "cow funk" and by others as "space funk", which consisted of extended danceable grooves that accented beat 1 of the 4/4 rhythm (i.e. classic funk), while often emphasizing heavy "wah" pedal and other psychedelic effects from the guitar player and layered Clavinet from the keyboard player.[1] See the following collection for many representative examples-Phish Space Funk 3.0 Youtube

As well, 1990s and 2000s hip hop musicians continued to use funk songs by James Brown or George Clinton to compose new hip hop songs, there was also a popular West Coast hip hop genre that mixed with funk called "G-funk".


Further reading

  • Vincent, Rickey (1996). Funk: The Music, The People, and The Rhythm of The One. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-13499-1.
  • Thompson, Dave (2001). Funk. Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-87930-629-7.


  1. Whitman, Marc (2007-03-02). "Phish Friday | Fall '97, Not Just the Cow Funk Era". LIVE music blog. Retrieved 2020-12-22.