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Funky stuff

PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2015 8:08 pm
by Rob Hall
Adam reckons that Professor Longhair's original of 'Big Chief' is funkier than the dancefloor cover that I posted, and I'm not going to argue with him:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fHYAuAsDsA

But it set me to thinking about just what it is we mean when we say 'funky'. I'm sure there's plenty of erudite definitions all over the web from people who claim insight on the matter, but I suggest that, rather than attempt to define it, we illustrate it with examples.

So, in the spirit of fun (no dissing, play nice) let's have your nominations for favourite funky stuff.

I'm going to beat Jamie to it and go with the Meters:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_iC0MyIykM

Re: Funky stuff

PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2015 9:57 pm
by Jamie Renton
Rob Hall wrote:I'm going to beat Jamie to it and go with the Meters


Ah well, I'll just have to "make do" with James Brown then https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bztE5IbQOo

Someone on BBC4's recent doc on the history of funk said something along the lines of funk being the sound of all the instruments acting like the drum and I think "Cold Sweat" is a very good example of this (mind you, that programme failed to even mention The Meters!)

Re: Funky stuff

PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2015 11:25 pm
by AndyM
That doc is still on the iPlayer for a few more days if anyone needs to check on the definitions offered therein.

Not much gets funkier than this --
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wf5d0x-NtVo

Re: Funky stuff

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 12:02 am
by Adam Blake
Funk, in the sense that it is being discussed here, boils down to the expertise and panache with which polyrhythms are set in juxtaposition with each other.

Of course, not all polyrhythmic activity is funky, otherwise Terry Riley and Steve Reich would be funkmeisters, but polyrhythms derived and adapted from African music are generally considered to be the, um, thang

If you can listen through the chip pan noise to early pre-war country blues you might hear a guitarist such as Charley Patton deploying as many as three rhythmic patterns simultaneously with one guitar. Robert Johnson simplified things a bit later by juxtaposing duplets against triplets and thereby creating what became codified as the Chicago shuffle, which later, in the hands of Chuck Berry, became rock'n'roll.

The idea of treating all the instruments in a full scale r'n'b band as if they were drums was, I think, James Brown's with "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" in 1964, but the aforementioned Professor Longhair had been blending Cuban rhythms with African-American rhythms as far back as the late 40s (to say nothing of Dizzy Gillespie!)

Melodically, funk seems to have settled around the sound of and extensions off a dominant 9th chord - with chromatic sidestepping motions in both directions. (i.e., a chord of, say, G9 can be approached from either Ab9 above, or Fsharp9 below). Jimi Hendrix upped the stakes by introducing the chord of the sharp 9, this was quickly adopted by James Brown and became the signature sound of funk in the early 70s. Miles Davis liked it too, but he had his own fiendish agenda.

But I think, as Ted and I once agreed, you have to be black, and American. Or do you?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSq93Hsn0Bg

Re: Funky stuff

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 12:12 am
by john poole
AndyM wrote:That doc is still on the iPlayer for a few more days if anyone needs to check on the definitions offered therein.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0 ... r-a-groove
It got off to a bad start as far as I was concerned when, with Heatwave by Martha & the Vandellas in the background, Motown of the 60s was dismissed as "vanilla pop"

Re: Funky stuff

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 12:17 am
by Adam Blake
john poole wrote: Motown of the 60s was dismissed as "vanilla pop"



Ooooh! Unforgivable!

Re: Funky stuff

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 10:01 am
by AndyM
Adam Blake wrote:
john poole wrote: Motown of the 60s was dismissed as "vanilla pop"



Ooooh! Unforgivable!


Agreed, but the thrust here was to posit funk as an assertion of uncompromising black identity, and to make that case you have to nominate a contrasting black music which was less overtly political and keen to court white audiences. It's a reductive argument, but hey, it's television.

Mind you The Supremes At The Copa was a real album & it's unlikely that P-Funk At The Copa was ever going to happen.

Re: Funky stuff

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 10:25 am
by Adam Blake
Having been guilty of it myself, I have no patience with white people reserving for themselves the right to set the agenda of black music.

Re: Funky stuff

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 10:31 am
by AndyM
Adam Blake wrote:Having been guilty of it myself, I have no patience with white people reserving for themselves the right to set the agenda and interpret the history of black music.


Agreed again, but the historical line we both have problems with here has also been put across by lots of black writers & analysts (many of whom appeared in the doc).

Re: Funky stuff

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 10:36 am
by Adam Blake
Damn, I suppose I'll have to watch the programme before condemning it any further. How inconvenient...

Re: Funky stuff

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 11:34 am
by Chris P
there is even funk in folk. The band 'Flook' often achieved it. Nic Jones and Martin Carthy occasionally have achieved it. Yes, I reaIise some readers may find this hard to credit or a controversial claim, I can supply concrete examples, but I have other fish to fry right now

Re: Funky stuff

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 11:51 am
by Chris P
john poole wrote:
AndyM wrote:That doc is still on the iPlayer for a few more days if anyone needs to check on the definitions offered therein.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0 ... r-a-groove
It got off to a bad start as far as I was concerned when, with Heatwave by Martha & the Vandellas in the background, Motown of the 60s was dismissed as "vanilla pop"


likewise. That was a cringeworthy clunker and quite simply untrue. Still there was some good Parliament later on

Re: Funky stuff

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 12:32 pm
by Jamie Renton
It doesn't get much funkier than this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIckHF1cQJ0

Re: Funky stuff

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 12:36 pm
by john poole
James at the TAMI Show in 1964 -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGdmY0N1qZA

Re: Funky stuff

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 1:13 pm
by NormanD
At the risk of setting the agenda from my own culturally-determined perspectives, I wish to present this as an example of le grand funque d'Orléans Nouveau
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqF7F6q3Ebc