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Make it Funky!
Part 4: Funk Riffs
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: funk guitar primer
• Part 2: funk chords
• Part 3: funk rhythms
 
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"What songs groove the most? Add your opinion to a list that includes Cut the Cake, Sissy Strut, Green Onions, Papa's Got a Brand New Bag, and other funk classics"
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• Learning to Love Jazz
• Beginner Improvisation
 
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• Be an 80s Funk Star
• Car Wash MP3
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• Mayfield Remembered
 

Now is the time to see some of the techniques we've learned in action! The following are just a few of the thousands of funk songs that feature 9th and 13th chords, muted strums, and more. Try listening to each mp3 clip, and concentrate on replicating the guitar part exactly. In almost every instance below, mimicking the notes is easy, but capturing the proper feel of the guitar part is much more difficult. Be patient, and extremely picky. And, of course, be sure to have fun!


Listen to MP3 clip

This is a prime display of the funk guitarist's use of a 13th chord to create an interesting part. Concentrate on deadening the strings with your fretting hand. Avoid adding muted strums to fill in the space within the guitar part. Try to make the riff groove without any extra strums.


Listen to MP3 clip

The notes are easy - getting the feel right is much tougher. The key is to "pop" the strings with your pick - strike them firmly, with careful attention to rhythm. The muting (not included in tab) should all be done via the fretting hand.


Listen to MP3 clip

The classic opening cut on Blow by Blow, this features Beck at his funky best. Notice he avoids using any muted strumming, which you should try and reproduce. This is another example of a 13th chord moving to the 9th chord.


Listen to MP3 clip

As is fairly typical of funk music, the bulk of this song is one chord. To create interest, however, the guitarist switches chord shapes, from an E7 to an E9, which changes the sound slightly. Notice the subtlty in the rhythm pattern - the first three phrases start with an upstrum, but the last one begins with a downstrum.


Listen to MP3 clip

This is a VERY common sort of funk guitar part, especially in earlier funk. The guitar is simply playing short quarter notes, staying out of the way of horns, and other instruments. When playing the flurry of 16th note strums at the end of the part, pay careful attention to playing the rhythms accurately. Note that the song is simply a 12-bar blues, played in a funk style.


Listen to MP3 clip

This is an almost cliche guitar part, that sounds cool, and can literally be played with one finger. The trick, of course, is the rhythmic aspect of the guitar part. Lots of muted strums here - pay careful attention to detail, and try to replicate the part perfectly.

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