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#1
Okay, I have been playing for about 4 years, I know many basic chords, and I know some the standard chords that belong to different keys. (ex. I know the chords C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim can all be played in the key of C)

But I want to start playing Funk (my favorite band is Red Hot Chili Peppers), and I don't know which chords can all go together.
"Your position and your relationship with music has to be one from the inside." - John Frusciante
#2
You've been playing for 4 years and you need help with funkish chords? I've been playing for under 2 years and can do 4 string sweeps, and can play pretty damn hard stuff. Well anyone, try stick to 7th or 9th chords. You can try like a play of the chord and do some muted harmonics and sweep them funky. If you have feeling for music, you will be able to do it and understand. Check out purple haze and the main 3 chords jimi uses. The first chord works for it, Think its a D9+ chord.

Try something like this:


e|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---8-8--x-x-x-x--8-8-x-x--8-8-8-8----------------------------|
G|---7-7--x-x-x-x--7-7-x-x--7-7-7-7----------------------------|
D|---6-6--x-x-x-x--6-6-x-x--6-6-6-6----------------------------|
A|---7-7--x-x-x-x--7-7-x-x--7-7-7-7----------------------------|
E|--------------------------------------------------------------------|

e|---5/--7---5--x--5--5----5---5----5-x---7--6--5--------------|
B|---5/--7---5--x--5--5----5---5----5-x---7--6--5--------------|
G|---5/--7---5--x--5--5----5---5----5-x---7--6--5--------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------|

If you get it :P
Last edited by zakarai at Jul 23, 2010,
#3
Quote by zakarai
You've been playing for 4 years and you need help with funkish chords? I've been playing for under 2 years and can do 4 string sweeps, and can play pretty damn hard stuff. Well anyone, try stick to 7th or 9th chords. You can try like a play of the chord and do some muted harmonics and sweep them funky. If you have feeling for music, you will be able to do it and understand. Check out purple haze and the main 3 chords jimi uses. The first chord works for it, Think its a D9+ chord.


you sound like a prick, just and help the guy out and leave the bragging out.
#4
Quote by zakarai
You've been playing for 4 years and you need help with funkish chords? I've been playing for under 2 years and can do 4 string sweeps, and can play pretty damn hard stuff. Well anyone, try stick to 7th or 9th chords. You can try like a play of the chord and do some muted harmonics and sweep them funky. If you have feeling for music, you will be able to do it and understand. Check out purple haze and the main 3 chords jimi uses. The first chord works for it, Think its a D9+ chord.


Don't listen to him. He's an idiot. For the record, the first chord in purple haze is an E7#9. Here are some YouTube funk lessons. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlnZ05SGvlk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuUAWtyLHQs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMdU_lS3Izk
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#5
Lol. Apologies for lowering your self a steam or whatever I offended you by
#6
Quote by zakarai
Lol. Apologies for lowering your self a steam or whatever I offended you by


You should be apologizing for posting incorrect information and offering advice on topics about which you clearly have no knowledge.
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Yer pretty fly for a Canadian.
#7
Well, I'm sorry for getting one chord wrong :P And anyway, I know funk. I play it a little. And the tabs I posted work. Trust me xD
#8
Quote by zakarai
Well, I'm sorry for getting one chord wrong :P And anyway, I know funk. I play it a little. And the tabs I posted work. Trust me xD


This coming from the kid who also told someone NOT to record unless they can sweep pick. You're an idiot.
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Yer pretty fly for a Canadian.
#9
Wtf? I Didn't say record only if you can sweep. I just said I don't see the point in getting recording equipment if you suck. Sweeping isn't much anyway. It's boring.
#10
Quote by zakarai
You've been playing for 4 years and you need help with funkish chords? I've been playing for under 2 years and can do 4 string sweeps

pfffffft, you can't even do 5 string sweeps? I've played for 1½ year and I can play 6 string sweeps! noob
#11
Take it easy, both of you. Neither of you seem to be trying to help out TS at the moment.

zakarai was correct in mentioning that funk uses a lot of extension chords. You should learn how to construct different types of 7th and 9th chords, as well as add9 and various alterations on your extension chords.

Although what funk really boils down to is the feel and rhythm. The chord stuff is pretty simple really. Your best bet is to listen to a bunch of funk and learn through studying it.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Jul 23, 2010,
#12
Quote by Guitar92player
But I want to start playing Funk (my favorite band is Red Hot Chili Peppers), and I don't know which chords can all go together.

Try jamming just using the chords you're familiar with, like the ones you mentioned. From there, you can use substitutions for added flavour.

Quote by food1010
Although what funk really boils down to is the feel and rhythm. The chord stuff is pretty simple really. Your best bet is to listen to a bunch of funk and learn through studying it.

And what this guy said.
#13
You're right Food. I lost focus of the original question after I posted the lessons. +1 to your advice on extended funk chords. Personally, I think a good starting point for getting into funk would be learning some funkier Red Hot Chili Peppers (Charlie, Hump de Bump, Mellowship Slinky, etc.). It's popular music inspired by funk, so it's easy to get into and learn. Frusciante is very good at what he does, although I would consider most of his funk-influenced stuff quite basic. From there, check out some James Brown and transcribe as many of the instruments as you can onto guitar to understand all the different components of funk (bass and drums forming a groove, percussive guitar, etc.). Check out as many funk bands as you can find.


Quote by zakarai
Wtf? I Didn't say record only if you can sweep. I just said I don't see the point in getting recording equipment if you suck. Sweeping isn't much anyway. It's boring.


Really? Lol, that's not what this quote says:

Quote by zakarai
Well first of all, Don't bother getting recording stuff if you suck. How long you been playing? Get friend and families opinions. No point in wasting money on recording stuff if you sound horrible. If your good (such as being able to play Canon Rock or sweep) then ok, you could get stuff. But all you want recording stuff for is to hear yourself???? You can hear it through an amp surely?
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Quote by Jackal58
Yer pretty fly for a Canadian.
#14
i know it may not be of much relevance, but i'm getting into the same sort of thing as you. what i've found is helping me figure it out is taking the pop bands that are using funk in their playing, learning their songs first, and slowly phasing into the more complex stuff. so, things like maroon 5, green river ordinance, the cab, gavin degraw, james blunt, train, etc.

its really helped my playing out to start piecing together the simpler stuff and figuring out how it all works. from there you can build up to the harder funk bands, as well as actually start putting together your own stuff with more ease.
#15
Quote by Jimmy_Page_Zep
You're right Food. I lost focus of the original question after I posted the lessons. +1 to your advice on extended funk chords. Personally, I think a good starting point for getting into funk would be learning some funkier Red Hot Chili Peppers (Charlie, Hump de Bump, Mellowship Slinky, etc.). It's popular music inspired by funk, so it's easy to get into and learn. Frusciante is very good at what he does, although I would consider most of his funk-influenced stuff quite basic. From there, check out some James Brown and transcribe as many of the instruments as you can onto guitar to understand all the different components of funk (bass and drums forming a groove, percussive guitar, etc.). Check out as many funk bands as you can find.
Yep, great advice. In fact, the Chili Peppers were the band that got me into funk! I was listening to Higher Ground one day and I decided "I'm going to buy a bass and learn how to do that." And here I am.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#16
Dude, I would start learning some James Brown. If you wanna work out a groove try learning some of the Meters instrumental stuff.

However, funk is much more about the rhythm and feel of the groove than it is about the chords you play. You can make anything funky if you give it the right rhythm.
There may be times when it is impossible to prevent injustice, but there should never be a time when we fail to protest it.


Take a trip down the Scenic River


Call me Charlie.
#17
To add to what others have said, a big part of funk guitar is left hand muting. You play a 16note rhythm on one chord lets say E9 or E#9 but kind of swing the rhythm a bit while muting with the left hand with some of the strums... its hard to explain but this guy has done some videos that show you what I mean...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeFGpvWSUTg
#18
Yeah, a lot of funk is how you play, not necessarily what you play. Learning barre shapes will help for funk. Hell, learning any new voicings for chords will help.
Oh yeah.

Quote by hildesaw
A minor is the saddest of all keys.

EDIT: D minor is the saddest of all keys.
#19
Quote by food1010
Yep, great advice. In fact, the Chili Peppers were the band that got me into funk! I was listening to Higher Ground one day and I decided "I'm going to buy a bass and learn how to do that." And here I am.


Thanks, man. RHCP got me into funk as well. I'm by no means a funk expert, but they definitely started my appreciation for the genre, and really inspired me to listen to new bands and learn how to play in that style.

As has been said by a few people in this thread, it's not so much about the chords as it is how you play them. Extended chords have their place in funk as they do in almost all styles of music. However, you can make any chord sound funky. At the risk of exhausting this example, Frusciante often uses regular major and minor chords in his funky progressions. These may not be the "typical" funk chords, but he makes them work by using a percussive attack and fretting his notes lightly. Check this video out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oN3RY31up5U

He jams for a bit and then explains his technique for playing James Brown inspired funk guitar.
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#20
Quote by zakarai
Wtf? I Didn't say record only if you can sweep. I just said I don't see the point in getting recording equipment if you suck. Sweeping isn't much anyway. It's boring.


video for proof, or its bullshit
#21
When I was at music camp last year, I had a guitar player who had a doctorate in Jazz Guitar from New England Conservatory help me out with the guitar part on this funk song the jazz band I was in was playing. Basically what I ended up doing was playing the top notes of whatever chord barred. The Rhythm he showed me to play for that particular song was more so percussive notes (dead notes) than it was the actual chord. However, what rhythm you should use depends on the song. When you play in a jazz band, you get to play funk every now and then, and at least for me, it's always the most fun haha.

Not to heat up the argument, but I've been playing for four years and never sweep picked once. The genres I play don't really require it (Alt. Rock, Jazz, Bluegrass/Acoustic, Singer/songwriter stuff), so learning it was never a priority for me, whereas learning practically every chord shape there is, improvising, and such things were. I also own recording gear (budget mics, interface, nice computer, etc.) and record now and then, usually my own stuff. If you play metal/shred, yeah, you'll need to sweep most likely. If you're going to playing funk, I don't think sweeping is essential, and thus should have never been brought up in the first place. sorry if I made this whole deal worse.
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#22
Anyway, whoever the first guy to reply to my thread here is,..I know a lot more than what I said. I have been recording in a band I'm in, I know most chords, just not sure how and when to use them sort of. And good for you, you can sweep pick, do you want a trophy..jk..sweep picking isn't necessarily important, only if u like to show off, true skill comes from the heart of your playing, what matters most.

I didn't bother looking at all ur posts yet, cuz from all the back-and-forth comments on that one guy, lol, so someone might have answered this next question:

What I meant is how do I know which chords would go good next. If I know what chords can be played in the key, I would do better at it. I know basic shapes for funk chords, I just need to know if it matters if it's all in the same key.
"Your position and your relationship with music has to be one from the inside." - John Frusciante
Last edited by Guitar92player at Jul 23, 2010,
#23
okay, i read through most people's replies.

Thanks to all, keep posting advice though. This is a great funk thread, haha.

A few mentioned Red Hot Chili Peppers, which is my favorite band of all time.
I have been studying a lot of RHCP's guitar styles from the first few albums recently, and I'm just amazed how they constructed such great funk songs.

Whenever I try coming up with a funk song, I get confused on which kind of funk chords to use.
"Your position and your relationship with music has to be one from the inside." - John Frusciante
#24
i wouldn't think of them as funk chords. as has already been said, i've seen funkier rhythms being played on all sorts of different chords. barre chords are probably the best place to start though. hell, even power chords will work if you want a more rock sounding funk. use whatever you're comfortable with, and build from there buddy!

a lot of it comes through in the technique and style of playing. once again, the muting techniques and accentuating certain notes really helps. sometimes the start and stop system for a more pop/rock sort of funk will work better, but usually that constant strumming with muting works beautifully for whatever your needs are. look into as many different bands/artists that use it. learn a few songs here and there, but make sure you listen to what they're doing, and look at the chords. funk is strange in that its not what you play, its how you play it.
#25
Hey dude.

Try out ninth chords, they are real funky

breaking them down and moving it around can give you real funky results.

-7--
-7--
-7--
-6--
-7--
-7--
Last edited by Funk Monk at Jul 26, 2010,
#26
^That's just a plain old 9th. In any case, 9s and #9s are typically the way to go. b9s have their place too but they aren't quite as common.

Anyway, one of the major components of what makes funk guitar playing funky is generally the approach to the instrument itself. It is really a lot more percussive in funk. Really taking any chord progression, taking a vaguely funky rhythm, and filling the dead space with dead note 16th notes will get you that sort of feel. But as far as far as your (stereo)typical funk chords go, just mess around with some #9s.
#27
Quote by zakarai
You've been playing for 4 years and you need help with funkish chords? I've been playing for under 2 years and can do 4 string sweeps, and can play pretty damn hard stuff.




TS, you'll want to learn 7th chords. Listen to some james brown and listen/learn to what the guitar is doing.

Also check out the intro to Jeff Beck's 'you know what i mean' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpJiTxGeHWo

You want to be using those type of chords - 9ths, 7#9s, and 13ths.
#28
Quote by zakarai
You've been playing for 4 years and you need help with funkish chords? I've been playing for under 2 years and can do 4 string sweeps, and can play pretty damn hard stuff

Drop the ego, if you've been playing for two years it's impossible for you to have gone over everything, i'm sure there's many things the TS does better than you.. just because you've worked on your sweeping more than he has doesn't make you the shit. If you're going to come on here with that attitude you better post some clips of your playing, because I bet you can't play nearly as well as you'd like to think you can.

The Chili Peppers, I don't really consider them pure funk, or true funk. More like white guys rock/funk stuff.. it's fun music though. Alot of times Frusciante is just hitting one like minor 7th chord over and over again, Flea's the reason the band is funky. Ive always though Flea and Will Ferrel made that band great, I don't care for Johnnys playing much.

Like others have said, its more about the strumming technique and rythym than the chord. Just try your major and minor 7th chords, major and minor 9ths.
Last edited by Peaceful Rocker at Jul 24, 2010,
#29
I know how to play funk style, and i do know some chords, like this for example: x76777

I know how to play the different muting and the types of rhythm.


So basically from what I am reading is that I need to learn 9th chords and stuff like that. So I guess I'll give that a try.
"Your position and your relationship with music has to be one from the inside." - John Frusciante
#30
In terms of what chords would go next in a funk progression, that depends a lot on what kind of funk you are playing.

James Brown, for example, had quite a few songs that were more or less vamps on a chord or two. Check out Get Up (I feel like a sex machine). The Meters also played entire songs that vamps on one chord, maybe two, or just on one groove.

Often bands will go from the 1 chord, a 7th or 9th or whatever, to the 4th chord in the key when they want to take it to the bridge. Then there are the funk bands that have super busy and complicated songs with many chord changes, many changes in time signature and keys and what not.

What I would do is learn as many RHCP songs as possible and check out what funk bands they listened to and then go learn their songs. Analyze the chord progressions they use, check out the chord changes. If they can make it work, so can you and once you realize what it is that they are doing you can steal it and make it your own.
There may be times when it is impossible to prevent injustice, but there should never be a time when we fail to protest it.


Take a trip down the Scenic River


Call me Charlie.
#31
Quote by Guitar92player
I know how to play funk style, and i do know some chords, like this for example: x76777

I know how to play the different muting and the types of rhythm.


So basically from what I am reading is that I need to learn 9th chords and stuff like that. So I guess I'll give that a try.
The example you gave is actually a 9th chord (E9 to be specific).

Quote by Seryaph
What I would do is learn as many RHCP songs as possible and check out what funk bands they listened to and then go learn their songs.
I know Sly and the Family Stone was a big influence on at least Anthony. They're another great funk band to check out.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Jul 25, 2010,
#32
So this past week I've been studying old Red Hot Chili Peppers. I looked at a few songs, and I saw a few things that confused me.

Some songs they are all over the place. Does key matter in funk or do you just play what sounds good? (obviously that 2nd question is always true, lol, you always play what sounds good)

This is why I am asking:

I learned their song "Me and My Friends" cause I love it so much, and I was jamming with a friend and we came to the solo part, and see, I never learned the solo, I usually improvise every solo I do, but I didn't know what key it was in.

I know a lot of songs can have different keys, but in funk it seems just too confusing. The 7th, 9th, 7#9, and chords like that just seem to throw me off.
"Your position and your relationship with music has to be one from the inside." - John Frusciante
#33
Quote by Guitar92player


I learned their song "Me and My Friends" cause I love it so much, and I was jamming with a friend and we came to the solo part, and see, I never learned the solo, I usually improvise every solo I do, but I didn't know what key it was in.

I know a lot of songs can have different keys, but in funk it seems just too confusing. The 7th, 9th, 7#9, and chords like that just seem to throw me off.


I just listened to it then. I think the solo sections are in D minor, whilst the verse is in E major. It's called modulation - that's what's throwing you off.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#34
Quote by Guitar92player
Okay, I have been playing for about 4 years, I know many basic chords, and I know some the standard chords that belong to different keys. (ex. I know the chords C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim can all be played in the key of C)

But I want to start playing Funk (my favorite band is Red Hot Chili Peppers), and I don't know which chords can all go together.


Obviously, you should go with what sounds funky rather than what makes musical sense. BUT, that doesn't mean there aren't a few things to be said along the way. I will break it down for you the best way I know how:

1)
Learn all your basic 7, 9, 7#9, m7, m6, and 13 positions. And no worries, either. You don't have to learn all the fat sounding 5 note positions. Simply learn the abbreviated chords that have only 3 or 4 notes. When in doubt, just include the 3rd and the extensions. You can play a nice sounding 13 with just the 7, 3, and 13. You can also play a nice 7#9 voiced as 3, 7, #9. Let the bass do the root work.
For instance: G7 = B, F; Gm7 = G, Gb, F; Gm6 = Bb, E; G7#9 = B, F, A#; G13 = F, B, E; G9 = B, F, A And God forbid: DON'T USE OPEN CHORDS!!! lol.... or at least try not to.

2) Start out your progression experimentation by taking a minor pentatonic scale, and putting a 7th or a 9th chord to each scale degree. Then replace the V chord with a 7#9. So if you were in the key of G, you'd use G7, Bb7, C7, F7, and D7#9. This is an early and easy approach used a lot in the beginning. Many people like Steve Cropper, Bootsy, Stevie Wonder, and RHCP have used this "framework." Think Soul Man.

3) When in doubt, try either a 7#9 or a m6. I know this sounds stupid as hell, but these chords just work in funk. And consequently, they both have a nice tritone personality to them. The m6 can carry a song as the tonic and be super funky. It is based on the dorian scale. Remember the music for En Vogue's "Never Gonna Get It" or Herbie Hancock's Chameleon?? Yeah, that was some dorian funk. ---The 7#9 (also labeled as "the Hendrix chord") works so well for a few reasons: One, it has a tritone AND a minor 2nd interval. It screams nasty. Secondly, if you take a minor scale and note that you will use a b7 in the pentatonic, it lets more of a pentatonic "feel" prevail when you throw in the V chord since technically, the V chord shouldn't have a b3 (which is the b7 in terms of the tonic). Finally, since it has the tonal equivalent of BOTH minor and major thirds, you have TONS of playing options with it.

4) As far as putting the chords together, think traditionally. For instance, start out with an E, A, B7 progression. Now, change it to Em7, A9, B7#9. See what I mean? Or take A, G, D and change it to A9, G9, Dm7. Then you can start getting freaky and try some things like take a C, Am, F, G progression and change it to C7#9, Am6, F9, G9.

Just biggest thing is just to play around. Use a particular voicing or progression that you really like and simply build on it. Try chromatic chord changes too. Hell, Chopin used to do that in classical. And Stevie did it in Superstition. And don't be afraid to "hang" on a chord or groove you like just because it may "sit" there forever. Junior Walker let Shotgun ride on one chord through the whole song. No changes! (Well, he does go I, I, IV, I in the chorus, but it's more a passing chord than an actual change) Listen to Joe Slam and The Spaceship from Harry Connick Jr. He was backed by various members of the Meters on that one. And it rides on one chord for quite a while.

Hope that helps.
#35
True funk chords seem to be centered around dominant and extended and altered dominant voicings. Its not just the chords, its also the rhythms, which tend to be 32nds and syncopated. Learn also key grips where only the note you want played is played and the other strings are muted entirely while playing across all the strings for a nice scratch rhythm effect.

Best,

Sean
#36
Quote by Sean0913
True funk chords seem to be centered around dominant and extended and altered dominant voicings. Its not just the chords, its also the rhythms, which tend to be 32nds and syncopated. Learn also key grips where only the note you want played is played and the other strings are muted entirely while playing across all the strings for a nice scratch rhythm effect.

Best,

Sean


Agreed. But I'd say most funk rhythms are based around 16ths and not 32nds. Most people simply won't subdivide single beats into 8 parts. >99% of all funk you hear can be expressed rhythmically in 16ths. And if it IS 32nds, it's much easier to double-time the tempo to make it "feel" like 16ths.
#37
thanks, you guys have been great help!!

so basically I should learn those chords, play what seems funky and not worry about musical sense.

I know how to play 9, 7, 13, and #9 chords a bit now.


The next thing I want to get down is soloing in a funky style, haha.
"Your position and your relationship with music has to be one from the inside." - John Frusciante
#38
Quote by Jonthecomposer
Agreed. But I'd say most funk rhythms are based around 16ths and not 32nds. Most people simply won't subdivide single beats into 8 parts. >99% of all funk you hear can be expressed rhythmically in 16ths. And if it IS 32nds, it's much easier to double-time the tempo to make it "feel" like 16ths.


You make a good point, its probably better to say 16ths and 32nds - depending upon the song and tempos.

Sean
#39
In funk all downbeats are important. If you are playing a 16th note pattern with some notes muted and some not, then put an accent on every downbeat. This will help you get that funk rhythm sound. Also listening to a come funk groups to hear there grooves will help with that to.

As far as chords go.... you don't need much. Many funk tunes are one chord jams. You don't need to use a fancy chord, but 7ths and 9ths do sound good for funk. If you want to link several chords together try some of the more common progressions.
#40
Quote by Guitar92player
thanks, you guys have been great help!!

so basically I should learn those chords, play what seems funky and not worry about musical sense.

I know how to play 9, 7, 13, and #9 chords a bit now.


The next thing I want to get down is soloing in a funky style, haha.


Just don't neglect those m7 and m6 chords

As far as solo interpretation goes, really the best way I've found is to just play blues licks (that fit that chord) with loads of attitude.

Something else you can do when learning to solo the funk is (oh.... you're gonna hate me for this) take a really good Nashville chicken-picker's solo, replace the twang with attitude, infuse some blues, and play it over a funky groove. Bam! Instant funk solo. lol

One more thing.... I once heard the bass player from Soul Coughing talk about how the funk always has something insane in it. Granted, they weren't the best or funkiest, but ol' boy's got a point. Every once in a while you gotta grab some notes that only make sense to the insanity. Just listen to Geddy Lee's bass fill starting at 3:27 of "Where's my Thing" HERE Notice how the last note is wickedly out of key and out of tune. And yet, it fits so well. That's what I'm talking about.
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