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Funk, Soul and Rhythm and Blues

Funk, Soul and Rhythm and Blues | By Tex Johnson

In 1970, a new strand of Rhythm and Blues (R&B) was hitting the airwaves, funk music. Rhythm and Blues artists like Little Richard, James Brown, Parliament Funkadelic, and the Meters helped to pave the way to R&B Funk topping record charts and filling nightclubs with a funky new beat.

Psychedelic soul hit the music industry in the late 60’s giving the R&Bs a blend of rock and soul with that had an upbeat tempo that one could move their feet to on the dance floor. It was the crack that led to the opening to funk and disco a few years later.

Funk music could be classified as a mixture of soul music with a dash of jazz, and R&B, with a strong rhythmic groove built from the electric bass, drums, and the electric guitar. They often have a strong horn section as well where the sax added the soul and the trumpets and trombone accented the rhythmic beats.


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When taking a trip down funk music memory lane you can’t help think back to the 70’s artists such as Rufus feat, Chaka Khan, Earth, Wind & Fire, Eric Burdon & War, Tower of Power, Average White Band, The Commodores, and Kool & the Gang. The thing with funk music back in the 70’s and still today is that no one band or artists was bound to just that one style of music. These same artist and many more also played other genres of music such as disco and rare soul music. Funk just opened the doors to new venues as well as new genres of music such as disco beats, hip hop, and go-go and punk music.

By the early 80’s funk took on a bit more of a spin and became more sultry and sexual in content with the help of artists such as Prince. After all, the initial oncoming of funk was based off the idea of getting your groove on or sexual intercourse to be more direct. A song would start with a slow rhythmic groove working up to a harder, pounding, and more insistent and demanding rhythm.

The 80’s also brought musical instrument changes to the traditional funk sounds with the exchange from live horn sections to synth keyboards, organs and pianos were replaced with electronic machines and synthesizers as well. Even the drums were replaced by electronics taking a good part of the show out of funk today. Lyrics that used to be innuendos of sexual content have become straight out obvious sexual content.

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The late 80’s and early 90’s brought funk into yet another light as rock bands started incorporating funk sounds to their venue calling it funk rock or funk metal. However through all the changes of Funk R&B influences that earlier performs such as James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, Curtis Mayfield, The Meters, The Funk Brothers, and Bootsy Collins still remain.

Tex Johnson runs the highly popular R&B and Rare Soul Grooves website featuring Soul Music TV. Want to watch FREE 24 hour Soul music Internet TV and receive 4 FREE Rare Soul CD Samplers?  Then visit: http://www.raresoulgrooves.com/artists
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