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Funk 2

In the last post I talked about using a combination of scratch rhythm and chords to create accented rhythmic grooves. But I only looked at accenting the first 16th and the third 16th notes of a four note group.


A reminder of those two:

funk - 1st 16th

funk 3rd 16th


You may be wondering about accenting the second 16th note and the fourth 16th note. Perhaps you’ve been playing around with them. If not, here they are.


funk 2nd 16th

funk 4th 16th

The procedure here is pretty much the same as what we did with the first and third 16ths. It’s just harder.


Body rhythms

It’s harder because of the way we use our body when we play. Most of us tap our foot on the beat. This makes it necessary to lift our foot on the offbeat.


Here’s what I mean:


So we have a clear movement for the downbeat (the number) and the offbeat (the “and”). But there’s no foot movement that corresponds to 16th notes. They’re somewhere between your foot going down and coming up.


Some people tap their foot on every 16th. Understandable, but this destroys the sense of the beat. Developing a good sense of rhythm means accenting the downbeat while feeling different rhythms in different parts of the body. Drummers do this every time they play.


So our foot “feels” the 8th notes simply by moving up and down. Our strumming hand “feels” the 16th notes. In doing so, it goes twice as fast as the foot. This requires body independence that can take a bit of work to attain. Be patient if this is difficult.


The new rhythms

As always, play the 16th notes slowly and count “1 ee and uh, 2 ee and uh, 3 ee and uh, 4 ee and uh”. Just use scratching to start. Keep counting. Now play a chord when you say “ee”. Loop that rhythm until you’re comfortable with it. You should still be playing slowly.

funk 2nd 16th

Now speed it up, but not too much. Funk generally falls somewhere between 75 and 90 beats per minute (bpm).


Which reminds me…


The metronome

Get a metronome if you haven’t got one already. I use this one.


Set it at a tempo slow enough to make the 16th notes easy to play. When you’re comfortable at that speed gradually increase the tempo. So if you start at 60 bpm, increase the tempo to 65, then 70, etc.


Here’s a good article on issues to consider when using a metronome.


Switch to the other new rhythm. Same procedure as the other one, but play the chord when you say “uh”.

funk 4th 16th


Mixing it up

Now create some loops using all four rhythms.

Here’s one. This is an exercise designed to challenge your concentration. No hook or riff is going to change this rapidly.

funk 16th note rhythm mixed


As always, take it slow. Then speed it up.

Create a few of your own by making one of the rhythms the main focus. Then improvise by inserting the other ones wherever it feels right to do so.

Or you can structure this work more by deciding to play one of the rhythms three times in each bar. Then fill in the fourth beat with one of the other three rhythms.


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