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Differences And Similarities Between Soul And Funk

Posts 1 - 14 of 14
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    neuromancer56 : Sat 12th Aug 2017 : 3 years ago

    I tend to have a knack for creating Funk tracks, but I want to get more into Soul. I quickly realized that they have a lot in common. Soul seems to use the same core instruments as Funk, it starts with the drums and rhythms that seem similar, then the bass, and Rhodes. Funk seems to use more brass than Soul, but I have heard Brass in Soul too. Soul seems more like a toned down slowed down mellow funk with less exuberance. It's like the slow dance version of Funk when you want to get all close and personal with someone. The vocals tend to be more emotional and introspective than Funk which is more about having a good time. Soul seems to have the instruments do less and the vocalist do more.

  2. 1564425
    Rasputin : Sat 12th Aug 2017 : 3 years ago

    The chief things that distinguish funk are:

    1). a 16th-note feel to its rhythmic groove. This is true whether the groove is at a fast tempo or a quite slow one. Always that (to use a didactic metaphor) "huckleberry" feel.

    huck + kle + ber + ry

    giving that 16th-note feel.

    The second quality of Funk is the inclusion of anticipated and delayed emphasized notes. Rather than having a bass + drum come in on the first beat of a measure, the note will be anticipated (begun on the last 16th note beat of teh prior measure) or it will be delayed (begun on the second 16th-note value of the current measure.

    Those two qualities are essentially what makes a Funk feel happen.

    and, as always, most Funk tunes are going to include much use of the Blues Scale. Which is basically:


    In C, this wopuld look like:


    Although there are several subtle variations upon the Blues scale. ie., it might include perhaps a natural third as well, possibly a natural 7th note.

    Because Funk is more of a "feel" than it is a specific musical genre, Funk has crept into to many other pop music genres, like Soul, R&B, Disco, Straight ahead Pop, Hard Rock, Techno, EDM, even modern Country-Western (after about 1975 or so).

    Most amateur garage-band type guys will say things like, "Okay, play it funky now!" Although they have no idea what a Funk feel strictly is. They usually just mean, "Now play it with more feeling/intensity/decisiveness."

    So learn to recognize those three qualities of Funk:

    1). the all-important 16th-note feel of the beat
    2). The frequent use of anticipated and delayed notes, and
    3). The frequent use of the Blues scale

  3. 1041668
    wikkid : Sat 12th Aug 2017 : 3 years ago

    Hi Neuromancer,

    There are times when Sam Smith's voice has more soul imho than some of the current R&B singers, because soul transcends the genre of soul music. Soul music had greats like Sam and Dave, Etta James, Ray Charles among others. Funk was an offshoot of soul, or the natural progression for musicians (and singers) of that musical era.
    The best way to learn is to study the greats of the field. Aretha Franklin was dubbed the Queen of Soul for a reason. Whether she sang slow songs or fast songs, her gospel tinged vocals and phrasing stirred something in listeners. She also played keyboard, so her backing music has a number of chords/changes straight from gospel music.
    Much as I love Dionne Warwick, check out her version of Say a Little Prayer for You and Aretha’s version. You will hear the difference and notice Aretha’s soul inflections. That’s not to say Dionne didn’t have soul. She did. It was just more nuanced (I love, love, love Message to Michael).
    James Brown could do soul and funk. His vocal emoting on Try Me and This is a Man’s World are two soul examples. Then there’s the funk of Get on the Good Foot and Hot Pants.This is the musical era I was brought up in, so I soaked up as many influences as I could. In addition, for many years I was the singer in several R&B and funk bands, so there were nights I’d switched from Minnie Riperton to Chaka Khan, to Denise Williams, etc. in one set. Singers like Joe Cocker and Van Morrison, and the leads for Three Dog Night were soul singers.
    Funk music (I play bass also) was more about making people dance. Yes, it was also about making the audience feel, but I had to be in perfect sync with the drummer to get a live audience on their feet. slow it down to do a soul ballad like Jeffrey Osborne’s “Love Ballad” or something by Natalie Cole, like “Inseparable”. I could thump and pluck, now called slapping the bass on songs by Cameo or Slave.
    Check out Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and his vocals, as Stevie is one of the best representatives of soul and funk.
    So was Prince, and even Michael Jackson could get down and let loose with some serious soul riffs. Teena Marie, Rufus, the Commodores (when Lionel Ritchie was with them) Rick James, Annie Lennox, Peter Gabriel (Shock the Monkey, Big Time, Sledgehammer) helped continue the tradition in the 80s.
    Again, its about listening to as many examples of the both soul and funk. Patti Labelle knows when to blast it out and when to pull it back. Soul riffs can overwhelm a listener if not used properly. But to me, Adele is very soulful without being bombastic. Also, I’m loving Rag ’n Bone man.

  4. 1564425
    Rasputin : Sat 12th Aug 2017 : 3 years ago

    Arguably the very first Funk record was "Thank You Falettin' Me Be Myself(Again)" by Sly & The Family Stone in 1969.

    And to this day it is still a perfect example of using those THREE criteria of a Funk groove.

    But equally a record like "Neither One Of Us" by Gladys Knight & The Pips (1972) is ALSO a funk groove, though its tempo is MUCH slower. It is a Funk Ballad, you'd say.

    Kraftwerk's hits "Numbers" and "Aerodynamik" are basically Funk grooves.

  5. 1564425
    Rasputin : Sat 12th Aug 2017 : 3 years ago

    To my way of thinking, one of the chief things distinguishing a Soul record... is the inclusion of a Black Gospel Church feeling. Often church-y harmonies, and yes, very often a background of harmony singers, a-la the women described in the movie FIFTEEN FEET FROM STARDOM.

    When Mariah Carey does her big ghetto riffing in all her songs, that is a remnant of the Black American Church creeping in.

  6. 1564425
    Rasputin : Sat 12th Aug 2017 : 3 years ago

    Funk and Soul are usually warm in feeling. They sound like people and warmth and vitality and realness.

    In most EDM/Techno (and all its offshoots) usually the goal is to make your music sound as COLD as possible, like no human hands ever touched it. Kraftwerk unleashed a monster when they started making "cold" electronic music.

  7. 1041668
    wikkid : Sat 12th Aug 2017 : 3 years ago

    I meant to list more examples:

    Country soul:
    Webb Pierce "I ain't never seen nobody like you"
    Ray Charles - "I can't stop loving you"

    Jazz "soul"
    George Benson - "This Masquerade"
    Randy Crawford and the Crusaders - "Streetlife"

    I could list groups like The Emotions and record companies like Staxx and Chess for more soul examples (The Soul Children, name says it all) and current singers like Anthony Hamilton, but I'd like to list some overlooked artists who had plenty of soul in their music:

    John Fogerty
    Steve Winwood
    Janus Joplin
    Phil Collins
    Eric Clapton
    Annie Lennox
    Gene Pitney
    Elton John (yep, cuz Bennie and the Jets was a huge crossover hit, and Elton's voice is like buttah)
    The Righteous Brothers
    Johnny Rivers (big crush of mine)
    Bobby Caldwell (What you won't do for love is an R&B super classic)
    Amy Winehouse
    Michael McDonald
    Boz Scaggs
    Simply Red
    Tom Jones (It's not Usual, another classic)
    Average White Band (A Love of Your Own, another R&B classic)
    Blood, Sweat and Tears (their cover of Brenda Holloway's "You made me so very happy" was killer)
    Jamiroquai (Virtual Insanity)

    I'm pretty sure others can come up with more examples.

  8. 1041668
    wikkid : Sat 12th Aug 2017 : 3 years ago

    Hi Rasputin,

    The walking bass line of Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" is a personal favorite of mine. It's def influenced by Gospel music.

    Sly and the Family Stone ... sigh. I remember watching Larry Graham and realizing that I wanted to play bass just like him.

  9. 2276282
    neuromancer56 : Sat 12th Aug 2017 : 3 years ago

    There's something amazing about Stevie Wonder. I mean if you pay attention you get that he's doing Funk and Soul, but his music is just so good you just think this is an amazing song.. people who don't like Funk and Soul love listening to his stuff. Ray Charles is different. You know you are listening to Soul when you listen to him you feel it in your bones. There is something that ties both of their music together, but in some ways they are polar opposites.

  10. 1564425
    Rasputin : Sat 12th Aug 2017 : 3 years ago

    Hi, wikkid!

    Yes, so many great basslines. One of my favorite Soul/Funk basslines is "Mama Used To Say" by Junior.

    Know it?

    Then of course we get into real wildness with the songs of Scritti Politti, like "Perfect Way"

  11. 1564425
    Rasputin : Sat 12th Aug 2017 : 3 years ago

    I think Soul was often, yes, about pain. Not always.

    With Rap, suddenly Black artists wished to channel their pain into outright rage and confrontation.

  12. 1041668
    wikkid : Sat 12th Aug 2017 : 3 years ago

    Do I know it?
    Oh Hells yes.
    How about Groove Me, Baby by King Floyd.
    Souful vocals and funky bass line.

    Too bad "sock it to me, Mama" went out of style :)

    Jumping ahead, "Don't Disturb this Groove" by the System will always be a fave.

    The Emotions "I don't wanna lose your love" killer bassline and horns with a sexy vocal. And those harmonies!
    The Emotions are my favorite female vocal group.

  13. 1564425
    Rasputin : Sat 12th Aug 2017 : 3 years ago

    "Groove Me Baby" is almost a quasi-reggae thang, hm?

  14. 1041668
    wikkid : Sat 12th Aug 2017 : 3 years ago

    Hi Rasputin,

    Shaggy's reggae hit "Boombastic" sampled parts of Groove me baby before the remix was released using a sample of Marvin Gaye's Let's Get it on."

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