Funk Music Definition

Funk music intervened in the expanding industry of music genres in the 1960s. From soul and blues music, to the distinct vocals of James Brown, funk music is a "stew of jazz, blues, rock 'n' roll, soul, gospel and reggae," according to It has derived from the musical ideas of African American music, and features horn sections, funky guitar and bass riffs, and a soulful driven drum beat.

According to, the musical genre of funk is defined as "an earthly type of jazz combining it with blues and soul; has a heavy bass line that accentuates the first beat in the bar." The style has collected ideas from successful genres such as jazz and blues, and spiced up the beat patterns and guitar riffs to make it distinct from all other types of music.

By the 20th century, after African Americans had pioneered the culture of musical genres such as soul, blues and jazz, other cultures welcomed these genres with their own ideas. Americans blended African American music with gospel, classical and folk music, which created other types of music such as ragtime, big band, swing, and rock 'n' roll. Soul music exploded during the 1960s, and by the 1970s, a new voice from soul music created funk music. James Brown had an outspoken voice in soul that revealed the future of funk.

After succeeding in the 1960s as "Soul Brother Number One," Brown's hit recordings were "associated with the emergence of the black aesthetic and black nationalist movements, especially the songs "Say it Loud--I'm Black and I'm Proud" and "Don't Be a Drop-Out." By 1970, he had become known as the "Godfather of Soul" and began to "funk" his music up, which led to "several dance crazes," according to Other funk bands such as Parliament emerged into the funk music scene with a deeper, more groove oriented sound, similar to that of James Brown.

George Clinton, a music composer and arranger during the time of James Brown, created two bands: Parliament (formerly known as The Parliaments) and Funkadelic. While Parliament focused on the horns as the main instrument, Funkadelic emphasized the guitars. However, both styles of music contained a "deep, rhythm-filled groove," according to History of Funk, that had the elements of rock 'n' roll, jazz, urban, rhythm and blues, soul, gospel and classical. Clinton mixed together the styles of the two bands and titled it "P-Funk."

According to, after funk music emerged in the 1960s and '70s, many people viewed funk as "the soul of all black music, past, present, and future." Some musicians believe that funk is the most positive expression that America has ever experienced, because it is not only about the music, but about the culture of the people. The genre "epitomizes the successful end to the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and signaled the dawning of a new beginning for black folks in the 1970s." The feel and emotion of the music encouraged the black community and gave them a sense of power and humanity.

Approved by Jesse Anderson