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5 great fingerstyle funk lines to learn on bass

Old school funk isn't really considered a popular mainstream genre anymore, and hasn't since the 70's and 80's but it's influence still stands strong. Many bass players and session musicians have a great love for the genre. It can be very difficult to pull off well because the music demands air tight accuracy and tightness paired with good feel and a strong sense of rhythm. There are many fantastic bass lines that a fun to play, great to jam with and serve as very good exercises to improve desterity strength and accuracy in your fingers. Here are 5 that are definately worth looking at


1) James Brown - Got You (I feel good)


Everyone has heard this song and could probably recite the most of the words back to you. Even without the vocals the backing music is unmistakeable and the bass line is literally the foundation of that music. It's a perfect example of the bass being the lead instrument in this genre with everything else built around it. This song very good for beginner level players.


2) Red Hot Chili Peppers - Give It Away


Not strictly classic funk, as the Chilis are more considered a rock band but they are known for having a huge funk influence in their music, especially their early work. This whole song was derived from Flea and Chad jamming over a groove and the others writing their parts over that foundation. The bassline is created from an A dominant 7 chord and rarely deviates. The root and 3rd groove over the kick and snare whilst the 5th and 7th are played in the form of slides up to the higher octave and back down. The only way to really describe it beyond that is it kicks arse.


3) Kool and The Gang - Jungle Boogie


Just to illustrate how cool this song is. It was used in the trailer and opening credits to the film Pulp Fiction. Most of the song hangs on a G dom 7, but twice it deviates to the hook of the song which is a 2 bar line that climes up and down incorporating chromatic notes and dotted rhythms and it is so unbelievebly catchy when the the brass section plays in unison with it.


4) Michael Jackson - Don't Stop Till You Get Enough


Obviously an iconic song by MJ. The bassline mainly groves by sitting on that B throughout the verse and choruses with occasional fills every 4 bars. The great thing about learning this is it's good practice sitting on the groove and it tests your ability to add quick cool fills without messing up that groove. The fills can be as complicated or simple as you like. You can use pentatinic licks, chromatics, Dom 7 arpegios. You can play around and come up with as many as these as you want, and then practise them over that groove. Doing this kind of exercise is an essential part of learning to be good at bass in my opinion


5) The Whispers - ...and the Beat Goes On


Probably most famous because Will Smith sampled the song in 'Miami' (but we'll ignore that). It has some very catchy funk bass lines. They are very fast and quite complicated so this song isn't recomended for beginners at all. It is great for more advanced players who want to step things up a notch and challenge themselves a little.


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