> > 10 Old School Funk Grooves Every Drummer Should Know

We present 10 songs, which are totally dominated by groove!


Why does funk, R&B and soul music from 50 years ago still sound fresh today? One reason is because the grooves were so deep. Many drummers today focus on developing incredible technical facility on the drums, but miss something much more fundamental: how their grooves feel. The great funk and R&B drummers projected feel and emotion through every note they played. Today drummers are putting their heart and soul to their music as well, that’s for sure, so don’t be mad- the spirit lives on!

There are a few things to keep in mind when trying to play funk authentically. Funk drumming often comes down to feel more than metronomic time-keeping skills. When you listen to those old songs, you may notice occasional tempo fluctuations from section to section. They could play time as well as we can, but click tracks weren’t commonplace yet so they let the music ebb and flow from section to section. With our current worship of the click track and quantized music, it might sound like heresy to mention it, but slight tempo shifts can musically lift one section out of another to create excitement. Another aspect of feel comes down to swing. Some funk grooves are played very straight while many others utilize slight degrees of swing. There is a wide range of possible feels between a straight eighth-note groove and a triplet shuffle. Many funk grooves are played somewhere in the middle, so learning to play half-swung feels is necessary to become a good funk drummer. When playing funk, don’t go for that wide open “Bonham” sound. Funk drummers muffle and tune their kits for the style. The kick drum is muffled, resulting in a deep staccato thud that really kicks you in the chest. Funk snare heads are often tuned as tightly as a tabletop for a crisp, high-pitched snap that cuts through the band. A little muffling helps keep funk’s busier grooves sounding clean and precise. Toms often are tuned low and are often muffled as well.

A word of advice: fills are fun, but when playing funk, generally try to avoid them. Commitment to the groove is everything. When you’re grooving hard, you don’t want to interrupt the flow with fills. Stick your groove in their faces instead.

And finally, here they are- the groovy songs of the past, which are still as fresh, as they used to be back in the day:

  1. Stevie Wonder- Uptight (drummer- Pistol Allen)



2. The Staple Singers- I’ll take you there (drummer- Roger Hawkins)


3. Tower of Power- Oakland Stroke (drummer- David Garibladi)


4. The Meters- Cissy Strut (drummer- Joseph “Zig” Modeliste)


5.  The Fifth Dimension- Puppet Man (drummer- Hal Baine)


6. James Brown- Cold Sweat (drummer- Dave Stubblefield)


7. James Brown- Funky President (drummer- Allan Schwartzberg)


8. Aretha Franklin- Rock Steady (drummer- Bernard Purdie)


9. The Winstons- Amen Brother (drummer- Gregory Cylvester “G.C.” Coleman)


10. Prince- Sexy MF (drummer- Michael Bland)


Enjoy the listening! Let these songs be the inspiration for you and your drumming, alway remeber about making your musical horizons wider and wider everyday. Let there be groove!

Source of information: reverb.com