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Bring On Da Fonk (lessons)


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As indicated earlier in this thread, funk ain't my strength. Still, I'm learning. Today's lesson is Earth Wind & Fire's "Shining Star".


We're doing this in my band. This song was discussed in BP some years back (according to Getz76, who also told me to my great relief) that there are two bass parts tracked here). That's interesting to remember when listening, but not relevant to our funkanalysis.


There are some common elements here:


In the verses, the guitar is strumming pretty straight, but for mostly the first 3 beats of the measure, and laying out on the 4th.

If you listen closely to the you can here a very staccato something on the 4th beat of the verses (brass?)

The bass is heavy on the 1, and hits that high note (what might be played as a pop today) on the last 8th of the measure. The two bass parts are doing call-and-answer to each other (is Verdine playing with himself??? :wink:)

The drums are pretty straight.

The vocal rhythms are varied and have that funky feel. The vocal range is all over the place - verses high, low, with harmony, with octaves, etc.

In so many ways there are 8th notes running around - the intro, guitar fills, etc.

During the refrain, the rules change - the bass is playing a 2-bar pattern, with lots of syncopation that hits hard quarter notes on 3 and 4 of the second measure. The 1 is hit hard in the first bar, but not the second.

During the bridge, you've got that ripping guitar solo (EW&H are never limited to a genre), and these one-step walks up, which use a different (and more typical) syncopation than anywhere else in the song - and how they come out of the bridge !! after all that building, they hold/let it fade....and bang the 4th beat of the measure before going back into the verse.


To recap, lots of variation, lots of "hit the one", and lots of straight 8ths to cover underneath. And it's all tightly held together - I don't hear anyone getting off the metronome - it's all precisely done. That doesn't mean it's rigid or regular - when it's syncopated, you can count where it is - it's not floating around.


I look forward to others seeing what I've missed.



Acoustic Color


Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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