Funk Drumming

The funk drumming section provides funk and jazz-fusion drum lessons that follow on from the rock drum lessons. The lessons cover ghost notes, syncopated funk grooves and linear drum beats.

Funk Music

Funk music originated in the US in the late 1960s drawing from soul, blues and jazz music. Funk is characterized by syncopated repetitive grooves, with simple chord progressions and melodies. Many other styles have been influenced by funk music, including disco and hip-hop. Funk bands are typically comprised of drums, electric bass, guitar, keyboard, horns and a singer.

Funk Drums

The stylistic features of funk drumming are:

  • Syncopated snare drum and/or hi-hat accents
  • Snare drum back beat not always on two and four
  • Syncopated bass drum rhythms that align with the bass line
  • Beat one not always emphasized by the bass drum

These drum lessons cover both funk drumming and jazz-fusion drumming which are very closely related.

Linear Drum Beats

The funk drum lessons include lessons on linear drum beats. Linear drumming means only playing one drum or cymbal at a time so that no two voices are ever played together. For example the following groove is a linear drum beat.

Linear drum beats have become popular in modern funk and jazz-fusion drumming. These drum lessons include many variations of linear drum beats. They include drum beats where only some voices are linear and grooves that are only partially linear.

Funk Drum Technique

Funk drumming uses a lot of ghost notes and syncopated accents on the snare drum and hi-hat. Ghost notes played on the snare drum and hi-hat should be so quiet that the listener can barely tell the difference between the two instruments. For most instruments ghost notes are notated by brackets around the note, however brackets are rarely used for the the drum set. In these funk drum lessons non-accented snare drum and hi-hat notes should be ghosted.

Hi-hat ghost notes are played by striking the the top of the hi-hat lightly with the tip of the drumstick. Hi-hat accents are played by striking the edge of the hi-hat with the shoulder of the drumstick.

Snare drum ghost notes are played by tapping the center of the drum very lightly. Snare drum accents are played either by striking the center of the snare drum or playing a rim shot. Rimshots are played by striking the center of the head with the tip of the drumstick while simultaneously striking the rim of the drum with the shaft of the stick. This produces a woody crack.

Play the ride cymbal a few inches from the bell for a controlled "ping" sound. Play the ride cymbal with a slightly lower stick height of 6 inches to control the wash of the cymbal. To play accents on the bell of the ride cymbal, strike the bell with the shoulder of your drumstick. For non-accents play the ride cymbal bell with the tip of your drumstick.

Ghost notes are rarely played on the tom-toms. Play all tom-tom notes as accents unless otherwise indicated.