The Funky Drummer (v01)

Alternatively titled:

How I am learning to play guitar.

Further alternatively titled:

The real secret to success in music.

For some time I have claimed to be a “Funkateer” in Bootsy lingo, or a student of The Funk. Well, in my studies, I have recently turned back very intensely to the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, his catalog being the “Written Torah” of funk. Yes, I have spent my mornings playing my unamplified electric guitar to James Brown and The J.B.s tracks, mostly from the early to mid 70s.

In so listening, my ears locked onto an eight-bar drum break in the track, The Funky Drummer. “How perfect for sampling and laying tracks over,” my mind quickly followed.

And so that’s what I did. I ripped the said eight bars of seminal Clyde Stubblefield funk drumming, punctuated by Brown’s own percussive exclamations.

So fascinated by the drumming on this piece was I that I felt compelled to research it, and found a surprising treasure trove of information concerning the very eight bars I sampled on Wikipedia. Turns out this is the number one most sampled piece of music. Ever. To the point where using it is now considered cliché in some circles. Not concerned with some circles, I remained undeterred in my own experimentations.

This morning I sat down to record guitar tracks (second attempt) over the looped sample and bass line I recorded with keys earlier. All I can say is that there is nothing more fun than making up funk guitar parts, learning them, and recording them. Even if I never “use” this for anything, the most important thing is being accomplished, that thing being fun.

And I think that’s a big secret behind music, especially FUNk music, that it should be a fun and joyous process during its realization. Sometimes it’s laborious, and a chore. Sometimes there are blockages. But even at the worst sessions, they were what they were, and we don’t know their actual significance in the Grand Scheme of things. I learn this from Zen. Every sitting is the first sitting. It’s unique and is what it is. No more, and no less. Ultimately that’s how I feel not only about the musical process, but the “end results.” Like everything else they stand on their own, above judgment, just being what they are. Music has a soul.