Monday, 30 September 2013

That Nile Rodgers Funk Thang!

I can't really remember when I first got into funk guitar in the style of Nile Rodgers of Chic fame - disco music was never really my thing. The first wave of Disco passed me by in the '70's, I was just a little too young to be funkin' it up under the glitter-ball and plastic palm trees of the local 'hot spot'.

Forgive me for this tongue in cheek smirking at that disco lifestyle, but honestly, to me as a school kid in the late '70's disco meant John Travolta and Saturday Night Fever, the bearded and seriously flared Bee Gee's dazzling me with their scary too-white gnashers, or black guys like George Clinton wearing thigh-high white PVC boots and even dodgier Elton John style specs (remember those gold medallions too, uuurgh!)

But over the last few years (after drawing a veil over the dress styles) I have learned to actually appreciate the music, feel the groove, and get the funk. There was so much really interesting music in the '70's, so much experimentation and diversification, everything was fusing and melting into other forms or reshaping old genre's.

I now realize that a lot of what's called 'Progressive Rock' was and is much more intriguing than the rather dull examples highlighted and dissed (often rightly) by the mainstream media. For every Genesis or Yes, there's an Edgar Broughton Band or a Be Bop Deluxe.

But I digress, back to Mr Rodgers and his white Strat spanky twang.

Watching and listening to Nile I never knew some of those more exotic 9th, 7th and 6th chords could sound so rhythmically cool when played in a particular way. Its funny how he describes watching bar band players cover his numbers using full barre chords. As he points out, its what you don't play as much as what you do play. Barre chords often have "too much information", and the trick is to dampen certain strings on the strum while omitting others all together, that way you can get that authentic bum-chukka rhythm going.

~ H-Allen