E9 THE Funk Chord
Now of course Funk as a genre uses a lot more than one chord but if you're getting started with Funk you going to find that E9 comes up a lot - partly I guess because E is the lowest note a 4 string bass player can get to and that 9th sound is super funky!
We'll be looking at many more chords later in the course, and we'll also be checking out E13 and E7#9 as well to give you some variations to experiment with!
1. Clean Chords
Most important is that you can get your chords clean and that every note is ringing out clearly. Spend some time doing that old exercise you probably used as a beginner - strum, pick up out the notes one at a time, then strum again. Pay particular attention to the note on the 4th string which is easy to mute accidentally!
2. Lift For Scratch
Next you want to make sure that you can lift the chord and get a good 'scratch' while keeping the fingers in position. So strum the chord, then relax it and make sure that all the notes are muted when you strum again. Then reapply the pressure and check you have a good clear chord again. Then lift and check the mutes. Repeat. Repeat. Big deal!
3. Lift For Mute
Also important is that you notice that relaxing the chord grip stops the notes of the chord which is a really important element in groove creation. So play the chord and then relax your grip and make sure all the notes stop ringing out. Repeat. Lots ;)
4. Have Fun
So we've covered now a great Funk chord (E9) and basic Funk strumming technique so before we get into more technical exercises it would be worth you just exploring these few ideas and seeing what you come up with. Try out adding in the 13th or the 7#9 and just see what happens :) Enjoy it!
Real World Examples
There are loads of songs that use the good ol' E9 chord - a couple of obvious examples to hear it in action are:
Play That Funky Music - Wild Cherry
Sex Machine - James Brown
You ain't never going to get the Funk if you're not listening to the greats! So with each lesson, I'm going to recommend a funk album for you to sink your ears into and help you get in the groove - some of the all-time classics and maybe some slightly less known albums too that I really dig.
Average White Band - The Very Best Of... (1975+)
I love the Average White Band, they have some incredible guitar parts and wonderful interplay between the guitarists (Hamish Stuart , Onnie McIntyre & Alan Gorrie). They're Scottish which seems an unlikely place for one of the finest funk bands of all time to have come from, but man they cook up some amazing grooves.