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  #1  
Old 03-28-2011, 05:26 AM
wy yung
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Default Introduction to funk drumming.

Here is a basic entry level explanation into the drumming of what is known today as funk music. Space does not allow for a full explanation and indeed several books would cover only so much. I will try to focus on the historic basics. Hopefully people will find enough here to begin a search themselves if interested.

Like other forms of popular western (i.e. American) folk music funk has its roots in blues, jazz, Latin, African and many other musical forms that found their way through the Caribbean to the southern states of America and then up through the mainland. It is often difficult to isolate one style from another and indeed it is well nigh impossible. Soul is to funk what blues is to jazz and visa versa.

According to Earl Palmer in his autobiography it was he who gave the name to the greasy groove based music that was to become funk. If memory serves it was used as a description of a local drunk who to his regret, often found himself face down in the gutter. Why was this music thought to be greasy and funky? I have no real answer. Perhaps with the dotted 8th morphing into the straight 8th the jazz purist in Earl Palmer may have thought things were going down hill. That something was rotten. Nevertheless change would not be halted because as in his words “People were not buying jazz” and record sales were as always the bottom line.

So what about all this interests us drummers today? I would suggest feel and technique is key. How to develop the feel and the techniques used to capture the feel? What is the feel of funk? Does it have one specific feel? Must it be highly syncopated? Must it swing? I’ll leave it to you to answer those questions. Or not.

Something I love about funk drumming is that it allows for certain independence not normally associated with styles such as rock or RnB. It is indeed possible to work a syncopated rhythm based in the Swiss triplet to popular dance music. There is that element of jazz technique within it that I enjoy. Although without the improvisational element, found in jazz.

So where to start? The first answer I give is James Brown, especially the period from around 1964, through the early 70’s. Many signature grooves date from this period created by the wonderful jazz drummers who found themselves within the Brown ensemble. “Out of sight” “Cold sweat” “Sex machine” and others remain classics and contain vital lessons for us drummers today. The grooves usually powered along with a strong emphasis on the “One” of either a one or two bar phrase, usually played without drum fills. There might be a change such as a 13 bar bridge.13! Or perhaps the snare played on the one. James didn’t seem to care too much for rules. Important drummers to check out in this style are: Clyde Stubblefield, John "Jabo" Starks, Melvin Parker and others.

Clyde Stubblefield

http://www.youtube.com/results?searc...bblefield&aq=f

John "Jabo" Starks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ey2qm-y7G7U



Another great place to begin is in the music of New Orleans. The clave, second line, blues etc all led to many incredible artists. Probably the best known to the younger guys today is The Meters with the great Ziggaboo Modeliste on drums. Other artists include such notables as Allen Toussaint, Aaron Neville, Betty Harris, Dr John, The Explosions, Eddie Bo among many others. Drummers worthy of a search are many, but we can begin with a few names here: Herlin Riley, James Black, Johnny Vidacovich, Earl Palmer to name a few.

Herlin Riley.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqGJskz0mMU

Ziggaboo Modeliste

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r30mpBK-1rM

Johnny Vidacovich

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woprPaIX9dA

Another funk style often written about today is Bay Area funk, typified by the great horn band Tower of power. A band usually associated with the legendary David Garibaldi on drums, although TOP had many drummers such as Ron E Beck, Russ McKinnon, Hermann Matthews and others. What Garibaldi brought to the band was an extension of the ideas found within James Brown’s rhythm section with a more linear approach. This was often unwelcome by some members of the band who would have preferred a straighter 8th note approach. Nevertheless Garibaldi did get many of his ideas into the music and remains a giant of funk drumming to this day.

David Garibaldi, Soul Vaccination.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c0QEgJ_0l0

Tower of power, Squib cakes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDdBgxGUcOg

Another drummer known for his mastery of linear playing is Mike Clark, most famous for his tenure with Herbie Hancock’s funk jazz outfit, Headhunters. Here he speaks about his drumming.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xglvBageLfk

Chameleon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hmVHhH96es

Another earlier member of the Headhunters was the remarkable Harvey Mason. The album Funk in a mason jar, is one I feel every drummer with an interest in the style should possess.

Harvey Mason.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UibzwNoAQsk

Another drumming great who has played some great funk is Bernard Purdie.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afTagFhYOCo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gZpy...eature=related

Another groundbreaking act from the late 60’s through it’s leaders demise into the world of drugs and paranoia was Sly and the family Stone. A band that featured two wonderful drummers in Greg Errico and later, Andy Newmark. The catalogue was recently reissued so is available for anyone to check out.

Of course it is impossible to not mention Parliament and P funk in a post such as this. The music and groove speaks for itself.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_LRYezOfeo

With Dennis Chambers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DMKkLyHbSc


Maceo Parker, James Brown’s famous saxophonist has released many great funk albums. Here he is with Dennis Chambers on drums.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mmyx...eature=related

We cannot ignore Rufus and Chaka Khan!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWcAUxIgXxc

In a more disco mood.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTg27...eature=related

Another great female vocalist is the ultra funky Betty Davis, ex wife of Miles. As far as I am aware Greg Errico played on her sessions with Sly’s band.

Funk! Betty Davis.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHgq1NPxlp8

Miles Davis also released some very funky recording. Often these recordings were slated in the press by those who failed to understand a musician must grow and change. On the corner in particular received many bad reviews, but has held up well over time.


So I have mentioned some obvious bands and drummers so far, less known bands to check out include Dyke and the Blazers, The Isley Brothers, The Brothers Johnston, Kool and the gang etc etc.

I could go on and on. Hopefully the above will help those who wish to delve into this wide ranging style of music. There are a few great texts out there to learn funk drumming, both its techniques and history. A history book I recommend is Funk, The Music, the People, and the Rhythm of The One" written by Rickey Vincent.

Drumming books I recommend are:
Future Sounds
The Funky Drummer
The Code of Funk
Authored by David Garibaldi.

Funk Drumming
Mike Clark.

Advanced Funk Drumming
Complete Funk Drumming Book
Jim Payne

Advanced Funk Studies
Rick Latham.

Groove Alchemy
Stanton Moore.

I am sorry not to have the time to write in more detail. I hope what is here can help get you started. If anyone would care to add to this please do so. My time is scares and I wish I could have written more. I did not even get to mention Gadd!
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  #2  
Old 03-28-2011, 06:32 AM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

Looks like a lot of great info!
It's late now, but I'll check it all out tomorrow.
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Old 03-28-2011, 08:32 AM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

Cheers Wy, I'm only part way through your post, & already feeling inspired. I'll check back later & dig some more. Got to love a music genre that has a guy with star shades & bass playing in front of a guitarist in diapers!
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Old 03-28-2011, 12:02 PM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

But can you define funk in terms of what's played.

What makes a bar of funk groove different from pop for example. Is it the accents the non-linear nature, the syncopation etc? I could listen to many samples and for sure enjoy them - but what makes a bar of groove; funk?

I genuinely want to know.

Davo
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Old 03-28-2011, 12:25 PM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

Wy's way more qualified than me on this, but I'd say one defining feature is a heavy pulse on the 1 with the band responding on the 2 (usually brass) in a 4 bar.
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Old 03-28-2011, 12:44 PM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Davo-London View Post
But can you define funk in terms of what's played.

What makes a bar of funk groove different from pop for example. Is it the accents the non-linear nature, the syncopation etc? I could listen to many samples and for sure enjoy them - but what makes a bar of groove; funk?

I genuinely want to know.

Davo
Such a great question I refused to answer it above. I had to call into a cafe and paid $8 to post that tiny amount of info'. What is funk? I only have a basic idea. I had the opportunity to meet Arron Spears today but I was rehearsing with an orchestra so could not make it. Perhaps he has the answer? I do not.

I did plan a better post on the subject but time and money got in the way. I am answering on my phone and with the contract I have this answer costs me dear. I wish I could ofer more right now.
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Old 03-28-2011, 03:49 PM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wy yung View Post
I am sorry not to have the time to write in more detail. I hope what is here can help get you started.
yea you're right....it's such a tiny little small post. with so little information or history...i hope all of us who are soaking this up like sponges, completely free of charge...will forgive you for that!

seriously tho: eye to eye, you know what i'm sayin... station to station...this post truly Rocks the Nation!!!! thanks dude!!
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Old 03-28-2011, 04:26 PM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

Funk is the thing that drives my playing and the musical context that I perform in the most. Everything I play revolves entirely around a central groove. I've studied several of these sources and listened to all of these recordings -- lots of great info here Wy! Good Stuff! People could definitely learn a lot here about one of the greatest musical genres.

Last edited by Fishbones; 03-28-2011 at 04:36 PM.
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Old 03-28-2011, 06:13 PM
Zeus Mutation Zeus Mutation is offline
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

wy young.... you must have been reading my mind to post this, Thanks!!
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:34 PM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

The biggest issue with funk drumming right now is the attitude of many drummers to inflict it on styles in which it doesn't belong. Metal - turn it into Funk. Rock - turn it into Funk. Country turn into Funk. With the ability comes the responsibility to use that ability with discretion and ignore the ego which says "I must prove how great I am to everyone in the room and get all of the attention" when most people don't care anyway.

Good post Wy.

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Old 03-28-2011, 07:36 PM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skitch View Post
The biggest issue with funk drumming right now is the attitude of many drummers to inflict it on styles in which it doesn't belong. Metal - turn it into Funk. Rock - turn it into Funk. Country turn into Funk. With the ability comes the responsibility to use that ability with discretion and ignore the ego which says "I must prove how great I am to everyone in the room and get all of the attention" when most people don't care anyway.


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Hmm... examples?
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Old 03-28-2011, 10:01 PM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rT7dksHQnY

A funked out jazz tune? Jazz transformed into funk? Jazz/Funk? Or just too much Quincy Jones influence on a couple of Funk guys? ;--}
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Old 03-29-2011, 04:46 AM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

I once heard Bill Champlain say that "James Brown taught us that the one is an EVENT". His emphasis on the "event".

Add to your list.

Gaylord Birch. Listen to early Cold Blood, in particular Baby I Love You off the Thriller album (long before the Jackson 5 much less Michael's Temperton covers) They syncopation between the bass line and guitar is insane, and Gaylord ties it all together.

The other thing about funk is the displacement between the 2 and 4. The late 4 defining that in the pocket feel balanced out by a driving ahead of the beat 2.

While a lot of people think of funk playing as having a really swinging ride pattern, there are folks that bring the funk with a really steady but advanced ride pattern over the top of a more swung kick/snare pattern. Steve Jordan and Alan Evans are masters of this. Here's an example of what I'm talking about from when I discovered what they are doing.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wc86nf4eMM8
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Old 03-29-2011, 05:21 AM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

Wow. That's alot of information right there, Wy. Good job on presenting, lots of stuff to learn. I tend to believe that it's the music around the drums that defines what funk is. It could be a simple bass drum on 1 & 3, snare on 2 & 4, and 8th note hi-hats, yet when mixed correctly with the other instruments, it becomes funky. How deep down and greasy it gets depends on who's playing!

I saw the movie "Stand in the Shadows of Motown" and they interviewed James Jamerson Jr. (son of the great Jamerson) and he said his father would see a large lady walk down the street and watch her butt swing side to side, and that helped him create some of the funkiest bass parts we've ever heard. I've also found Zoro's DVD "The Commandments of R&B and Funk Drumming" to be a great resource, because he takes you through the history as well, with great playing examples, I would definitely recommend people getting into that DVD (I like it so much I never loan mine out). And, he's a helluva nice guy!
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Old 03-29-2011, 09:08 AM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishbones View Post
Hmm... examples?
Go down on Broadway in Nashville - you can hear it at some of the bars but most of these guys don't last long. Along with the guy who decided he was going to metal-up country. Oh wait....he's isn't there any longer. Nobody hires him now because of his turning "Folsom Prison Blues" into a speed metal song. And this doesn't mean that Nashville is intolerant; Nashville has a thriving Metal scene, Funk scene and Latin scene. On Broadway though, it's a tourist trap with the bar patrons expecting certain songs, not never ending "look at me" drum solos with band accompaniment.

And it happens in some cover bands who happen to be playing 80s new wave with a drummer turning every song into an exercise of "Hip Hop R&B drumming chops show 'n' tell" in a city in which I used to live.


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Old 03-29-2011, 09:11 AM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo Eder View Post
I saw the movie "Stand in the Shadows of Motown" and they interviewed James Jamerson Jr. (son of the great Jamerson) and he said his father would see a large lady walk down the street and watch her butt swing side to side, and that helped him create some of the funkiest bass parts we've ever heard. I've also found Zoro's DVD "The Commandments of R&B and Funk Drumming" to be a great resource, because he takes you through the history as well, with great playing examples, I would definitely recommend people getting into that DVD (I like it so much I never loan mine out). And, he's a helluva nice guy!
Both great examples. I always think of a a shuffle as a very proud lady wearing a hat. I did a lesson with Zoro and bought his book in early 2003. It now seems timely; two months later, I was playing for the Platters, the Coasters and the Drifters.

Mike

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Old 03-29-2011, 09:26 AM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

Great one-stop resource page, Wy!

Even though I familiar with all the examples, its great to see it presented in context. Purdie, Clark and Garibaldi are big influences and this post prompts me to 'loft funk' a little...


....
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Old 03-29-2011, 11:51 AM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

I am glad some of you like it. I am sorry I ran out of time. I will add more in a couple of days, different styles such as Brit pop funk, samba funk etc etc. Am on my Blackberry now so it is impossible to do it. I will also try to write out some pages and scan them in with various lesson ideas. I only play for one hour this Thursday so will do it afterwards.

Cheers. Wy
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Old 03-29-2011, 12:35 PM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

Wy, I have looked at all the links and tentatively draw the conclusion that it's mostly in the LH snare ghosts and accents and the way the 1 is emphasised (sometimes) or maybe felt. The Garibaldi groove was wonderful but a lot of the drumming I couldn't really relate to at all in terms of defining a style.

I know that some of the hihat playing is also non-linear or non-ostinato as well. But in terms of nailing what makes funk funk - I'm still searching.

Davo
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Old 03-29-2011, 01:48 PM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

Well there are many different types of funk. If we speak of probably the most common style, American funk in the style of James Brown or perhaps Prince and P Funk, think smooth and swung. A lilt played on the hi hat can help a groove swing. Check out Groovus Interuptus, on Dennis Chambers' solo LP Outbreak. No ghost notes, mainly 1 and 3 on the kick and 2 and 4 on the snare, but it swings like crazy. If you listen to drummers like Jabo Starks and. Purdie you will hear a strong swing feel.

Garibaldi on the other hand is a drummer playing a funk groove in the "slick" category. Very smooth and somewhat straight with a heavy emphasis on interplay between the hats, ghosts and back beats based in a 16th note feel. Of course Garibaldi play a wonderful swing feel when he plays any shuffle.

Then there is the drumming of someone like Phil Gould. More pop oriented then Garibaldi but also very smooth but with less snare hats interplay and the sixteenths emphasised more on the hats.

Then there are even more outrageous styles such as the funk within the Brazilian style Axe. I think it all comes down to becoming more familiar with the style through listening.

I will explain in detail next thursday.

Adendum: I do believe the ability to swing is necessary to play an authentic funk groove. An understanding of clave is also a big help but not as important as the ability to play and imply swing.
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Old 03-29-2011, 04:13 PM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skitch View Post
Go down on Broadway in Nashville - you can hear it at some of the bars but most of these guys don't last long. Along with the guy who decided he was going to metal-up country. Oh wait....he's isn't there any longer. Nobody hires him now because of his turning "Folsom Prison Blues" into a speed metal song. And this doesn't mean that Nashville is intolerant; Nashville has a thriving Metal scene, Funk scene and Latin scene. On Broadway though, it's a tourist trap with the bar patrons expecting certain songs, not never ending "look at me" drum solos with band accompaniment.

And it happens in some cover bands who happen to be playing 80s new wave with a drummer turning every song into an exercise of "Hip Hop R&B drumming chops show 'n' tell" in a city in which I used to live.


Mike

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Fair enough... never witnessed this. But I believe it. However, some of that could be fairly interesting...
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Old 03-29-2011, 09:37 PM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

There was Cowboy Funk, too lol:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8zlDi2BkWg

This used to be a favorite closer at an (Native American) Indian Bar I used to go to in Oklahoma City. Indians line dancing to a funk song played by Black Cowboys. Can the world get any crazier?
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Old 03-31-2011, 09:08 AM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

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There was Cowboy Funk, too lol:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8zlDi2BkWg

This used to be a favorite closer at an (Native American) Indian Bar I used to go to in Oklahoma City. Indians line dancing to a funk song played by Black Cowboys. Can the world get any crazier?
ooohhhh yeah!

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Old 03-31-2011, 03:13 PM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

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Originally Posted by Skitch View Post
ooohhhh yeah!

Mike
LOL - Funkin on the Prairies in their OSU orange. Here they are in OU Crimson and Cream:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UypjO3TxbcA

I thnk the dominating ryhthm patterns of most funk music from this era seems to come from the bass. The drummers, at least the ones with the legendary bassists, seem to lay down straight, simple patterns, so the bass player can weave all around it with really syncopated grooves. Some bands, like Broolklyn Bronx and Queens can really weave together some cool polyrhythms, but that drum just stays steady throughout.:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbTDni_WO0U&NR=1

Last edited by Strangelove; 03-31-2011 at 03:46 PM.
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Old 04-18-2011, 09:47 PM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

Thanks for the great post Wy.

Very informative and useful for a newcomer like me!
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Old 04-19-2011, 12:09 AM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

Mitch Mitchell gives up the funk.

Jimi Hendrix - South Saturn Delta
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0Pce...eature=related
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Old 04-19-2011, 12:08 PM
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

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Mitch Mitchell gives up the funk.

Jimi Hendrix - South Saturn Delta
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0Pce...eature=related
That was my favorite song when I was 7 years old lol! Gotta thank my dad for turning me onto this stuff early on.
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  #28  
Old 04-19-2011, 12:21 PM
wy yung
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Default Re: Introduction to funk drumming.

Very sorry not to have added to this thread. I have written out some lessons and will post them as soon as I find a cyber cafe that will allow me to scan them in and post them.

I hope to rectify this very soon. I've just been so busy playing.

Thanks for your patience.
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