Funk music is a style of dance music that evolved from the Black R\u0026B, soul, and jazz scenes in the mid-1960s. Funk music is characterized by funky, syncopated bass lines and steady, infectious drum grooves, which drove it to become one of the most popular genres in the 1970s and ’80s.\n\nFunk artists like James Brown and George Clinton (the leader of Parliament-Funkadelic) inspired many musicians and helped spawn genres like disco, hip hop, and even funk metal. \n\nFunk music was born in the mid-twentieth century and still influences artists today. Here is a brief history of the musical genre: \n\n- __James Brown coins the funk beat__: In the late 1950s and early 1960s, James Brown developed a signature rhythm—playing “on the one”—which emphasized the first downbeat of the measure, while playing with his band The Famous Flames. \n- __Funk spreads in the late 1960s__: Several dedicated funk bands emerged by the late 1960s, including Sly and the Family Stone (who brought a psychedelic element to the genre) and Parliament Funkadelic’s George Clinton who, in his work with the band, developed a style known as P-Funk, which mixed psychedelia and Afro-centric messaging.\n- __Funk heyday in the 1970s and 1980s__: Funk rose to peak popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. Chaka Khan emerged as the “Queen of Funk” with her band Rufus. Rick James released the funk hit “Super Freak.” Michael Jackson released the hit record Thriller in 1982, which included the funk-inspired hit single “Billie Jean.” Numerous musical groups embraced elements of funk, like strong downbeats and bass-centric grooves. Such artists included jazz musicians ([Herbie Hancock](https://www.masterclass.com/classes/herbie-hancock-teaches-jazz), Miles Davis), Motown (Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson), and R\u0026B (The Meters, The Isley Brothers, Kool and the Gang). \n- __Funk influencing hip hop__: Funk became a key musical influence on hip hop. The funk group Cameo has performed with hip hop stars Outkast, whose own co-founder Andre 3000 has long shown an interest in psychedelic funk. Famed producer Dr. Dre pioneered the G-Funk style that combines funk grooves with gangsta rap.\n\nBoth as a standalone genre and as an influence on other styles, the funk genre contains several identifying traits.\n\n1. __Syncopation__: The syncopation of funk music—particularly in its guitar and bass lines—helps to make it easy to dance to. Songs like "Sex Machine," "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," and "Super Freak," rely on syncopated rhythm guitar to establish a groove.\n2. __Strong downbeats, followed by 16th note grooves__: Funk pioneer James Brown was famous for directing his band to play "on the one," which meant he wanted strong downbeat accents. These downbeats were followed by funky 16th note riffs that filled out the measure.\n3. __Seventh chord variants__: Funk music relies on densely voiced chords, particularly 7th chords and variants such as major and minor 9th chords and 13th chords. Often these chords are sustained for multiple measures as a player locks into a groove.\n4. __Grooves driven by bass guitar__: Some of the most influential funk musicians are bassists, including Bootsy Collins of Parliament-Funkadelic, and Larry Graham of Sly and the Family Stone. \nBecome a better musician with the [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com). Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by the world’s best, including Herbie Hancock, Itzhak Perlman, St. Vincent, Sheila E., Timbaland, Tom Morello, and more.\n\nFunk music is a popular musical genre that draws influence from R\u0026B, jazz, gospel, and blues.