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Motown and Funk

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Chris McInnes

on 23 January 2018

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Transcript of Motown and Funk

Key Personnel
Berry Gordy
The Motown Sound
KISS - Keep it simple, stupid
Structure - simple, often start with the chorus
Lots of 'sweetening' - strings, horns , orchestral percussion
Focus on vocals
Big hooks and choruses, but some complex melodic/harmonic movement
Complex basslines - James Jamerson
The Motown beat - snare on every crotchet
Lyrics always about love/relationships
Stevie Wonder
Early success with Motown, real work begins when he re-negotiates his contract and gains creative freedom
Lyricist - Dealt with spirituality, politics, addiction
Musician/Producer - Multi-instrumentalist, brought synths into soul. Extensive harmonic complexity.
Singer - just listen to him!
Key works:
Innervisions, Talking Book, Songs In The Key Of Life
Marvin Gaye (1939-1984)
Senior Motown figure, helped tutor younger artists
Major crisis when Tammi Terrell died
Tried to re-negotiate his Motown contract for creative control
Gordy refused to release 'What's Goin On' at first
George Clinton
Bootsy Collins
Large bands - horns, synths, vocals
Importance of bass - slapping, popping
Long tracks -
grooves not songs
Complex syncopation between parts
Funk/Disco Crossover
Early Pioneers
Formed 1959, finally sold in 1988
1960 - 1969 they had 79 top ten hits
Factory approach with Gordy in charge of everything
Unique approach to artist development
Most successful independent label of all time
Little harmonic movement...
Rhythm - 'Hit the one!'
... but chords are often complex
2nd most sampled artist:
Most sampled artist:
1980s -
Afrika Bambaataa
Massive funk influence via sampling
James Brown
Sly & The Family Stone
Earth, Wind & Fire
Adoption of Funk by Soul/R&B Artists
Massed vocal chants
Funk Goes Electro
Full transcript