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I hope this question isn't too "noob"-ish for you guys (but hey I've gotta start somewhere).

What scales are suitable for funk?

Is there a funk scale, akin to the blues scale?

I'm pretty sure the answer is no, seeing as Google doesn't turn up any useful results for "Funk scale", but what scales are suitable?

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Funk is an evolution/combination of jazz and rock, essentially. It's thus going to be based on the scales used in these two. –  Noldorin Jul 15 '11 at 16:09
I think it is fair to say that it uses the Bootytonic scale, though some musicians are split on whether to get up or get down. –  horatio Jul 15 '11 at 20:29
@horatio - That was amazing... –  5StringRyan Dec 13 '11 at 19:28
@5StringRyan: Hey, the getup/get down debate is serious business (see: theonion.com/articles/… ) –  horatio Dec 13 '11 at 19:30
Major, Mixolydian and Dorian are used, just as they are in rock. –  Wheat Williams Feb 1 at 22:40

5 Answers 5

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Funk doesn't have a scale. Funk gets it's sound by rhythmic intervals with lots of pauses. Like reggae, ska... Thats why sometimes when we hear a riff we say it has a funk feel.So being, any scale will fit funk.

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I get the impression that DimeBagFan may be right with his assertion that there is no such entity as a funk scale but that said it is worth mentioning that most if not all of the funk guitar licks I have ever played/worked out on the guitar tend to just use the minor pentatonic scale

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Dorian is used a fair amount as well, I think. The bassline to Chic's "Good Times" is an example I believe.

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Well, you mention the blues scale which is pretty common.

Akin to that one, adding chromatic notes from the b7, 7, R adds some funk as well as the #9 chord, which the guitar plays in just about every James Brown song ever.

Just like the A blues scale has three notes in a row - D, Eb, E, add a note between G and A, so you get -

A B C D Eb E G Gb A

I left out the F#, but you can add that if you want.

Good ol' pentatonic sure rears its head in a lot of funk - A C D E G

The #9 means you use both C natural AND C# if you are playing a chord (again in A), on bass playing off that half-step gives some interesting sounds.

But as people have pointed out already, it is 2011, you can play anything over anything and make it work if you really want.

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Listen to "the boss" by james brown. I guess it's in G# major and the 4th note of the scale is half step higher (which makes that funky confident feel).

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