Funk creates an intense groove by using strong guitar riffs and basslines played on electric bass. Like Motown recordings, funk songs use basslines as the centerpiece of songs. Indeed, funk has been called the style in which the bassline is most prominent in the songs, with the bass playing the “hook” of the song. Early funk basslines used syncopation (typically syncopated eighth notes), but with the addition of more of a “driving feel” than in New Orleans funk. And they used blues scale notes along with the major third above the root. Later funk basslines use sixteenth note syncopation, blues scales, and repetitive patterns, often with leaps of an octave or a larger interval.
Funk basslines emphasize repetitive patterns, locked-in grooves, continuous playing, and slap and popping bass. Slapping and popping uses a mixture of thumb-slapped low notes (also called “thumped”) and finger “popped” (or plucked) high notes, allowing the bass to have a drum-like rhythmic role, which became a distinctive element of funk. Notable slap and funky players include Bernard Edwards (Chic), Robert “Kool” Bell, Mark Adams (Slave), Johnny Flippin (Fatback) and Bootsy Collins. While slap and funky is important, some influential bassists who play funk, such as Rocco Prestia (from Tower of Power), did not use the approach, and instead used a typical fingerstyle method based on James Jamerson’s Motown playing style. Larry Graham from Sly and the Family Stone is an influential bassist.