Introduction To New Orleans Blues & Funk
In this lesson we will introduce the music of New Orleans and explore some core pillars that make the piano playing and the piano players from this city so hip, funky, and distinct from everywhere else.
In a New Orleans context, the piano is a percussion instrument. When we play as part of a rhythm section in a New Orleans band – especially if we are playing Rhythm N Blues or Funk, then we are tied in with the bass and the drums.
The ‘Big Four’
The ‘Big Four’ is when we anticipate the 1st beat of the bar by playing it on the 4 or the 4& of the previous bar. This is an important aspect of Funk which we explore later in this course.
The ‘funkiness’ is where we place an emphasis on some of the weaker beats turning them into strong beats. This is something that is very appealing to people who want to dance to the music. In New Orleans all music is dance music.
The rhythm of New Orleans music is tied in historically with the other great Creole cities of the Caribbean such as Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Jamaica, and Haiti. In all of these places rhythm is very important due to the influences from Africa.
We explore how these rhythms have influenced the music of New Orleans.
The Brass Band Interplay
There is a tradition in New Orleans of music being played in the street by brass bands. The piano is a great instrument to imitate the interplay between the tuba and the snare drums and this is often found in New Orleans piano styles.
New Orleans Funk
New Orleans Funk is something that is very popular, but also very hard to define.
The piano is a great Funk device because it can be used to create all of the elements we have discussed in this lesson; the bass, the rhythm, and the harmony.
In this lesson we touch upon some of the nuances of Funk music and later in this course we explore the style in more detail.
‘The Big 4’ Demonstration Notation File Type: pdf
Tuba Bass Lines & ‘The Big Four’ File Type: pdf
Funk Piano Voicing Techniques File Type: pdf