The Difference Between Soul Music and Funk

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


There are many genres of music out there, and it can be hard to keep them all straight. Here, we’ll take a look at the difference between two popular genres: soul music and funk.


There are many different types of music out there, and sometimes it can be hard to keep them all straight. What is the difference between soul music and funk, for example?

Here, we will take a look at the two genres of music, compare and contrast them, and hopefully give you a better understanding of the two.

Soul music came out of the African American experience in the United States. It is a genre that combines elements of gospel, R&B, and blues. Funk is a genre of music that developed in the mid-1960s. It is characterized by a strong bass line and often has elements of soul, R&B, and jazz.

One key difference between these two genres is their origin. Soul music has its roots in African American culture, while funk developed out of the musical experiments of African American musicians in the 1960s. Another difference is their sound. Soul music is typically smoother and more emotional, while funk is often more funky and upbeat.

What is Funk Music?

Funk is a music genre that originated in the mid-1960s when African American musicians created a rhythmic, danceable new form of music through a mixture of soul, jazz, and rhythm and blues (R&B). Funk de-emphasizes melody and chord progressions and focuses on a strong, interlocking groove of bass and drums played by a percussion section using various improvised instruments.

Soul music is a genre of African American popular music that led to the development of funk and psychedelic soul. It combines elements of rhythm and blues (R&B), gospel, and often jazz.

What is Soul Music?

Soul music is a genre of black American popular music that led to the development of rhythm and blues and rock and roll. It combines elements of gospel music, blues and jazz. defines soul as, “music that came out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of funky secular testifying.”

What is Funk?
Funk is a musical style that began in the mid-1960s with James Brown’s band. Funk creates a thick, rhythmic groove by using strong bass lines, electric guitars, horns and synthesizers. The lyrics are often sexually suggestive or deal with social issues.

The Difference Between Funk and Soul Music

The easiest way to understand the difference between funk and soul music is to think of funk as a more light-hearted, party-oriented style of music, while soul is more emotional and serious. Both genres developed in the African-American community in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but they quickly diverged in both style and substance.

Whereas soul artists like Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin were influenced by gospel music and sought to create music that was both spiritual and secular, funk artists like James Brown and Sly & the Family Stone were more interested in creating a new sound that was based on groove and rhythm. This difference is reflected in the two genres’ lyrics as well: whereas soul songs often deal with topics like love, heartbreak, and social injustice, funk songs are more likely to be about having a good time.

So, if you’re looking for a party soundtrack, you’re better off with funk; if you want something that will make you feel all the feels, go with soul.


In conclusion, there are several key differences between soul music and funk. Soul music originated in the African-American community and is focused more on emotions and personal expression. Funk, on the other hand, developed from a mix of black and white musical styles and is characterized by its heavy groove and powerful bass lines. While soul music can be seen as a more serious genre, funk is often seen as being more lighthearted and fun. Ultimately, it is up to the listener to decide which style they prefer.

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