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Chanking is a guitar performance technique in funk music that involves both "choking" the guitar neck and strumming the strings percussively to create a distinctive-sounding riff commonly associated with the genre.[1] The technique was popularized by the music of James Brown, later spreading to other genres and performers.

The name "chanking" is a portmanteau of the words "choking" and "yanking", referring to the procedure involved in the technique.

Chanking was developed by James Brown band guitarist Jimmy Nolen as a part of his signature "chicken scratch" sound. The technique appeared first in "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," a song that typified much of Brown's subsequent work.[2] "Chicken scratching" itself differs slightly: the fretting hand lightly squeezes the chord on the neck, then releases suddenly to produce a scratch chord.[3] In particular, Brown used chanking against syncopated bass to produce a unique blend of sounds.[1]

The technique of chanking spread from funk to reggae music.[2][4] Alan Warner, then of The Foundations, also utilized the technique, which left its sound legacy in Europop.[4]


  1. ^ a b Appell, Glenn; Hemphill, David (2006). American Popular Music: A Multicultural History. Thomson Wadsworth. p. 320. ISBN 0-15-506229-8. Retrieved 2012-01-17. 
  2. ^ a b The Wire. 173-178. C. Parker. 1998. p. 28. Retrieved 2012-01-17. 
  3. ^ Woods, Tricia; Green, Raleigh (2008). The Versatile Guitarist National Guitar Workshop. Alfred Music Publishing. ISBN 0-7390-4805-8. Retrieved 2012-01-17. 
  4. ^ a b Shapiro, Peter (2006). Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco. Macmillan. pp. 53, 94. ISBN 0-86547-952-6. Retrieved 2012-01-17. 

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