It's the late 1960s, and the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, is taking questions from the press. A dowdy white journalist stands up and in all seriousness asks him, "What exactly is 'the groove'?"

It's one of the more amusing moments in the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," but the fact that we snicker shows exactly the contribution Brown has made to modern music. Everybody knows what "the groove" is now: that sort of monstrously effective, repetitive riff that's so hypnotic it bypasses the brain and goes straight to the body.

Brown called it funk, but entire genres have arisen from his principles — from Afrobeat and North African pop, to pretty much all contemporary dance and electronic music, never mind hip-hop, where emcees rhyme over looped beats from Brown tracks such as "Cold Sweat" or "Funky Drummer."