House music is a style of electronic dance music initially popularized in mid-1980s discothèques catering to the African-American, Latino, and gay communities, first in Chicago, then in New York, Detroit, and eventually Europe before becoming infused in mainstream pop & dance music worldwide.
House music is strongly influenced by elements of soul- and funk-infused varieties of disco. House music generally mimics disco's percussion, especially the use of a prominent bass drum on every beat, but may feature a prominent synthesizer bassline, electronic drums, electronic effects, funk and pop samples, and reverb- or delay-enhanced vocals.
The common element of house music is a prominent kick drum on every beat (also known as a four-to-the-floor beat), usually generated by a drum machine or sampler. The kick drum sound is augmented by various kick fills and extended dropouts. The drum track is filled out with hi-hat cymbal patterns that nearly always include an open hi-hat on eighth note off-beats between each kick, and a snare drum or clap sound on beats two and four of every bar. This pattern is derived from so-called "four-on-the-floor" dance drumbeats of the 1960s and especially the 1970s disco drummers. Producers commonly layer sampled drum sounds to achieve a more complex sound, and they tailor the mix for large club sound systems, de-emphasizing lower mid-range frequencies (where the fundamental frequencies of the human voice and other instruments lie) in favor of bass and hi-hats.
Producers use many different sound sources for bass sounds in house music, from continuous, repeating electronically-generated lines sequenced on a synthesizer, such as a Roland SH-101 or TB-303, to studio recordings or samples of live electric bassists, or simply filtered-down samples from whole stereo recordings of classic funk tracks or any other songs. House bass lines tend to favor notes that fall within a single-octave range, whereas disco bass lines often alternated between octave-separated notes and would span greater ranges. Some early house productions used parts of bass lines from earlier disco tracks. For example, producer Mark "Hot Rod" Trollan copied bass line sections from the 1983 Italo disco song "Feels Good (Carrots & Beets)" (by Electra featuring Tara Butler) to form the basis of his 1986 production of "Your Love" by Jamie Principle. Frankie Knuckles used the same notes in his more famous 1987 version of "Your Love", which also featured Principle on vocals.
Electronically-generated sounds and samples of recordings from genres such as jazz, blues and synth pop are often added to the foundation of the drum beat and synth bass line. House songs may also include disco, soul-style, or gospel vocals and additional percussion such as tambourine.
Techno and trance, which developed alongside house music, share this basic beat infrastructure, but they usually eschew house's live-music-influenced feel and Black or Latin music influences in favor of more synthetic sound sources and approach.
House music is the descendant of the 1970s dance style of disco, which blended soul, R&B, funk, salsa, rock and pop with a progressive, pro-diversity message. In the late 1970s, disco songs began incorporating electronic sounds, such as Giorgio Moroder's landmark production of Donna Summer's hit single "I Feel Love" from 1977. In the same year, Kraftwerk's album Trans-Europe Express began being played in New York discos; this album contains a number of the elements and samples that later appeared in techno and drum and bass.
In the early 1980's, DJs in Chicago first started to experiment with house music by mixing double copies of disco music together at the same time. By using this double copy technique, DJs could repeat verses, skip bridges and extend choruses, making essentially a remix of the original disco track. This double-copy remixing eventually led to producers creating their own beats for djs to spin, as opposed to remixing old disco tracks.
In 1984, Lime released an album with a style dubbed "HiNRG", which moulded the late 1970s sounds of Giorgio Moroder and Kraftwerk into a catchy club style with beatbox programming and breakdown sections. M and M's club mixes and Jesse Saunders - "On and On" (1984/1985) had many elements of electronic dance music that developed into the house music sound, such as synths (including the 303) and minimal vocals. "On and On" was the first recognised house release to be pressed and sold to the general public and often cited as the 'first house music record', although other examples from the same time period, such as J.M. Silk's "Music is the Key" (1985) have also been cited. House music also incorporated other influences, such as New Wave, Reggae, European synthpop, industrial and punk as well as the emerging hip hop style. House music DJs experimented with new editing techniques and electronic instruments, such as remixing, sampling, synthesizers, and sequencers.
Chip E.'s recording "It's House" may also have helped to define this new form of electronic music. Chip E. claims the name came from methods of labelling records at the Imports Etc. record store, where he worked in the early 1980s; music that DJ Knuckles played at the Warehouse nightclub was labelled in the store "As Heard At The Warehouse", which was shortened to simply "House music".
Larry Heard, aka "Mr. Fingers", claims that the term "house" reflected the fact that many early DJs created music in their own homes, using synthesizers and drum machines, including the Roland TR-808, TR-909, and the TB 303 Bassline synthesizer-sequencer. These synthesizers were used to create a house music subgenre called acid house.
Juan Atkins, an originator of Detroit techno music, claims the term "house" reflected the exclusive association of particular tracks with particular DJs; those tracks were their "house" records (much like a restaurant might have a "house" salad dressing).
Main stream record stores often did not carry these 12 inch vinyl singles, as they were not available through the major record distributors. In Chicago, records stores such as Importes Etc., State Street Records, JR’s Music shop and Gramaphone Records were the primary suppliers of this music. The record-store Importes Etc, is believed to be where the term “house” was introduced as a shortening of "Warehouse".
The music was still essentially disco until the early 1980s when the first stand-alone drum machines were invented. House tracks could now be given an edge with the use of a mixer and drum machine. This was an added boost to the prestige of the individual DJs. Underground club DJs like Ron Hardy and radio jocks The Hot Mix 5 played Italo Disco tracks like "Dirty Talk" and the "MBO Theme" by Klein M.B.O., Early B-Boy Hip Hop tracks such as Man Parrish's "Hip Hop, Be Bop (Don't Stop)" and Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force's Planet Rock and Looking for the Perfect Beat as well as electronic music by Kraftwerk; these genres were influential to the Chicago genre of House.
Jesse Saunders “Jes Say Records” who had club hits with more “B-boy Hip Hop” oriented tracks like “Come to Me” by Gwendolyn and “Dum Dum” as well as the Italo Disco influenced “Under Cover” by Dr. Derelict released the first Chicago home made house hit, “On and On” (1984) which had hypnotic lyrics, driving bassline, and percussion. This was the first house record pressed and sold to the general public.
In 1985, Mr Fingers's landmark "Can You Feel It?"/"Washing Machine"/"Mystery of Love" showed a jazz-influenced, lush, sound that was created using a Roland TR-707 and Juno 6 synthesizer. This song helped to start the trend for the Deep house genre, which had a slower beat of 110-125 bpm. In the same year, Chip E.'s "It's House" is a good example of the Chicago House Music style. In 1986, Phuture's "Acid Trax" (1986) showed the development of a house music subgenre called acid house which arose from experiments with a 303 machine by Chicago musicians such as DJ Pierre.
Early house recordings were Jamie Principle and Frankie Knuckles' "Your Love"; "On and On" by Jesse Saunders (1985) and Chip E.'s "The Jack Trax" featuring the songs “It’s House” and “Time to Jack”, which used complex rhythms, simple bassline, sampling technology, and minimalist vocals. By 1985, house music dominated the clubs of Chicago, largely in part due to the radio play the music received on 102.7 FM WBMX which was the brainchild of Program director Lee Michaels through WBMX's resident DJ team, the Hot Mix 5.
The music and movement was also aided by the electronic music revolution - the arrival of cheap and compact music sequencers, drum machines (the Roland TR-909, TR-808 and TR-707, and Latin percussion machine the TR-727) and bass modules (such as the Roland TB-303) gave House music creators even wider possibilities in creating their own sound. The acid house subgenre was developed from the experiments by DJ Pierre, Larry Heard (Mr. Fingers), and Marshall Jefferson with the new drum and rhythm machines.
Many of the songs that defined the Chicago house music sound were released by DJ International Records and Trax Records. In 1985, Trax released "Jack the Bass" and "Funkin' with the Drums Again" by Farley Jackmaster Funk. In 1986, Trax released "No Way Back" by Adonis, Larry Heard's (as Fingers Inc.) "Can You Feel It?" and "Washing Machine", and an early house anthem in 1986, "Move Your Body" by Marshall Jefferson, which helped to boost the popularity of the style outside of Chicago.
In 1987, Steve 'Silk' Hurley's "Jack Your Body" was the first House track to reach No.1 in the UK Top 40 pop chart. 1987 also saw M/A/R/R/S' "Pump Up The Volume" reach No.1 in the UK Top 40 pop chart. In 1989 Hurley transformed Roberta Flack's soft ballad "Uh Oh Look Out" into a boisterous dance track. S'Express's "Theme from S'Express" (1988)is an example of a disco-influenced, funky acid house tune. It uses samples from Rose Royce's song "Is it Love You're After" over a Roland 303 bassline. In 1989, Black Box - "Ride on time" (which sampled Loleatta Holloway's 1980 disco hit, Love Sensation) hit number 1 in the UK top 40 and Technotronic's song "Pump Up the Jam" (1989) was one of the early house records to break the top 10 on the US pop charts. A year later, Madonna's "Vogue" went to number one on charts worldwide, becoming the highest selling single on WEA up to that time. In 1992, Leftfield's song "Release the Pressure" helped to introduce a new subgenre of house called progressive house.
House music also had an influence of relaying political messages to people who were considered to be outcast of society. It offered for those who didn't fit into mainstream American society, especially celebrated by many black gays. Frankie Knuckles made a good comparison of House saying it was like "church for people who have fallen from grace" and Marshall Jefferson compared it to "old-time religion in the way that people just get happy and screamin'" (30). Deep house was similar to many of the messages of freedom for the black community. Both House CDs by Joe Smooth, "Promised Land" and Db "I Have a Dream" give similar messages of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. House was also very sexual and had much mystic in it. It went so far as to have a "eroto-mystic delirium" (31). Jamie Principle's "Baby Wants to Ride" begins in a prayer but surprisingly is about a dominatrix who seduces a man to "ride" her through the rest of the song. House dance itself is a lot older than house music, which arose in the late 1970s upon the end of the disco era during the times of such nightclubs as Chicago's Warehouse and New York's Loft and Paradise Garage. House dance takes from many different dance elements such as the Lindy era, African, Latin, Brazilian, jazz, tap, and even modern.
House dance has been debatingly broken down in 3 styles: Footwork, Jacking, and Lofting. It includes a variety of techniques and sub-styles that include skating, stomping, and shuffling. It also incorporates movements from many other sources such as whacking, voguing, Capoeira, tap, and Latin dances such as salsa. A wide variety of the movements came from jazz and bebop styles and even from African and Latin descent.
One of the primary elements in house dancing is a technique that came from Chicago that involves moving the torso forward and backward in a rippling motion, as if a wave were passing through it. When this movement is repeated and sped up to match the beat of a song it is called jacking, or "the jack." All footwork in house dancing is said to initiate from the way the jack moves the center of gravity through space
House music especially Deep House was a jarring kind of genre in music which brought the immoral and different aspect of the sexual and minority in the forefront. House was definitely concerned with the sensuality of the body and setting oneself free-- without the worry of outside barriers.
See also Techno
Detroit techno was developed in the mid 1980s. Though Detroit techno is a distinct musical form, its pioneers were also instrumental in spreading house music internationally. Detroit techno developed as the legendary disc jockey The Electrifying Mojo conducted his own radio program at this time, influencing the fusion of eclectic sounds into the signature Detroit techno sound. This sound, heavily influenced by European Electronica (Kraftwerk, Art of Noise), early B-boy Hip-Hop (Man Parrish, Soul Sonic Force) and Italo Disco (Doctor's Cat, Ris, Klein M.B.O.), was further pioneered by Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson the "godfathers" of Detroit Techno.
Juan Atkins released "NO UFO's" on Metroplex Records, which was very well received in Chicago and is considered a classic. He followed with the 1986 release of the track "Technicolor".
Derrick May aka "MAYDAY" released "Nude Photo" in 1986 on his label "Transmat Records", which helped kickstart the Detroit techno music scene and was put in heavy rotation on Chicago's Hot Mix 5 Radio dj mix show and in many Chicago clubs. A year later releasing what was to become one of techno's classic anthems, the seminal track "Strings of Life", "Transmat Records" went on to have many more successful releases such as 1988's "Wiggin". As well, Derrick May had successful releases on Kool Kat Records and many remixes for a host of underground and mainstream recording artist.
Kevin Saunderson's company KMS Records contributed many releases that were as much House Music as they were Techno, these tracks were well received in Chicago and played on Chicago radio and in clubs. Blake Baxter's 1986 recording, "When we Used to Play / Work your Body", 1987's "Bounce Your Body to the Box" and "Force Field", "The Sound / How to Play our Music" and “the Groove that Won't Stop” and a remix of "Grooving Without a Doubt". In 1988, as house music became more popular among general audiences, Kevin Saunderson’s group Inner City with Paris Gray released the 1988 hits "Big Fun" and "Good Life", which eventually were picked up by Virgin Records. Each EP / 12 inch single sported remixes by Mike "Hitman" Wilson and Steve "Silk" Hurley of Chicago and Derrick "Mayday" May and Juan Atkins of Detroit. In 1989, KMS had another hit release of "Rock to the Beat" which was a theme in Chicago dance clubs.
Until 1986 the club was financially troubled; the crowds only started to grow when the resident DJs (Pickering, Park and Da Silva) started to play house music. Many underground venues and DJ nights also took place across the UK, such as the private parties hosted by an early Miss Moneypenny's contingent in Birmingham and many London venues. House was boosted in the UK by the tour in the same year of Knuckles, Jefferson, Fingers Inc. (Heard) and Adonis as the DJ International Tour. One of the early anthemic tunes, "Promised Land" by Joe Smooth, was covered and charted within a week by the Style Council. The first English House tune came out in 1986 - "Carino" by T-Coy. Europeans embraced house music, and began booking legendary American House DJs to play at the big clubs, such as Ministry of Sound, whose resident, DJ Harvey brought in Larry Levan.
The house scene in cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and London were also provided with many underground Pirate Radio stations and DJs alike which helped bolster an already contagious, but otherwise ignored by the mainstream, music genre. One of the earliest and most influential UK house and techno record labels was Network Records (otherwise known as Kool Kat records) who helped introduce Italian and US dance music to Britain as well as promoting select UK dance music acts.
But house was also developing on Ibiza. In the 1970s Ibiza was a hippie stop-over for the rich party crowd. By the mid-1980s a distinct Balearic mix of house was discernible. Several clubs like Amnesia with DJ Alfredo were playing a mix of rock, pop, disco and house. These clubs, fueled by their distinctive sound and Ecstasy, began to have an influence on the British scene. By late 1987 DJs like Paul Oakenfold and Danny Rampling were bringing the Ibiza sound to UK clubs like Shoom in Southwark (London), Heaven, Future, Spectrum and Purple Raines in Birmingham.
In the US, the music was being developed to create a more sophisticated sound, moving beyond just drum loops and short samples. New York-based performers such as Mateo & Matos and Blaze had slickly produced disco-house crossover tracks. In Chicago, Marshall Jefferson had formed the house group Ten City (from "intensity"). In Detroit a proto-techno music sound began to emerge with the recordings of Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson.
Atkins, a former member of Cybotron, released Model 500 "No UFOs" in 1985, which became a regional hit, followed by dozens of tracks on Transmat, Metroplex and Fragile. One of the most unusual was "Strings of Life" by Derrick May, a darker, more intellectual strain of house. "Techno-Scratch" was released by the Knights Of The Turntable in 1984 which had a similar techno sound to Cybotron. The manager of the Factory nightclub, Tony Wilson, also promoted acid house culture on his weekly TV show. The Midlands also embraced the late 1980s House scene with underground venues such as multi storey car parks and more legal dance stations such as the Digbeth Institute (now the 'Sanctuary' and home to Sundissential).
Other influences from New York came from the hip-hop, reggae, and Latin community, and many of the New York City super producers/DJs began surfacing for the first time (Erick Morillo, Roger Sanchez, Junior Vasquez, Danny Tenaglia, Jonathan Peters) with unique sounds that would evolve into other genres (tribal house, progressive house, funky house). Producers such as Masters At Work and Kerri Chandler also started pioneering a richer Garage sound that was picked up on by 'outsiders' from the worlds of jazz, hip-hop and downbeat as much as it was by House aficionados.
In the late 80's Nu Groove Records prolonged, if not launched the careers of Rheji Burrell & Rhano Burrell, collectively known as Burrell (after a brief stay on Virgin America via Timmy Registford and Frank Mendez), along with basically every relevant DJ and Producer in the NY underground scene. The Burrell's are responsible for the "New York Underground" sound and are the undisputed champions of this style of house music. Their 30+ releases on this label alone seems to support that fact. In today's market Nu Groove Record releases like the Burrells' enjoy a cult-like following and mint vinyl can fetch $100 US or more in the open market.
Influential gospel/R&B-influenced Aly-us released "Time Passes On" in 1993 (Strictly Rhythm), then later, "Follow Me" which received radio airplay as well as being played in clubs. Another US hit which received radio play was the single "Time for the Perculator" by Cajmere, which became the prototype of Ghettohouse sub-genre. Cajmere started the Cajual and Relief labels (amongst others). By the early 1990s artists such as Cajmere himself (under that name as well as Green Velvet and as producer for Dajae), DJ Sneak, Glenn Underground and others did many recordings. Artists from the also recently-revitalised Dance Mania such as DJ Rush, Robert Armani and his cousin Paul Johnson recorded for both and did DJing in the European club circuit. Derrick Carter was active as a producer and DJ during this period.
Detroit's labels included 430 West, KMS and Serious Grooves with producers such as Kevin Saunderson, Marc Kinchen, Octave One. Underground Resistance produced garage tracks and electro tracks. A Los Angeles-area scene developed with parties organised by Hardkiss and UK expatriates like DIY and Charles Webster.
At the same time, a new indie dance scene emerged, with groups such as Happy Mondays, The Shamen, New Order, Meat Beat Manifesto, Renegade Soundwave, EMF, The Grid and The Beloved. In New York, bands such as Deee-Lite furthered house music's international influence. Two distinctive tracks from this era were the Orb's "Little Fluffy Clouds" (with a distinctive vocal sample from Rickie Lee Jones) and the Happy Mondays' "Wrote for Luck" ("WFL") which was transformed into a dance hit by Paul Oakenfold.
The UK Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 was a government attempt to ban large rave dance events featuring music with "repetitive beats". There were a number of abortive "Kill the Bill" demonstrations. Although the bill became law, in November 1994, it had little effect. The music continued to grow and change, as typified by the emergence of acts like Leftfield with "Release the Pressure", which introduced dub and reggae into the house music sound. In more commercial recordings, a mix of R&B with stronger basslines was used. The house music scene was shaped by a variety of inflences, including the club culture scene. Like the 1970s disco club scene, the house music club scene was associated with a number of drugs which club-goers used to enhance the dancing experience, such as amyl nitrite "poppers", MDMA, ketamine, and GHB.
As well, like the disco scene that preceded it, the house music club scene attracted a mix of cultural and racial groups. Tunes like "The Bouncer" from Kicks Like a Mule used sped-up hip-hop breakbeats. With SL2's "On A Ragga Tip" they gave the foundations to what would become drum and bass and jungle. Initially called breakbeat hardcore, it found popularity in London clubs like Rage as an "inner city" music. Labels like Moving Shadow and Reinforced became underground favorites.
"London Hardcore Techno" was a style of music that Moonshine music released with an increased tempo of around 160 bpm. UK garage developed later. Originally an underground style combining house beats with pitched up RnB vocals and the ragga MCing and warping bass of jungle, it broke into the mainstream via artists like The Artful Dodger and 187 Lockdown, and influenced pop acts like Liberty X and Victoria Beckham. The 4 Hero subgenre adopted soul and jazz influences, and some used a full orchestral section to create a more "sophisticated" sound. Later, this led directly to the West London scene known as Broken beat or Breakbeat.
A new generation of clubs like Miss Moneypenny's, Liverpool's Cream (as opposed to the original underground night, C.R.E.A.M.) and the Ministry of Sound were opened to provide a venue for more commercial sounds. Major record companies began to open "superclubs" promoting their own acts. These superclubs entered into sponsorship deals initially with fast food, soft drinks, and clothing companies. Flyers in clubs in Ibiza often sported many corporate logos. A new sub-genre, Chicago Hard House, was developed by DJs such as Bad Boy Bill, DJ Lynnwood, DJ Irene, Richard "Humpty" Vission and DJ Enrie.
As of the late 2000s, house music remains popular in clubs throughout the world.