It was created by DJs and music producers from Chicago‘s underground club culture in the 1980s, as DJs from the subculture began altering disco dance tracks to give them a more mechanical beat and deeper basslines.
The genre was pioneered by DJs and producers mainly from Chicago and New York such as Frankie Knuckles, Larry Levan, Ron Hardy, Jesse Saunders, Chip E., Steve “Silk” Hurley, Farley “Jackmaster” Funk, Mr. Fingers, Marshall Jefferson, Phuture, and many others.
From its beginnings in the Chicago club and local radio scene, the genre expanded internationally to London, then to other American cities such as New York City and Detroit before becoming a worldwide phenomenon.
It was incorporated by major pop artists including Janet Jackson, Madonna, and Kylie Minogue, but also produced some mainstream hits on its own, such as “French Kiss” by Lil Louis (1989), “Show Me Love” by Robin S. (1992), or “Push the Feeling On” by Nightcrawlers (1992/1995).
Many house producers also did and continue to do remixes for pop artists. Until today, house music has remained popular on radio and in clubs while retaining a foothold on the underground scenes across the globe.
and often, but not necessarily, sung, spoken or sampled vocals. In house, the bass drum is sounded on beats one and three, and the snare drum, claps, or other higher-pitched percussion on beats two and four.
Claps, shakers, snare drum, or hi-hat sounds are used to add syncopation.
One of the signature rhythm riffs, especially in early (Chicago) house, is built on the clave pattern.Congas and bongos may be added for an African sound, or metallic percussion for a Latin feel.
Sometimes, the drum sounds are “saturated” by boosting the gain to create a more aggressive edge.
House music could be produced on “cheap and consumer-friendly electronic equipment” and used sound gear, which made it easier for independent labels and DJs to create tracks.
The electronic drum machines and other gear used by house DJs and producers were formerly considered “too cheap-sounding” by “proper” musicians.
House music producers typically use sampled instruments, rather than bringing in session musicians into a recording studio.
Even though a key element of house production is layering sounds, such as drum machine beats, samples, synth basslines, and so on, the overall “texture…is relatively sparse”.
Some tracks do not have a verse, taking a vocal part from the chorus and repeating the same cycle. House music tracks are often based on eight-bar sections which are repeated.
DJs and producers creating a house track to be played in clubs edit a “seven or eight-minute 12-inch mix”; if the track is intended to be played on radio, a “three-and-a-half-minute” radio edit is used.
Unlike trance music, which is designed to keep building in intensity, house music tracks are “more consistent” and rather based on “playing with the constituent parts and bringing them in and out” in a subtle way.
House tracks build up slowly, by adding layers of sound and texture, and by increasing the volume.
House tracks may have vocals like a pop song, but some are “completely minimal instrumental music“, as vocals are not required for the house genre.
If a house track does have vocals, the vocal lines may also be simple “words or phrases” that are repeated.
Influences and precursors
One of the main influences of house was disco; house music having been defined as a genre which “…picked up where disco left off in the late 1970’s.
Like disco DJs, house DJs used a “slow mix” to “lin[k] records together” into a mix. In the post-disco club culture during the early 1980s, DJs from the gay scene made their tracks “less pop-oriented”,
with a more mechanical, repetitive beat and deeper basslines, and many tracks were made without vocals, or with wordless melodies.
Disco became so popular by the late 1970s that record companies pushed even non-disco artists (R&B bands, for example) to produce disco songs.
When the backlash against disco started, known as “Disco sucks“, dance music went from being produced by major label studios to being created by DJs in the underground club scene.
various disco songs incorporated sounds produced with synthesizers and electronic drum machines, and some compositions were entirely electronic.
- Giorgio Moroder‘s with Donna Summer‘s hit single “I Feel Love” from 1977,
- Cerrone‘s “Supernature” (1977),
- Yellow Magic Orchestra‘s synth-disco-pop productions from Yellow Magic Orchestra (1978) or Solid State Survivor (1979),
- and several early 1980s productions by hi-NRG groups like Lime, Trans-X and Bobby O.
two influential DJs of house music, were known for their unusual and non-mainstream playlists and mixing.
often credited as “the Godfather of House” and resident DJ at the Warehouse from 1977 to 1982,
worked primarily with early disco music with a hint of new and different music (whether it was post-punk or post-disco).
Frankie started out as a disco DJ, but when he moved from New York City to Chicago,
He also explored adding a drum machine and a reel-to-reel tape player so he could create new tracks, often with a boosted deep register and faster tempos.
Like Frankie Knuckles, Hardy “combined certain sounds, remixing tracks with added synths and drum machines”, all “refracted through the futurist lens of European music.
describes how he got involved in house music after hearing Ron Hardy’s music in the Music Box:
“I wasn’t even into dance music before I went to the Music Box.
I was into rock and roll. We would get drunk and listen to rock and roll. We didn’t give a fuck, we were like ‘Disco Sucks!‘ and all that. I hated dance music ‘cos I couldn’t dance. I thought dance music was kind of wimpy, until I heard it at like Music Box volume.”— Marshall Jefferson
Cain cites industrial music (another genre pioneered in Chicago) and post-punk record store Wax Trax! Records (later a record label) as an important connection between the ever-changing underground sounds of Chicago.
an album of Indian ragas performed in a disco style, anticipated the sounds of acid house music, but it is not known to have had any influence on the genre prior to the album’s rediscovery in the 21st century.
According to Hillegonda C. Rietveld, “elements of hip hop and rap can be found in contemporary house tracks”, with hip hop acting as an “accent or inflection” that is inserted into the house sound.
The constant bass drum in house music may have arisen from DJs experimenting with adding drum machines to their live mixes at clubs, underneath the records they were playing.
Source of information Wikipedia