What Is House Music?
House Music History and Explanation
“House is a feeling“, as the song lyric goes, and those who love it will happily testify to that.
Its percussion-led rhythmic beats are firmly driven by its African roots; this music is best appreciated by people who love to dance. The 4/4 time drum percussion with low frequency, heavy basslines are the reason it’s not just music to listen to but to “feel”…it can touch your soul, make you dance and lift your spirit. “Oh yes, you can definitely feel it!!”
The term “House” is much debated as to exactly when and who tagged it, but the most accepted version is that it was derived from the Warehouse Nightclub in Chicago where the legendary Frankie Knuckles DJ’d, and developed a distinct sound mainly due to the electronic drum machines of the day (Roland TR-808, TR-909 and later the TB 303 for Acid House). It’s been quoted that record stores began to sell some of these records and labelled them “as played at the Warehouse”, which became shortened to “house music”. Some of the early pioneer artists were Frankie Knuckles, Larry Heard (aka Mr Fingers & Fingers Inc.), Chip E, Tyree Cooper, Rocky-Jones, Ron Hardy, DJ Leonard “Remix” Roy and many more.
Over in New York (and a few years before the Warehouse), there was the New York City Paradise Garage club at King Street where the legendary Larry Levan was the resident DJ, and is credited for fusing disco with European electronic music (particularly Kraftwerk (Germany), Yazoo & Depeche Mode (UK), etc.) Another reason the tags Garage Music and House Music became so popular is the fact that by the early 80s Disco had developed something of a dirty name after it become mainstream on the back of the “Saturday Night Fever” film, and was no longer considered cool. In the early 80s the tag “Garage Music” was known but very underground (mainly in New York and by those in the know in the UK). A decade later, people in the UK (DJs and die-hard fans) would refer to the more soulful house as Garage, and by the mid 90s developed the sounds to become UK Garage (characterised by 4/4 choppy beats and vocal stabs), later leading to 2Step and a more poppy sound. In time, many of the early DJs no longer identified with this sound and turned their attentions back to House and some of its sub-genres like Funky House, Deep House & Soulful House.
As House Music progressed during the late 80s and early 90s, it was played all round the world and grew by influence of different cultures, creating many more sub-genres: Detroit Techno, Acid House, Hip-House, Hard House, Funky House among others. All these sub-genres took focus away from the original soul- and disco-influenced House. House and Garage lost its original identity, and for this reason the genres Deep House and later Soulful House became the new tags for those liking a more soul, funk & disco oriented sound.
Although House Music has heavily influenced and shaped pop music over the last few decades it remains non-mainstream and exists as a healthy network of underground scenes…and to many a whole culture.
Above is just a rough guide – for further reading I recommend www.djhistory.com
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