The History of Dance Music - Part 1

A lesson in Dance Music history for those that need it and a brushup for those that want it by internetdj resident member Nelo. Only on InternetDJ.

Posted by Nelo on Mon Oct 21, 2002

Music News
Recently to my shock I discovered that many users of this site did not know the difference between Sasha and Sash! Seeing this made me realise that there is a whole new generation of DJ's and Producers who do not know the roots of electronic music. Firstly let me state that I have always been very much against lingering in the past but I do feel that a history lesson can help us move forward and produce a bright future. Read on and learn.

The tunes that defined dance:
You can learn a lot from reading but to really understand Dance music it is essential to listen. If you have never heard any of the following tunes then what the hell are you at? GO GET THEM NOW!

James "D Train" Williams from Brooklyn's "You're The One For Me" - The earliest "garage" record.

Grandmaster Flash : "The Message" - he was one of hip-hop's founding fathers and the creator of the Quick Mix, was the first person to change the arrangements of songs by using duplicate copies of records and manually editing/repeating the climatic part (later called the "break") by rubbing the record back and forth. This became known as "cutting", which was later called "scratching".

Farley Jackmaster Funk : "Love Can't Turn Around"
Steve Silk Hurley : "Jack Your Body"
Eric B & Rakim :"I Know You Got Soul"
MARRS : "Pump Up The Volume"
Jazzy B's Soul II Soul collective : "Back To Life"

Lil' Louis : "French Kiss" The first ever trance record!

Here is a history of Dance, each link goes to the Biography for that person, I suggest you read them all. They are the people who invented Dance music as we know it. And we all owe them for everything we do now.

This is the daddy of all dance music genres. DJ Carl Cox has been quoted as saying that house music is a feeling and if you don't feel it then it can't be house. Unfortunately, Alan Titchmarsh says the same 'feely' thing about gardening so we will have to dig a little deeper.

House has its origins in the disco music of Chicago and its name derives from the sound the warehouse parties and, in particular, the Ware House club. The early eighties saw DJs such as Frankie Knuckles cut together disco and electronic music as well as use reel to reel tapes to increase the impact of the kick drum.

Taking root in New York's black, gay scene clubs such as The Loft and The Paradise Garage nurtured the 'house' sound to a devoted following. Jesse Saunders and Jamie Principle are widely regarded as the first producers to commit some of the first house tunes "On and On" and "Your Love" to vinyl. Farley "Jackmaster" Funk and Marshall Jefferson refined the sound that would in the years to come cause a world wide musical revolution. Whilst typically characterised by its pianos, vocals, strings, synth stabs and bass lines it is the relentless four-four kick drum that has been house music's raison d'Ítre for the last twenty years.

Set against the urban decline of Detroit's failing automotive industry and the fall out from the race riots of 1967, techno took its lead from the house music coming out of New York and Chicago.

Fusing the kick drum with a new machine, the Roland TB 303 (an analogue bass unit that would, in all honesty, generate lots of interesting noises for you) producers such as Kevin Saunderson, Juan Atkins and Derrick May opened another chapter in dance music's history. Electronic music produced in Europe from bands such as Kraftwerk and Gary Numan also helped influence the sound, giving it a more mechanical feel.

In an effort to explain the infant genre Derrick May once said, "It's like George Clinton and Kraftwerk are stuck in an elevator with only a sequencer to keep them company". Often dark and brooding, techno has given birth to some fierce, pounding dance floor monsters as well as high brow industrial soundscapes.

Regarded as an intellectual pursuit by many of its main protagonists, techno producers, Jeff Mills in particular, have spent lengthy periods researching the concepts behind a musical idea before committing to anything in the studio. The name 'techno' was introduced to the wider media via a couple of sources. The Face ran an article in 1988 using the term and in May of that year Virgin Records released a compilation entitled Techno! The New Dance Sound of Detroit.

Other Links
The History of Dance Music Part 1

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