关于“House”这个名字的由来有许多争论。在20世纪70年代晚期和80年代早期,地下仓库party成为青年人的最爱。其中一个叫做“The Warehouse”的地下仓库据点很出名,参加party的人主要是黑人男同性恋者。当时Warehouse的驻场DJ叫Frankie Knuckles,他把经典的disco、欧式synthpop、new wave、indrustrial和punk的音乐元素mix在一起。夜场的常客们就把他的音乐称为“House”音乐。

关于House音乐的起源还有其它说法,Larry Heard (又名Mr Fingers)认为“House”这个名字反映了许多早期DJ是在自己家里制作音乐的。当时有一些简单的乐器,例如合成器和鼓机,包括著名的Roland TR-808TR-909TB-303“贝司”(之所以加引号是因为,虽然最初设计TB-303时是想做成电贝司,但是它的声音根本不像贝司,而是一种称为Acid的奇特音色),这些乐器被称为“Acid Machines”,制作酸性音乐的机器。

另外一种争议认为,House音乐的名称来自Chip E.的早期专辑《It's House》。然而,Chip E.本人则宣称,他在20世纪80年代早期在唱片店Imports Etc中工作过,他为专辑命名的灵感来自该唱片店中为唱片分类标记的方式。

比较公认的说法仍然是上文提到的,DJ Knuckles在Warehouse夜场所放的音乐的标题是“As Heard At The Warehouse”,简称“The House”。


The common element of house music is a prominent 4/4 beat (a prominent kick drum on every beat, also known as four-on-the-floor) generated by a drum machine or other electronic means (such as a sampler).

House music also uses a continuous, repeating (usually also electronically generated) bassline. Typically added to this foundation are electronically generated sounds and samples of music such as jazz, blues and synth pop, as well as additional percussion.


House music also refers to the recorded music played while a theater audience takes their seats before a performance, or, in live music venues, the recorded music played before the live music begins. That name is given because the music is played in the front of house.

Well-known live performers can request their choice of house music, or specify that there be no house music. These requests are made in the technical rider to their contract, the same document that specifies what items must be present in the dressing room.



From disco to house: late 1960s to early 1980s[]

Template:Main House Music is an evolution. It is most fundamentally the direct descendant of Disco which was already an unusually inclusive and dynamic music form with a wide range of influences such as Soul, R&B, Funk, Salsa, Symphonic, Rock and Pop with an extremely progressive social perspective in which diversity was expected and embraced. House Music not only withstood the curious social backlash of a short-lived attempted Disco "bashing," but flourished despite of it. Evolving the hallmark element of inclusion, house music remained receptive to new stimulus such as New Wave, Reggae, Euro-Synth Pop, Industrial and Punk as well as the emerging Rap and Hip-Hop milieu. Experimenting with radically new and conceptual editing techniques along with the mastery of new "high-tech" electronic instruments (of the moment), this epoch witnessed and contributed heavily to the ascension of the "remix," "sampling" and the "DJ" along with many other musical and lyrical innovations.

Not accidentally, House music was far more consciously aimed at clubs rather than concerned with commercial success. As a result, the compositions were much more conceptual, longer in length and much more mature in content than was suitable for corporate radio/commercial airplay. It is also important to note the location of these MAJOR contemporary musical advancements which took place far away from either the corporate music industry or "traditional academia" but rather deep in the mosaic of urban "streets" (houses, garages and clubs) of the cities involved.

House, techno, electro and hip-hop musicians owe a debt to the pioneers of analog synthesizers which enabled a wide range of new electronic sounds at the touch of a button or key. Analog synthesizers allow musicians to control many facets of the sound, such as the attack, decay, and tone, which gave musicians a large range of possibilities for sound shaping. Equally important to the evolution of the genre was the introduction of sequencers, which would allow electronic elements and samples to be easily placed in an arrangement and moved at will as the tracks took shape. See MIDI

Fully electronic music tracks predated house. Early American Sci-Fi films and the BBC Soundtrack to popular television series Doctor Who stirred a whole generation of techno music lovers like the space rock generation during the 1970s, influenced by the psychedelic rock sound of the late 1960s and bands such as Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, Amon Düül, Crazy World of Arthur Brown, and the so-called Krautrock early electronic scene (Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze).

Space rock was a genre similar and parallel to the Kosmische Musik scene in Germany. Space rock is characterized by the use of "spatial" and "floating" background sounds, mantra loops, electronic sequences, and futuristic effects over rock music song structures. Some artists performing this style were Gong and Hawkwind.

However, the most distinguishing element of House (and Disco) Music was the "humanization" of the new electronic instruments and music which previously, on its own had a tendency to sound cold, distant and mechanical. By skillfully combining live traditional instruments (and instrumentation) and percussion juxtaposed against preprogrammed electronic synthesizers and "beat-boxes" along with soulful, witty and experimental lyrics, House Music ushered in a new musical zeitgeist creating a sublime and pleasurable balance of organic and synthetic sounds.

The late 1970s saw disco utilize the (by then) somewhat developed electronic sound and a limited genre emerged, appealing mainly to gay and Black audiences. In 1977, disco music crossed over into the mainstream American culture, following the popularity of hit film Saturday Night Fever and its accompanying soundtrack. As disco clubs filled there was a move to larger venues.

"Paradise Garage" opened in New York in January 1978, featuring the DJ talents of Larry Levan (19541992). Studio 54, another New York disco club, was extremely popular. The clubs played the tunes of singers such as Diana Ross, CHIC, Gloria Gaynor, Kool & the Gang, Donna Summer, and Larry Levan's own hit, “I Got My Mind Made Up.” The disco boom was short-lived. There was a backlash from Middle America, epitomised in Chicago radio DJ Steve Dahl's "Disco Demolition Night" in 1979. Disco returned to the smaller clubs and warehouses in Chicago.

During the Seventies there was a battle of the DJ's Opening in 1977, the Warehouse on Jefferson street in Chicago, was a key venue in the development of house music. The main DJ was Frankie Knuckles. At the other end of house was Ron Hardy, his sound was a more raw driving DJ sound as opposed to Frankie's smooth melodious Disco sound. Many of the club staples were a combination of New Wave and the old disco tunes but the limited number of records meant that the DJ had to be a creative force, introducing more deck work to revitalize old tunes. The new mixing skills also had local airplay with the Hot Mix 5 at WBMX.

The chief source of this kind of records in Chicago was the record-store Importes Etc, where the term “house” was introduced as a shortening of "Warehouse". Despite the new skills, 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.

In Sheffield, England the industrial band Cabaret Voltaire is often considered to have pioneered their own version of the "house sound" as early as 1981 with tracks like "automotivation". Some recordings of The Clash have also been seen in a similar light. One of the first house tracks to inspire the English underground was "Promised Land" by DJ Producer Joe Smooth. It was covered by several English groups, including the seminal band "New Order". After house exploded on the UK, the next level was to bring the sound to New York. AandR man Apache Ramos heard Screamin Rachael's "My Main Man" on TRAX Records at the Paradise Garage. And decided to import the sound to the Big Apple. By signing Rachael. He also signed Colonel Abrams, who many people consider the King of House Music.

The Colonel Abrams track "Trapped" produced by Richard James Burgess in 1984 was a huge international club hit throughout 1985 and contains many of the elements that would become typical of house music - the four to the bar kick drum pattern, programmed bass-synth and driving sixteenth note hihat/snare part. Burgess and Jesse Saunders worked together in 1986 on a Geffen project. And these early collaborations brought New York and Chicago's house greats together for the first time. British producers Stock Aitken Waterman would exploit house by mixing it with bubblegum lyrics: they copied outright the "Trapped" bassline for the Rick Astley single "Never Gonna' Give You Up" (1987). That same year, they would take M/A/R/R/S to court over an obscure 7 second sample of someone moaning "hey" on one of their records, claiming it was "wholesale theft". SAW won the case.

Chicago years: early 1980s - late 1980s[]

Template:Main The style started out in gay clubs and warehouses of Chicago. People started going to these nightspots to hear this new style that was still called "Disco". Soon people shortened the phrase to "I'm goin down to the house...." and the style became popular in straight circles as well.

[1] In 1983 the Music Box club opened in Chicago. Owned by Robert Williams, the driving force was a DJ, Ron Hardy. The chief characteristics of the club's sound were sheer massive volume and an increased pace to the tunes. The club also played a wider range of music than just disco. Groups such as Kraftwerk and Blondie were played along with the "Disco" songs.

The Detroit connection: early 1980s - late 1980s[]


Detroit techno was developed in the mid 1970s and remained popular until the mid 1980s. Though Detroit techno is a distinct musical form, its pioneers were also instrumental in forwarding house music internationally, especially in the UK and Europe. Detroit techno developed as the legendary disc jockey The Electrifying Mojo, who conducted his own radio program at this time, influenced 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.

KMS followed with seminal releases, including Blake Baxter's 1986 recording, "When we Used to Play / Work your Body", 1987's "Bounce Your Body to the Box" and "Force Field", 1988's "Wiggin" by MAYDAY, "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 , KMS had another hit release of "Rock to the Beat" which gained popularity overseas and in Chicago.

Derrick "Mayday" May had a style that was similar to Chicago native Larry Heard (Mr. Fingers), but it soon became distinct and gained popularity in Chicago. Between 1986 and 1989, the Transmat label released several of his hits, including "Nude Photo", "It Is What it Is" and "Beyond the Dance" by Rhythim is Rhythim, "The Groove" by Suburban Knight, and "Illusion" by R-Tyme (Derrick May & D-Wynn). The biggest and most influential hit in the house music scene is Rhythim is Rhythim's "Strings of Life," which became a cult classic in dance music clubs internationally.

The British connection: late 1980s - early 1990s[]

In Britain the growth of house can be divided around the "Summer of Love" in 1988. House had a presence in Britain almost as early as it appeared in Chicago; however there was a strong divide between the House music as part of the gay scene and "straight" music. House grew in northern England, the Midlands and the South East. Founded in 1982 by Factory Records the Hacienda in Manchester became an extension of the "Northern Soul" genre and was one of the early, key English dance music 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 like for instance 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 underground 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. But the "Summer of Love" needed an added ingredient that would again come from America.

In America the music was being developed to create a more sophisticated sound, moving beyond just drum loops and short samples. New York saw this maturity evidenced in the slick production of disco house crossover tracks from artists such as Mateo & Matos and Blaze. In Chicago, Marshall Jefferson had formed the house 'super group' Ten City (from intensity), demonstrating the developments in "That's the Way Love Is". In Detroit there were the beginnings of what would be called techno, with the emergence of Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson.

Atkins had already scored in 1982 as part of Cybotron with the track "Clear" and in 1985 he released Model 500 "No UFOs" which became a big regional hit, followed by dozens of tracks on Transmat, Metroplex and Fragile. One of the most unusual was "Strings of Life" by Derrick May, who described his sound as "George Clinton and Kraftwerk jamming together in an elevator". It was a darker, more intellectual strain of house that followed its own trajectory. "Techno-Scratch" was released by the Knights Of The Turntable in 1984 which had a similar techno sound to Cybotron and is possibly where the term techno originated, although this is generally credited to Atkins, who borrowed the term from the phrase "techno rebels" which appeared in writer Alvin Toffler's book The Third Wave, 'Techno' being used in Cybotron's 1984 hit 'Techno City' (see Sicko 1998).

The records were completely independent of the major record labels and the parties at which the tracks were played avoided commercial music. The combination of house and techno came to Britain and gave House a phenomenal boost. A few clubs began to feature specialist House nights - the Hacienda had "Hot" on Wednesday from July 1988, 2,500 people could enjoy the British take on the Ibiza scene, the classic "Voodoo Ray" by A Guy Called Gerald (Gerald Simpson) was designed for the Hacienda and Madchester.

Factory boss Tony Wilson also promoted acid house culture on his weekly TV show. The Midlands also embraced the late 80s House scene with many 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).

In 1990 Electribe 101's debut album Electribal Memories hit the racks (it had been preceded by the single "Talking With Myself"), the groups music combined the slick techno-jazz of Larry Heard with hints of the Detroit sound, added avant garde lyrics sung by a deep soulful voice (Billie Ray Martin) and garnished it all with dollops of hip-hop beats and a dreamy soundscape reminiscent of "Dusty In Memphis". The group were immediately and vastly influential on everything from House to Downtempo and the earliest examples of Drum and Bass.

US developments - late 1980s to early 1990s[]

Back in America the scene had still not progressed beyond a small number of clubs in Chicago, Detroit and New York. Paradise Garage in New York City was still the top club, although they now had Todd Terry, his cover of Class Action's Larry Levan mixed "Weekend" demonstrated the continuum from the underground disco to a new House sound with hip-hop influences evident in the quicker sampling and the more rugged bass-line. While hip-hop had made it onto radio play-lists, the only other choices were Rock, Country & Western or R & B. Other notable New York producers and DJs of the time were Bobby Konders, Tommy Musto, Frankie Bones all of whom had their work licensed internationally in the 1980s. In fact, many of the recordings on the nascent XL Recordings (UK) came from those artists.

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.

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 extensively 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 is held by many to be one of the revitalising forces in Chicago Houses's rebirth of the early 1990s. Most of the 1980s generation were burnt out by bad contracts or had moved to New York or Europe. Cajmere started the Cajual and Relief labels (amongst others) offering a home to any producer in Chicago, no matter the style. 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 were bringing out fresh records at a furious pace. Artists from the also recently-revitalised Dance Mania such as DJ Rush, Robert Armani and his cousin Paul Johnson recorded for both and were in high demand as DJs in the lucrative European club circuit. Derrick Carter also became a deeply respected producer and a legendary DJ at this time.

Detroit was mostly known for techno and large labels such as 430 West, KMS and Serious Grooves with producers such as Kevin Saunderson, Marc Kinchen, Octave One (as well as fellow travellers from Chicago such as Chez Damier & Ron Trent who released records on Detroit labels regularly). During this period Underground Resistance were just as likely to release a pumping piano and vocals garage track as they were an electro track and had their Happy Records subsidiary.

Also at this time stirrings of a chilled dance scene relatively unconnected to the Chicago, Detroit, and New York scenes was springing up in the Los Angeles area with parties organised by Hardkiss and UK expats like DIY and Charles Webster. House music eventually came to clubs in cities like Boston, Massachusetts, Providence, Rhode Island, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C..

After the "Summer of Love": early 1990s to mid 1990s[]

In Britain, further experiments in the genre boosted its appeal (and gave the opportunity for new names to be made up).

House and rave clubs like Lakota, Miss Moneypenny's and the original C.R.E.A.M. began to emerge across Britain, hosting regular events for people who would otherwise have had no place to enjoy the mutating house and dance scene.

The idea of 'chilling out' was born in Britain with ambient house albums like The KLF's Chill Out. However, this album is not house strictly speaking, because its prominent lack of percussion on most tracks. Another example would be the song "Analogue BubbleBath" by Aphex Twin. In fact, Chill Out electronic music is often defined as a totally different genres, such as Ambient, or even downtempo (later on) or New Age (older). The unifying feature of Chill Out electronica is long sustained tones and a more tonal than percussive-noisy quality compared to other styles. Nevertheless, lots of compilation albums sprung up, no doubt, each one redefining the terminology along the way.

At the same time, a new indie dance scene full of variety was being forged by bands like the 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 and multi-era cultural 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 Criminal Justice Bill of 1994 was a government attempt to ban large events featuring music with "repetitive beats". There were a number of abortive "Kill the Bill" demonstrations. Although the bill did become 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 sound. In more commercial areas a mix of R&B with stronger bass-lines gained favour.

The music was being moulded, not just by drugs, but also the mixed cultural and racial groups involved in the house music scene. Tunes like "The Bouncer" from Kicks Like a Mule used sped-up hip-hop breakbeats. With SL2's "On A Ragga Trip" 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. One label, Moonshine, featured impressive compilation albums entitled, "140 BPM: The Speed Limit" which showcased what was termed "London Hardcore Techno". Showing an increased tempo around 160 bpm, tunes like "Terminator" from Goldie marked a distinct change from house with heavier, faster and more complex bass-lines: drum and bass (dnb). Goldie's early work culminated in the twenty-two minute epic "Inner City Life" a hit from his debut album Timeless.

UK Garage developed later, growing in the underground club scene from drum and bass ideas. Aimed more for dancing than listening, it produced distinctive tunes like "Spin Spin Sugar", the Sneaker Pimps's pop hit, remixed by Armand Van Helden in 1996, and "Double 99" from Ripgroove in 1997. Gaining popularity amongst clubbers in Ibiza, it was re-imported to the UK and in a softened form had chart success: soon it was being applied to mainstream acts like Liberty X and Victoria Beckham.

4 Hero went in the opposite direction - from brutal Breakbeats they adopted more soul and jazz influences, and even a full orchestral section in their quest for sophistication. Later, this led directly to the West London scene known as Broken beat or Breakbeat. This style is also not strictly "house", but as with all electronic music genres, there is overlap.

Mid to late-1990s[]

Back in the US some artists were finding it difficult to gain recognition. Another import into Europe of not only a style but also the creator himself was Joey Beltram. From Brooklyn his "Energy Flash" had proved rather too much for American House enthusiasts and he needed a move to find success. The American industry threw its weight behind DJs like Junior Vasquez, Armand van Helden or even Masters at Work who appeared to churn out endless remixes of mainstream pop music. Some argued that many of the formulaic remixes of Madonna, Kylie Minogue, U2, Britney Spears, the Spice Girls, Spiller, Mariah Carey, Puff Daddy, Elvis Presley, Vengaboys and other bands and pop divas did not deserve to be considered house records.

During this time many individuals and particularly corporations realized that house music could be extremely lucrative and much of the 1990s saw the rise of sponsorship deals and other industry practices common in other genres.

To develop successful hit singles, some argued that the record industry developed "handbag house": throwaway pop songs with a retro disco beat. Underground house DJs were reluctant to play this style, so a new generation of DJs were created from record company staff, and new 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.

By 1996 Pete Tong had a major role in the playlist of BBC Radio 1, and every record he released seemed to be guaranteed airplay. Major record companies began to open "superclubs" promoting their own acts, forcing many independent clubs and labels out of business. These superclubs entered into sponsorship deals initially with fast food, soft drinks, and clothing companies and later with banks and insurance brokers. Flyers in clubs in Ibiza often sported many corporate logos.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, CA, Chicago and the West Coast were coming together to form a new sub-genre, Chicago Hard House. DJs such as Bad Boy Bill, DJ Lynnwood, DJ Irene, Richard "Humpty" Vission and DJ Enrie were comingling sounds, developing a new style of house music that took the nation by storm. With the release of DJ Mix Compilation CD's, these artists developed an international fan base and started touring their sound. These DJs, still active today, crossed house music over at Los Angeles radio and in the clubs, making it a staple for clubbers and ravers alike.

House in the new millennium[]

Dance music arguably hit its peak at the turn of the millennium, especially in the US and UK. A number of reasons are seen for its decline in mainstream popularity during the 2000s:

  • Many people felt that club promoters had gone too far in what they were asking people to pay on a weekly basis to enter clubs. A prime example was on New Year's Eve at the turn of the Millennium. Some promoters had been asking upwards of £100 ($180) to attend clubs and various event venues across Britain. A large number of club goers instead decided to stay away all together or go to local parties. Many in general grew tired with paying up to £20 ($35) on a weekly basis for poor quality club nights which had little variation from week to week and venue to venue.
  • Older people that had been with the scene from the beginning started to move away. Many in their 30s started having families and settling down. Many younger people viewed Dance music as becoming increasingly outmoded with the same set of DJs playing in Clubs and on the Radio year after year. This led to the term "Dad House" being applied.
  • The democratization and mainstreaming of electronic music composing through ever-cheaper computer software made electronic music as a whole less novel and more commonplace. This also affected its marketability, since most music marketing requires a high degree of novelty to drive sales and cultural interest.
  • Many older clubbers who did have families remained active in the scene, and small-scale events organisers, invariably not tied to a venue, began to appear to cater to a group that was increasingly ostracised by younger clubbers, and unable to go clubbing more than once or twice a month. This scene subsequently has expanded and about half of those involved are under 30.
  • A lot of the same music was being played on commercial dance shows, and in bars, supermarkets, and television advertisements. This along with a lack of invention in the mainstream left many people feeling increasingly bored with the music. This has inevitably led to the music being forced back underground to its roots.
  • Ecstasy, the drug of choice for many on the Dance scene during the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, started to lose its popularity to Cocaine and Ketamine. Both these drugs changed the nature and the atmosphere of the scene. In part this was due to the decreasing proportion of MDMA in Ecstasy, which was increasingly being cut with Amphetamines, Ketamine as well as a generally greater amount of inert 'bulk' substances.
  • The global rise of hip hop during the late 1990s as well as the re-emergence in the UK of a strong Rock and Indie scene drew many away from Dance Music.
  • The Glade, the UK's largest electronic dance festival, began in 2004 as an offshoot of the Glastonbury Festival, featuring the UK's only dedicated Psytrance stage.

House music today[]

As of 2003, a new generation of DJs and promoters, including James Zabiela and Mylo, were emerging, determined to kickstart a more underground scene and there were signs of a renaissance in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and other racially-mixed cities, as well as in Australia, Canada, Scandinavia, Scotland and Germany. For example, in 2004 the Montreal club Stereo, co-owned by David Morales and party aficionado Scott Lancaster, celebrated its sixth year in operation and in 2006 The Guvernment in Toronto with Mark Oliver is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Stereo, opened in 1998, was modeled after the seminal New York City club Paradise Garage, focusing the experience on the quality of sound and lighting. The key to house music was re-invention. A willingness to steal or develop new styles and a low cost of entry encouraged innovation. The development of computers and the Internet play a critical role in this innovation. One need only to examine how house music has evolved over time to evaluate the effect computers and the Internet have had on house music and music in general.

In 2005 house music finds itself at a crossroads. The soulful black and Latin-influenced sound that enjoyed popularity in the late 1990s and early 21st century has lost momentum and has been alienated from almost all generic and hit music radio stations. Audiences all over the world are fragmenting into different camps based around the old-guard house sound and a darker, more synth-driven sound influenced by 1980s retro sentiment. Opinions are split on the new music. Some consider it directionalism, and others see it as an entirely new genre of music, having more to do with techno, electronica and EBM music than house.

Just recently, Richard M. Daley, Mayor of Chicago proclaimed August 10, 2005 to be House Unity Day in Chicago last July 27, 2005 in celebration of House Music's 21st anniversary. DJs like Frankie Knuckles, Marshall Jefferson, Paul Johnson and Mickey Oliver were cited among the many other DJs who came together to celebrate the proclamation at the Summer Dance Series event organized by Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs. A newer form of house called "Juke" and the "Footworkin'" dance craze have been gaining ground in Chicago [2]

Saturday Night Live had a recurring sketch called Deep House Dish featuring Kenan Thompson and Rachel Dratch as reviewers of house music. In a typical episode, several "performers," usually including the week's guest, will each sing a parodically bad song, and then be interviewed by the hosts. Dratch's comments are never interesting, a fact often pointed out by Thompson.



  • Donna Summer - "I Feel Love" (1977)
    Written by Giorgio Moroder, featuring both the machine rhythms and erotic vocal sound bites in which one recognises a germination of house music - the union of disco and electronic. Its bassline has been sampled on numerous electronic dance records.
  • Kraftwerk - "Trans-Europe Express" (1977)
    Played in New York discos in the late 70s, inspiring house, electro and techno DJs alike in the 80s, this track has made way for future house music and its techno off-spring. Disco percussionist/remixer Francois Kevorkian's mix of the later Kraftwerk cut "Tour de France" (1986) seems to predict much of the techno (and even some of the Drum and Bass) that would follow.
  • New Order - "Blue Monday" (1983)
    Frequently considered the missing link between disco of the 1970s and house of the 1980s. Importantly, it bridges the gap between electronic dance music and UK indie music fans in the post-punk 1980s. It has been sampled, remixed and covered by electronic dance producers all over the world.
  • Lime - "Lime 3" (1984)
    Third studio album by Lime (Denis and Denyse LePage) - no less important than the work of New Order. Lime's HiNRG music was a gradual evolution that took the sounds of Giorgio Moroder and Kraftwerk and moulded them into epic club records with catchy beatbox programming and numerous "breakdown sections" that were often reprised throughout the mix. The contributions of M and M to the group's club mixes crystallized the House-like elements in their music. "Angel Eyes" contains a programmed drum fill that is very similar to that used in "Blue Monday" by New Order, though not on the kick, as New Order's had been. Follow-up single "On the Grid" features the instrumental hallmarks of a House record.
  • Jesse Saunders - "On and On" (1984/1985)
    Considered the first house record pressed and sold to the public. A major presage of later electronic dance music. With original, mantra-like stripped-down synths (including a 303 and minimal vocal), this record was early house music revealing itself as more than the sum of its parts. On and On showed the more trance-like shamanistic side that would develop into acid house.
  • Mr Fingers - "Can You Feel It?"/"Washing Machine"/"Mystery of Love" (1985)
    In late 1984, Jazz-influenced Larry Heard developed three lush, 'over-engineered' sounding tracks in one sitting, eked out of equipment such as a Roland TR-707 and Juno 6. Heard's landmark work would set the trend for the Deep house genre that continued early house's atmospherics and (compared with later music) slow beat, 110-125 bpm.
  • Chip E. - "It's House" (1985)
    Written by Chip E. and featuring keyboard work by Joe Smooth, this release is often considered as the definition of Chicago House Music. The first self-referential "house music" record. The simplistic referential lyrics go "It's House, It's House" in varying pitch, to a driving bassline and percussion.
  • Marshall Jefferson - "Move Your Body (House Music Anthem)" (1987)
    The second self referential "house music" record. The referential portion of the lyrics goes: "Gotta have House Music all night long... With that House Music you can't go wrong..."
  • Phuture - "Acid Trax" (1986)
    The first acid house song ever made. Made almost accidentally during 303 experimentation by DJ Pierre, Spanky J and Herbert in Chicago and gave birth to the whole acid house movement.
  • Steve 'Silk' Hurley - "Jack Your Body" (1987)
    The first real House track to reach No.1 in the UK Top 40 pop chart in January 1987 - and was also the first to register more than half its sales on the 12" vinyl format. In 1989 Hurley would transform Roberta Flack's soft ballad "Uh Oh Look Out" into a boisterous inner city floor filler: the first fully formed example of such a transformation in the house era.
  • S'Express - "Theme from S'Express" (1988)
    An acid house classic. Obviously disco-influenced, combined with funky acid 303 baseline. Samples Rose Royce's classic "Is it Love You're After". Reached Number one on the UK charts.
  • Technotronic - "Pump Up the Jam" (1989)
    Probably the first house record to break the top 10 on the US pop charts.
  • Madonna - "Vogue" (1990)
    Close behind "Pump up the Jam" and produced by perennial New York DJ Shep Pettibone, this record marked the absolute commercial breakout of House in the United States. Went to number one on charts worldwide. Became the highest selling single on WEA up to that time, beating Chic's 1978 hit "Le Freak". Though she's seldom credited for it, 1985's under-produced "Into the Groove" was also hugely influential on the genre, and predicted the turn toward minimalism in club records (the record had been issued in its demo form because of time constraints on the "Desperately Seeking Susan" release, hence the under-production that is evident)
  • Leftfield - "Release the Pressure" (1995)
    Credited with the creation of progressive house music.


House music is uptempo music for dancing and has a comparatively narrow tempo range, generally falling between 118 beats per minute (bpm) and 135 bpm, with 127 bpm being about average since 1996.

Far and away the most important element of the house drumbeat is the (usually very strong, synthesized, and heavily equalized) kick drum pounding on every quarter note of the 4/4 bar, often having a "dropping" effect on the dancefloor. Commonly this is augmented by various kick fills and extended dropouts (aka breakdowns). Add to this basic kick pattern hihats on the eighth-note offbeats (though any number of sixteenth-note patterns are also very common) and a snare drum and/or clap on beats 2 and 4 of every bar, and you have the basic framework of the house drumbeat.

This pattern is derived from so-called "four-on-the-floor" dance drumbeats of the 1960s and especially the 1970s disco drummers. Due to the way house music was developed by DJs mixing records together, producers commonly layer sampled drum sounds to achieve a larger-than-life sound, filling out the audio spectrum and tailoring the mix for large club sound systems.

Techno and trance, the two primary dance music genres that developed alongside house music in the mid 1980s and early 1990s respectively, can share this basic beat infrastructure, but usually eschew house's live-music-influenced feel and black or Latin music influences in favor of more synthetic sound sources and approach.


  • The game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas includes a radio station, SF-UR, dedicated solely to House music. Additionally, Rise FM in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories plays mostly House.
  • On Saturday Night Live, Kenan Thompson portrays "DJ Dynasty Handbag", the host of the public access program "Deep House Dish" that reviews fictional house music performers who perform humorously stereotypical songs that are only a few seconds long.
  • In the British TV series "Da Ali G Show", British Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen in character as the eponymous London pseudo-gangster Ali G implied during a segment on dangerous drugs that "Ain't the most worring things about these (ecstasy) that it actually make you enjoy house music".

Further reading[]

  • Sean Bidder Pump Up the Volume: A History of House Music, MacMillan, 2002, ISBN 0-7522-1986-3
  • Sean Bidder The Rough Guide to House Music, Rough Guides, 1999, ISBN 1-85828-432-5
  • Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey, Grove Press, 2000, ISBN 0-8021-3688-5
  • Chris Kempster (editor) History of House, Castle Communications, 1996, ISBN 1-86074-134-7 (A reprinting of magazine articles from the 1980s and 90s)
  • Simon Reynolds Energy Flash: a Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture, (UK title, Pan Macmillan, 1998, ISBN 0-330-35056-0), also released in US as Generation Ecstasy : Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture (US title, Routledge, 1999, ISBN 0-415-92373-5)
  • Hillegonda C. Rietveld This is our House: House Music, Cultural Spaces and Technologies, Ashgate, 1998, ISBN 1-85742-242-2
  • Kai Fikentscher (2000). "'You Better Work!' Underground Dance Music in New York City". Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 0-8195-6404-4


  1. Peter Shapiro (2000) Modulations: A History of Electronic Music: Throbbing Words on Sound, ISBN 1-891024-06-X.
  2. [Thornton, Sarah] (1995) "Club Cultures"
  3. [Fikentscher, Kai] (2000) "You Better Work: Underground Dance Music in New York City"
  4. "Sonic Process" (2003)
  5. The History of House (2004) HouseKeeping: Funky House DJs from the UK

See also[]

  • Styles of house music
  • List of electronic music genres
  • List of notable house music artists and releases

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