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A history of music

Parent categories: art - entertainment - sound

Real Rock (1967) - C. Dodd and Sound Demension

Featured articles: dance music - house music - disco music - modernist music - rap music - history of the dj - black music - music theory - electronic music - more music genres ...

Compare: art music vs popular music

A canon: George Clinton - Serge Gainsbourg - Kraftwerk - Larry Levan - Lee Perry - Fela Kuti - Arthur Russell - Neil Young - more ...

By region: music in France - music in the United Kingdom - music in the USA

Mastercuts presents: Classic House (1994) - VA
[Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

By era: 1970s - 1980s - 1990s

By occupation: DJs - instruments - music journalism - musician - music production - vocalist

By format: album - cd - single - 12-inch single - vinyl

By instrument: bass - electronica - keyboards - percussion - saxophone - singing - turntable

Featured cd:

Mastercuts presents Classic Disco (1995) - VA [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Welcome to the music section of Jahsonic.com. In 1996, when I first gained access to the internet, I found an online playlist of dance music from New York from the period 1975 - 1985. It represented the roots of house music, a genre I had been interested in since its inception. I copied the document, started to buy the vinyl involved, and Jahsonic.com was born.

Although I have omnivorous tastes in music, the music section of jahsonic.com mainly focuses on maligned genres of the late twentieth century pop canon: dance music, black music, disco, reggae, dub, house music, early hip hop, gay music, electronic music and techno. The focus is on artists that are lesser known but who have proven to be influential within the music community. The history of the club DJ is documented extensively in this section, along with the development of the twelve inch recording. If you'd like more in-depth information on this last subject, I recommend Last Night a DJ Saved my Life (Brewster and Broughton, 1999) and Love Saves the Day (Tim Lawrence, 2004)

Some of my favourite artists (I tend to focus on individuals rather than bands) are Lee Perry, Arthur Russell, Neil Young, Fela Kuti, Roy Ayers, Derrick May, Bill Laswell, Kraftwerk, Frank Zappa, Pharoah Sanders, George Clinton, Moodymann, Larry Levan, Walter Gibbons and Serge Gainsbourg. By favourite I mean that I like their whole oeuvre, as opposed to an occasional single, of which one can find good ones in almost any genre.

Although there are few, certain genres do not agree with me. Heavy metal (exceptions notwithstanding, see: Vertigo Mixed (2005) - Andy Votel) comes to mind: the aesthetics feel wrong; and although the United Kingdom is my favourite music journalism country (they are the best trainspotters), I don't care much for their pop records nor certain recent trends in British dance music (acid jazz, drumm 'n bass, grime, ...). I also do not like the macho lyrics in contemporary hip hop. Although no longer actively so, I have been a Rolling Stones fan when I was younger, I guess their love of black music has something to do with that. I do not own Beatles tracks.

For additional reading apart from the books mentioned above, I wholeheartedly recommend Cut 'N' Mix: Culture (Dick Hebdige, 1987) and Ocean of Sound (David Toop, 1995).

To get you started, here is a list of music styles you will find on Jahsonic, and here is a list of musicians I have info about. [Aug 2005]

If you want to send me a book or cd to review, please send an email and I will give you my postal address.

Rap music [...]

Rap music [origin: mid-1970s, New York City] is one of the elements of hip hop; it is a form of rhyming lyrics spoken rhythmically over musical instruments, with a musical backdrop of sampling, scratching and mixing by DJs. Originally rapping was called MCing and was seen as supporting the DJ.

Rapping began as a variation on the toasting found in reggae and dub music, mixed with influences from radio DJs and playing the dozens. Also of influence were the works of The Last Poets and Gil Scott Heron and Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues (1965). The original rappers, or MCs (from "Master of Ceremonies") would improvise rhymes over the beats created by the DJs. Early raps were frequently merely a sequence of boasts, or attempts to upstage the other MCs.

The first rap record was 1979's King Tim III by the Fatback Band (featuring the rapper King Tim III). The Sugarhill Gang followed the same year with Rappers Delight, that became a major hit and is based on Chic's oft-sampled disco track "Good Times". The first rap hit by a non-black artist was Blondie's "Rapture" in 1981. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapping [Oct 2004]

Prerecorded music [...]

Sometime in the middle 20th century, listening to music through a recorded form, such as sound recording or watching a music video became more common than experiencing live performance. Sometimes, live performances incorporate prerecorded sounds; for example, a DJ uses records for scratching.

Sociology of disco and house music [...]

From a sociological point of view, there is hardly anny difference between house and disco music. Both genres cross the boundaries of race, gender [clearly not being homophobic as rap and reggae is] and class. Both genres were intended to be played in discotheques, later called clubs. Both genres use the turntable as musical instrument. Both genres were intended to dance to, music intended for the body rather than the mind. Both genres are producers' genres, largely ignoring the "cult of personality" marketing techniques of mainstream music. The conclusion is that disco and house are the same music, because they serve the same purpose to the same audiences in their own time. --Jahsonic, May 2004

Rock music and rockism

Essentially hybrid in origin, rock music includes elements of several black and white American music styles: black guitar-accompanied blues; black rhythm and blues, noted for saxophone solos; black and white gospel music; white country and western music; and the songs of white popular crooners and harmony groups. Emerging in the early fifties, rock music was initially referred to as “rock 'n' roll.” After 1964 it was simply called “rock music.” The change in terminology indicates both a continuity with and a break from the earlier period; rock music was no longer just for dancing. After 1964 the music was influenced by British groups such as the Beatles. --Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Copyright (c) 2004.

Rockism is an ideology of popular music criticism, originating in the British music press in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

The fundamental tenet of rockism is that some forms of popular music, and some musical artists, are more authentic than others.

Rockism is a primitivist ideology; a subtext of rockism is that, at one time in history, they "got music right", and that since then has been a decline. Critics of rockism assert that this vaunted "golden age" of pure, authentic music is a myth, and that popular music never was entirely free of the interference of commercialism, marketing and commodification.

Some critics of rockism have alleged that it is a racist, sexist and/or homophobic ideology, in that the artists it privileges with the label of authenticity are predominantly heterosexual white males; the genres of music attacked by rockist criticism as less authentic than rock have included many black musical genres (hip-hop, R&B), genres associated with the gay community (disco, house) and pop music, where female performers such as Madonna (often charged by rockist critics with inauthenticity and trading on image over substance) have often found success.

Design critic and indie pop musician Nick Currie compared Rockism to the art movement of Stuckism, which held (among other things) that artists who do not paint are not artists. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockism [Apr 2005]

Disco music [...]

Scorned and ridiculed as feather-lite, escapist pap when it emerged in the mid-seventies, and now reduced to a kitsch scenario of Afro wigs, polyester suits and drunken singalongs at office Christmas parties and bachelor weekends, disco is just about the last place anyone would look for avant garde practice. [...] --Peter Shapiro, The Wire Magazine, Feb 2003.

Only by killing disco could rock affirm its threatened masculinity and restore the holy dyad of cold brew and undemanding sex partners. Disco bashing became a major preoccupation in 1977. At the moment when Saturday Night Fever and Studio 54 achieved zeitgeist status, rock rediscovered a rage it had been lacking since the '60s, but this time the enemy was a culture with "plastic" and "mindless" (read effeminate) musical tastes. Examined in light of the ensuing political backlash, it's clear that the slogan of this movement--"Disco Sucks!"--was the first cry of the angry white male. --Peter Braunstein, http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/9826/braunstein.php [June 1998]

House music [...]

Like it or not, house was first and foremost a direct descendant of disco. Disco had already been going for ten years when the first electronic drum tracks began to appear out of Chicago, and in that time it had already suffered the slings and arrows of merciless commercial exploitation, dilution and racial and sexual prejudice which culminated in the 'disco sucks' campaign. -- Phil Cheeseman, DJ Magazine, mid nineties

Electronic music

Electronic music is a loose term for music created using electronic equipment. Any sound produced by the means of an electrical signal may reasonably be called electronic, and the term is sometimes used that way -- in music where acoustic performance is the norm, even the introduction of electronic amplifiers may touch off discussions of electronic music (jazz and folk music, for example, have gone through a good deal of argument about the topic).

As a category of criticism and marketing, however, electronic music refers to music produced largely by electronic components, such as synthesizers, samplers, computers, and drum machines. Theoretically, the music could include any of an array of other "instruments". Also see computer music. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_music [Oct 2004]

See also: electronic music - electronic dance music

Larry Levan

Larry Levan was the first DJ-star and stands at the crossroads of disco, house and garage. He was the legendary DJ who for more than 10 years held court at the New York night club Paradise Garage. Quite a number of today's most successful producers and DJs credit their first exposure to Larry's music at the Paradise Garage as a moment that changed their lives forever and inspired their whole careers. [Read more about those DJs here]
Larry is also credited with putting the dub aesthetic into dance music and being the first DJ to play a very eclectic and open-minded mix of music.

There are two US clubs that had simultaneously broken the barriers of race and sexual preference, two clubs that were to pass on into dance music legend - Chicago's Warehouse and New York's Paradise Garage. Up until then, and after, the norm was for black, hispanic, white, straight and gay to segregate themselves, but with the Warehouse, opened in 1977 and presided over by Frankie Knuckles and the Paradise Garage whereLarry Levan spun, the emphasis was on the music. And the music was as varied as the clienteles - r'n'b based Black dance music and disco peppered with things as diverse as The Clash's 'Magnificent Seven'. For most people, these were the places that acted as breeding grounds for the music that eventually came to be known after the clubs - house and garage.

Last Night a DJ Saved my Life (1999) - Brewster and Broughton

Cover of the UK edition of
Last Night a DJ Saved my Life (1999) - Brewster and Broughton [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

From Publishers Weekly
Beginning with the contention that the disc jockey is "dance music's most important figure," Brewster and Broughton persuasively argue that the contemporary DJ is the epitome of the postmodern artist and that disc jockeys have long influenced the evolution of American musical tastes. Brewster and Broughton's ardent history is one of barriers and sonic booms, spanning almost 100 years, including nods to pioneers Christopher Stone, Martin Block, Douglas "Jocko" Henderson, Bob "Wolfman Jack" Smith and Alan "Moondog" Freed. Along the lines of Kurt B. Reighley's recent Looking for the Perfect Beat: The Art and Culture of the DJ,, this is an obsessively unabridged and ever-unraveling (the authors will offer updates at www.djhistory.com) chronology of DJs and the music Northern soul, reggae, disco, hip-hop, garage, house and techno they have fostered, and, more accurately perhaps, the music that has fostered them. So as not to miss a note, the authors, both former editors at Mixmag USA and contributing writers to The Face, interviewed more than 100 DJs, dancers and scenesters and elicited some vibrant, pull-quote anecdotes, especially in the hip-hop chapters. What comes to light makes sense: readers learn that the DJ is a distinctly American invention (Reginald A. Fessenden in 1906), but they came into their own, and into wealth and fame, in Britain (case in point: Paul Oakenfold). Brewster and Broughton's subtext is refreshing: rather than draw curt lines between American and British contributions, they show how intimate the countries were in forging a communications phenomenon. (Aug.) --Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --via Amazon.com

Product Description:
From the first time a record was played over the airwaves in 1906, to a modern club economy that totals $3 billion annually in New York City alone, the DJ has been at the center of popular music. Starting as little more than a talking jukebox, the DJ is now a premier entertainer, producer, businessman, and musician in his own right. Superstar DJs, from Junior Vasquez to Sasha and Digweed, command worship and adoration from millions, flying around the globe to earn tens of thousands of dollars for one night's work. Increasingly, they are replacing live musicians as the central figures of the music industry. In Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, music journalists Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton have written the first comprehensive history of the mysterious and charismatic figure behind the turntables -- part obsessive record collector, part mad scientist, part intuitive psychologist of the party groove. From England's rabid Northern Soul scene to the birth of disco in New York, from the sound systems of Jamaica to the scratch wars of early hip-hop in the Bronx, from Chicago house to Detroit techno to London rave, DJs are responsible for most of the significant changes in music over the past forty years. Drawing on in-depth interviews with DJs, critics, musicians, record executives, and the revelers at some of the century's most legendary parties, Last Night a DJ Saved My Life is nothing less than the life story of dance music.

Ocean of Sound (1995) - David Toop

Ocean of Sound (1995) - David Toop [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

A member of a radical editorial collective on the cutting edge of British music criticism in the 1970s, later a critic for more standard papers, including the Times, David Toop'S second book covers a vast expanse of music. His tour-de-force survey describes a dissonant and invigorating clash of music and noise from western classical to Javanese gamelan, from Claude Debussy to Miles Davis to Brian Eno, from disco to techno to ambient. He discusses the changes in our sound world caused by the global reach of radio and recordings, and shows himself a rigorous pluralist, open to all styles and forms, but unafraid to offer robust criticism in any musical sphere. --source unidentified

Radio Nova presents: Underground Moderne (2001) - Various

Radio Nova presents: Underground Moderne (2001) - Various [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Generally speaking underground music is music which has developed a cult following, independent of their commericial success.

For example, The Velvet Underground remains one of the most influential bands of their time, with an influence that has outlasted their short existence and meagre record sales.

Since then, the term underground music has been applied to several artistic movements, notably to the early psychedelic movement of the mid 1960s.

The term is also currently used to describe contemporary music of non mainstream musical exponents with actual specific genre or style being unimportant in determining the underground status. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underground_music [Aug 2005]

Mixed with Love (2004) - Walter Gibbons

Mixed with Love (2004) - Walter Gibbons [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

1. Ten Percent (Original 12" Mix) 2. Block Party (Original 12" Mix ) 3. Catch Me On The Rebound (Original 12" Mix) 4. Just As Long As I Got You (Original 12" Mix) 5. It’S Good For The Soul (Original Lp Remix) 6. Let No Man Put Asunder (Original Lp Remix) 7. Love Is Finally Coming My Way (Original 12” Mix) 8. We’Re Getting Stronger (Original 12" Mix) 9. Ice Cold Love (Original Lp Remix) 10. Cheaters Never Win (Original 12" Mix) 11. Law & Order (Original 12" Mix) 12. Catch Me On The Rebound (Original Lp Remix) 13. As Long As You Love Me (Original 12" Mix) 14. I Can’T Turn You Loose (Original 12" Mix) 15. My Love Is Free (Original Album Remix) 16. Hit & Run (Original 12" Mix) 17. I Wish That I Could Make Love (Original Lp Remix) 18. Nice N’ Naasty (Original 12" Mix) 19. Where Will It End (Original 12" Mix) 20. Salsoul 3001 (Original 12" Mix) 21. Moon Maiden (Original 12" Mix) 22. (Dance With Me) Let’S Believe (Original 12" Mix) 23. Catch Me On The Rebound Inst (Original 12" Mix) 24. Ten Percent (Original Lp Remix) 25. Rocket Rock (Original 12" Mix) 26. Magic Bird Of Fire (Original Album Remix) 27. Super Queen (Original 12" Mix) 28. Stand By Your Man (Original 12" Mix) 29. Your Cheatin’ Heart (Original 12" Mix)

Yet Walter Gibbons, against all odds, still became a DJ's DJ. "Everyone was going to hear Walter," says Smith, who would go down to Galaxy once he had wrapped up for the night at Barefoot Boy. "Most DJs finished at four so we could hear Walter from five until ten." After that, Gibbons and Smith would go for breakfast and, weather permitting, a trip to the beach, where they would talk about music. "DJs couldn't go and listen to too many people because we had played all night and didn't want to hear the same thing all over again. But we knew Walter would turn us on. Everyone showed up." --http://www.timlawrence.info/writing-pages/wg_mixed-w-love.html [Jan 2005]

Cut 'N' Mix: Culture, Identity, and Caribbean Music (1987) - Dick Hebdige

Cut 'N' Mix: Culture, Identity, and Caribbean Music (1987) - Dick Hebdige [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Consider the rapid growth of both recorded and performed music based on digital sampling, cutting and mixing. Many hip-hop musicians have dissected existing recorded music, sampling it, quoting it, and transforming it into their own recordings – recordings that are in turn the basis for other participants to subsequently sample, dissect, and construct new meanings. In turn, the “performance” of recorded music that is the domain of “DJ culture” is predicated upon the “live” dissection, manipulation and re-assembly of previously (and usually commercially) recorded music, weaving it into new creative texts. --William Uricchio

See also: Dick Hebdige

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