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A history of dance music

Major areas: history of the DJ - history of disco - history of electronic dance music - history of house music - history of techno

Last Night a DJ Saved my Life (1999)
[FR] [DE] [UK]

"The desire to dance is innate; it has exerted a constant influence on music. "

Bibliography: Last Night a DJ Saved my Life (1999) by Brewster and Broughton is the best book in its league when it comes to documenting dance music of the mid to late 20th century in Europe and the United States. A close runner-up is Tim Lawrence's Love Saves the Day (2004). [Sept 2006]

Discography of cd compilations: The History Of The House Sound Of Chicago CD-Box (1989) - Greg Wilson presents: Classic Electro (1994) - Club Classics & House Foundations (1995) - Super Rare Disco (1997) - Jumpin Vol.1 and 2 (1997 - 1998) - Brian Chin presents: Perfect Beats (1998) - Disco Spectrum series (1999 - 2002) - Disco not Disco (2000 - 2001)

Related: 1970s music - 1980s music - Balearic - beat - breakdance - clubs - list of clubs - dance-punk - dancehall - disco - discotheque - DJs - drums - drum 'n' bass - drum machine - electronic dance music - electro funk - electro - funk - groove, groovy - hip hop - house - Intelligent Dance Music - jazz-funk - Miami bass - mix - music - new beat - northern soul - Paradise Garage - percussion - rap - rave - records - reggae - remix - rhythm - sample - ska - Technics SL-1200 - techno - turntable - twelve inch - vinyl

Key players: Larry Levan - Frankie Knuckles - Kool Herc

Connoisseurs: Vince Aletti - Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton - Phil Cheeseman - Brian Chin - Steven Harvey - Kai Fikentscher - David Mancuso - François Kevorkian - Tim Lawrence - Greg Wilson

The devil seems to be continually busy, inventing new ways to entice young people and adults into all forms of immorality and sin. He has used various forms of dancing very successfully, during the 20th Century. Each decade sees a change in this fad, but it seems that the change never gets better, but invariably gets worse. Various names have been given to the different forms of dancing in this century. We have all heard of the square dance, the round dance, the rock dance and now we hear much about the disco dance. None of these can be recommended for Christians to participate in. --unidentified 1970s Christian source


Dance music is music composed, played, or both, specifically for social dancing.

In principle, dance music includes a huge variety of music, from waltzes to rock and roll and country music or tangos. As of the late 1970s, however--particularly for people who frequent nightclubs--the term dance music has come to more specifically refer to electronic music offshoots of rock and roll such as disco, house, techno and trance.

Generally, the difference between a disco, or any dance song, and a rock or general popular song is that in dance music the bass hits "four to the floor", at least once a beat (which in 4/4 time is 4 beats per measure), while in rock the bass hits on one and three and lets the snare take the lead on two and four. (Michaels, 1990)

Nowhere is the influence of electronic music on popular music greater than in the field of dance music. electronic dance music is basically all dance music produced since the early 1980s, because all of the different styles have used electronic instruments. After all, there is no such thing as acoustic dance music of that era. [Nov 2005]

--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dance_music [Apr 2005]

Four to the floor

Related: disco music - house music - techno - trance - drums - music

Four to the floor or four-on-the-floor is a type of dance music characterized by a steady, uniformly accented beat in 4/4 time, popularized in 1960s, and disco music of 1970s. It is also known in country music.

Examples of this music type are disco, house, techno and trance.

This steady beat is usually maintained by the kick drum (bass drum).

When a string instrument makes the rhythm (rhythm guitar, banjo), all four beats of the measure (music) are played by identical downstrokes. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four-on-the-floor_(music) [Nov 2005]

European developments (1970s)

The idea of electronic dance music was in the air from 1975 on. Released as disco 12" records in the U.S., cuts like Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express"(1977) and "The Robots" came after Giorgio Moroder's electronic productions for Donna Summer, especially the 1975 "I Feel Love." This in turn had a huge influence on Patrick Cowley's late '70s productions for Sylvester: synth cuts like "You Make Me Feel Mighty Real" and "Stars" were the start of gay disco. --Jon Savage, The Village Voice Summer 1993 "Rock & Roll Quarterly" insert

see also: Euro disco

Body music

Disco and house are two music genres that were made for dancing, discotheques or later called clubs is where the music was played. I have come to believe that disco and house are essentially the same music forms. Technology has changed, the drugs have changed, but disco and house are both music to dance to - music that the body feels first.

See also: body genres

Dance music: Listeners as dancers rather than thinkers - Alice Bennett, The Social Science Encyclopedia.

The club DJ

The desire to dance is innate; it has exerted a constant influence on music. Consequently, the disc jockey has never been far from the very center of modern popular music. From his origins as a wide-boy on-air salesman to his current resting place as king of globalized pop, the DJ has been the person who takes music further.

Despite his pivotal role, to this day the established forums of music criticism remain almost completely ignorant of who the DJ is, what he does and why he has become so important. If this book aims to do anything, it is to show the rock historians that the DJ is an absolutely integral part of their story. As they find space on their shelves for another ten books about the Beatles, perhaps they can spare the time to read this one. --Last Night a DJ saved My Life (2000) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Dance music criticism

It is probably the fault of our Eurocentricism that dance music's importance has been downplayed for so long. Just as copyright laws protect the western ideals of melody and lyric but largely ignore the significance of rhythm and bassline, musical histories have avoided taking dance music seriously for fear of its lack of words, its physical rather than cerebral nature (hip hop, with its verbal emphasis, and techno, with its obsessive theorizing, are the rule-proving exceptions). And surprisingly, most writers who have explored dance music have written about it as if nobody went to a club to dance before about 1987. --Last Night a DJ Saved my Life (2000) - Bill Brewster, Frank Broughton

From stage to studio

"...ever since Miles Davis and James Brown transferred their primary creative space from stage to studio, the most succesful musical form in the popular arena has been the dance-groove : where cycles of rhythm, circling ever back to their beginnings, allow for small shifts and changes within the structure to bring with them remarkable shock-force." (Hopey Glass in The Wire).

Discographies: Dance, Music, Culture and the Politics of Sound (1999)

  • Discographies: Dance, Music, Culture and the Politics of Sound (1999) - Jeremy Gilbert, Ewan Pearson [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Experiencing disco, hiphop, house, techno, drum 'n' bass and garage, this work plots a course thorough the transatlantic dance scene of the last 25 years. Tracing the history of ideas about music and dance in Western culture and the ways in which dance music is produced and received, the authors assess the importance and relevance of dance culture in the 1990s and beyond. The book considers the formal, aesthetic and political characteristics of dance music. It discusses the problems posed by contemporary dance culture of both academic and cultural study and finds these origins in the history of opposition to music as a source of sensory pleasure. Discussing such issues as technology, club space, drugs, the musical body, gender, sexuality and pleasure, this book explores the ecstatic experiences at the heart of contemporary dance culture. It suggests why agencies as diverse as the House of Commons, the independent music press and public broadcasting should be so hostile to this cultural phenomenon. --amazon.com

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