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The History of Disco and House

Related: disco - house

Disco and house are two music genres that were made for dancing to it in a discotheque or a club. 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.

"The fact that disco and house music got started in the gay clubs makes it tough for some of [the black community] to deal with it." -- Frankie Knuckles

Disco and house is the same music

The house music and disco music I refer to on these pages is the music DJs like Larry Levan and Ron Hardy played to a mainly gay, black and Hispanic crowd.

From a social point of view, there is no difference between house and disco. 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 across times.

However, there are some differerences between disco and house:

  • Era

    Disco happened in the seventies and house in since the eighties.

  • Technology [...]

    The difference between house and disco are electronic instruments, which were not widely available in the seventies and which WERE available cheaply from the mid eighties onwards on the second hand market.

  • Drugs [...]

    Another difference between house and disco are the drugs used. Disco had poppers and cocaine, house is linked to ecstasy, the love and dance drug.

  • Dance music is not marketed in the same way as pop music

    Being a DJ is about two things: technical skills and the quality of your record collection. The technique of DJ-ing is not the subject of this site, but the records are. From a young age I have been interested in dance music but if when I tried to find out more about them, or find the REALLY good dance releases, I started to realize that dance music is a hard genre to follow, especially if you are not a DJ or do not go to nightclubs every weekend. Dance music is not marketed in the same way as pop music. It is primarily a producer's medium. There are no bands, no concerts. The studio is the primary creative space. Dance records are pressed in smaller quantities and can potentially have a longer lifespan then music intended for the mass market. DJs are prized for playing records that other DJs do not have: rare and hard-to-find records older records, obscure classics and imports. --unidentified quote


    Virtually pioneered by Dj Sneak, original Disco House actually started around in 1991, and consisted of looped disco samples with more upfront "Chicago" style beats. The term "disco-house" became more popular around 1994, and has since been taken on by the French scene by the likes of Bob Sinclar and Daft Punk. Also see the live Disco sound pioneered the Idjut Boys, Crispin Glover, Faze Action and early releases on Nuphonic Records.

    A bluffer's Guide to disco and house music

    New York: Masters At Work | Joe Claussell | Larry Levan | Todd Terry | Francois Kevorkian | Patrick Adams | Kool Herc | David Mancuso | Mateo & Matos | Arthur Russell | Tom Moulton
    David Mancuso | Francois Kevorkian | Larry Levan | Walter Gibbons | Francis Grasso | DJ Kool Herc | Afrika Bambaataa | Kenny Carpenter | Ken Collier | Nicky Siano | Tee Scott]
    Seventies vocalists
    [ Loleatta Holloway | Rochelle Fleming | Jocelyn Brown |Taana Gardner | Fonda Rae | Gwen Guthrie | Christine Wiltshire | Bernard Fowler | Dee Dee Bridgewater ]
    Eigthies: Shep Pettibone | Tony Humphries | John Morales | Todd Terry | Frankie Knuckles | Ron Hardy | Derrick May | Juan Atkins | Jellybean | Francois Kevorkian | David Morales

    Nineties: Gilles Peterson | Danny Krivit | Miguel Migs | Terry Hunter | Ten City | DJ Pierre | Roy Davis Jr | Carl Craig | 4 hero | Maurizio, aka Moritz Von Oswald | Rainer Truby | Sandy Rivera | Jazzanova | Farley & Heller New | DJ Harvey | Kyoto Jazz Massive | Kerri Chandler | Ashley Beedle | Romanthony | Kenny Dixon Jr aka Moodymann | Jovonn | Full Intention | Basement Boys | Marques Wyatt | Louie Vega | Masters At Work | Todd Terry | Francois Kevorkian | Joe Claussell | Jepthe Guillaume | Glenn Underground | Mateo & Matos | Ron Trent | Cricco Castelli | Todd Edwards | Daniel Wang | Blaze | Tony Humphries | Faze Action | 95 North | Julius Papp | Idjut Boys | Armand Van Helden | King Britt | Mark Farina
  • Patrice Rushen | Dee Dee Bridgewater | Fontella Bass | Leroy Sibbles | Leon Thomas | Bernard Fowler | Loleatta Holloway | Anthony "Oh Oh Oh" Malloy | Leroy Burgess | Jocelyn Brown | Christine Wiltshire | Gwen Guthrie | Rochelle Fleming | Robert Owens | Fonda Rae

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