Welcome to the second edition of our Music 101 series! While last time we featured trap music – a relatively new genre – this time we’re heading back to the roots of electronic music and exploring everything that has to do with House!
House music can be traced all the way back to the late 1970s in Chicago, United States. Disc jockeys such as Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles were known in the city for playing various types of early-electronic music such as disco, funk, and electronic-pop. As pioneers, the aforementioned DJs would often mix all of the above genres with electronic effects, drum machines and synthesizers to give these tracks some added rhythm.
Picking up on this groovy beat was record producer Chip E., who is recognized as the first artist to put out a house record way back in 1985. His debut extended play titled Time to Jack, which features the minimal sound of house paired with repetitive lyrics and samples, set the stage for the future of house music.
Listen to Chip E.’s Time to Jack EP here:
Fun fact: The term “house” is thought to have originated from The Warehouse, a Chicago club open from 1977 to 1983 that was the home to resident DJ Frankie Knuckles, often referred to as the “Godfather of house.”
By the mid-1980s, popular Chicago DJs started producing and releasing their own original works, drawing influence from their favourite disco and funk tracks and using the Roland TR-808 drum machine and the Korg Poly-61 synthesizer to make the tracks edge more on the house side.
As house music began gaining traction in Chicago, sub-genres such as acid house and deep house quickly started to emerge, which we will cover in more detail in a future segment. The former emerged from artists experimenting with a different Roland synthesizer, with Phuture being credited as the founder of the psychedelic genre.
The infectious trend of house music quickly spread through the United States in the late 1980s, before reaching overseas in the UK and Europe in the early 1990s. Soon, the genre would become global due to its innate ability to set any club dance floor ablaze, with multiple sub-genres still being invented to this day.
The quintessential element found in every house track is the repetitive four-on-the-floor kick drum beat, where the kick drum is hit on every beat in common time. In addition, simple basslines and periodic hi-hat loops give house music its groovy, danceable feel. The beats-per-minute (BPM) of a house song can vary depending on the producer, but can typically be located between 120 and 140 BPM.
Check out the video below for the ins and outs of deep house (similar to Chicago house) percussion basics:
Early pioneers in the house music scene include the aforementioned Chip E. and Phuture, as well as Jesse Saunders, Mr. Fingers, Inner City, Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk, Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley, and more. Check out some old favourites from these artists and more below!
This concludes House 101! See you in two weeks for our next installment of the series: DRUM & BASS 101 ⚡
And if you’re looking for the best electronic music events and festivals, Electric Soul has got you covered!