The origins & basics of House

House – originated in the early 1980s in the afro American clubs of Chicago is nowadays besides techno one of the most popular type of EDM (electronical dance music). It’s often played in night clubs and includes many sub genres, like deep, future, electro and tropical house. Worldwide famous producers are for example Avicii, Daft Punk, Calvin Harris and Armin van Buuren.

Obviously it developed from the dance music of the 1970s, which was very popular back in those days. Ron Hardy and mainly Frankie Knuckles, two DJs and producers from Chicago count as the first pioneers of the house genre. Even though it’s not sure where the name actually comes from, it could have derived from the Chicago nightclub “Warehouse” (1977-1983), where these DJs played their new tracks. Soon after Frankie Knuckles performed in the “Warehouse” his new type of EDM for the first time, many other DJs in and around Chicago started producing and playing House music. Through the local radio and different clubs it soon began to spread across other big cities in the country and even globally. Especially in the UK house music gained popularity very quickly, which led to conflicts, because the government didn’t liked this music and therefore tried to close dance clubs, where these so called “repetitive beats” where played, sometimes even with police force – as if something like music could be prohibited in a free country. The younger population however turned against the restrictions, so that the government finally had to surrender. In the following years huge stars like Madonna were also influenced by this genre.

Another large growth was during the production and development of progressive house between 1999 and 2001. Whereas nowadays there are many different subgenres of House music which also differ in some points, the basics remain the same.

Photo by Jasmin Schreiber on Unsplash

Characteristic is the steadily constructing and repetitive 4/4 beat in a tempo between 115 and 132 bpm, with kicks on each beat, open hi hats off beat, like in dance music (e.g. Michael Jackson) and deep bass. Not to forget the clap on every second kick, the synth on every third beat to cross the rhythm points and finally the chords and melody. Moreover to create more swing or a dance like feeling the sixteen high hats are sometimes slightly of grid.

The build up follows this structure: Intro, verse1, build 1, drop 1, verse 2, drop2 and outro.

Back in the days drum machines, like the Roland TR-808, a relatively cheap model and the TR-909 were used to create the rhythm/beat. Producers kind of tried to recreated dance music (beats) at first and later, when the technology had evolved, they used samples. Under “samples” in music production we understand the reuse of recorded melody, vocals, etc. However even until now producers create the basic eight bar loop with a kick, snare and clap patter, chord progression, melody and bass groove that’s so popular of House music.

For example purposes I produced my first techno house track. It’s not very professional, but it should still show how this music sounds like. Check it out on Soundcloud.

So that’s it – the origins and basics of House – a huge modern music genre that originated in a small dance club in Chicago. Let’s stay tuned and listen, which new types of music will arise in the future.

Featured image by Krys Amon on Unsplash


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