If you read our earlier piece on the history of electronic music, you may have a leg up on the history of house music, as it’s often considered one of the direct descendants of disco music. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the invention of the Moog synthesizer and the birth of electronic music, it might be helpful to familiarize yourself with the basics as a way to help understand the beginnings of house music.
The history of house music
It’s said that house music rose from the ashes of disco. After the sixties and seventies thrived with disco artists and pioneers alike, including Giorgio Moroder and Kraftwerk, there was a rise of a new style in Chicago: house.
In Chicago’s Southside in 1977, a new type of club opened shop, and it was called the Warehouse, which is how house music got its name.
The Warehouse was opened by friends of Bronx native Frankie Knuckles, who is often referred to as the “Godfather of House,” and was open until 1983.
Frankie’s style of cuts which overlaid soul music with lesser known disco tunes and more rhythmic beats was soon known as “music played at the Warehouse” and later sold as a shortened “house music.”
The signature early house music sound was made by altering the pop-like disco dance tracks to give them a more mechanical beat and deeper bass lines, usually with 4/4 beats provided by mechanical drums.
Frankie Knuckles wasn’t the only one pushing Chicago house music forward. Other Chicago DJs such as Chip E., Adonis, Larry Heard, Marshall Jefferson, Walter Gibbins, and Steve Hurley were influential in the sound expanding as well. As technology advanced, and the sound of house music spread, the genre’s fans grew from mostly LGBT and people of color to include a much wider demographic.
After Chicago’s dance scene blew up with house, the genre quickly grew to fame internationally in London, and later traveled to New York and Detroit. Like many genres before, house music has begun to develop new subgenres with the help of globalization, emerging technology, and cross-genre influences. It’s exciting to see where it will go next.