The Art and History of DJ-Mixing
by Alex Cosper

See also:
How to Find a Wedding DJ

Electronic Music 1980s
Electronic Music 1990s
Electronic Music 2000s

How Early Disco Shaped Dance Music in the 70s

If anyone deserves credit for starting the disco revolution it was Barry White. He wrote and produced the first disco record ever to hit number one in America, which was "Love's Theme" in early 1974, recorded by White's instrumental backing band the Love Unlimited Orchestra. It eventually became the theme song to ABC's Wide World of Sports. White also had his own hits dating back to 1973 with "I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby," which was a top three pop record and a number one R&B record. It had the elements of early disco as did White's 1974 hits such as "Never Gonna Give Ya Up," "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe"and "You're the First, the Last, My Everything."

White's fast, repetitive, pulsating rhythm sections became the hallmark of the disco sound. His arrangements with lush horn sections also contributed to what shaped the jazzy sound of disco. Some music historians will say disco actually started in France or Australia or that the beat really came from Latin music, but Barry White was the first to make disco big in America. The infectious sound came out on several 1974 hits such as "Rock the Boat" by Hues Corporationand "Rock Your Baby" by George McCrae, which were both number one records.

"Rock Your Baby" was written by Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch, the team that wrote five number one hits for KC & The Sunshine Band, in which Casey sang vocals. The first time the word "disco" was mentioned in a big hit was in the late 1974/early 1975 hit "Get Dancin'" by Disco Tex & The Sex-o-lettes

As the popularity of disco began to escalate in 1974, club DJs started trying to come up with their own extended mixes to keep people dancing longer. The average 45 rpm (rounds per minute) record was in the three to four minute range. So club DJs would take two copies of the same record and mix them together on separate turntables. This may be why TK Records released an instrumental version of "Rock Your Baby" on the flipside, as was the case with the more bouncy pop number one of the same time called "Rock Me Gently" by Andy Kim. Soon more and more hit records started having instrumentals on the B-sides so that DJs could mix in and out of both records.

The popularity of extended mixes grew quickly. By 1975 record labels started issuing "12 inch" singles, which were the size of regular 33 1/3 rpm albums as opposed to the 7 inch 45 rpm single. Mixes were extended by making longer intros and "break" sections. This was the same year that electronic music was developing with the German band Kraftwerk, who had a 22-minute (album version) song called "Autobahn," that marked the beginning of electronic instruments dominating the production in popular recordings. But the idea of the all-synthesizer/electronic drum band didn't start to become common and popular until spearheaded by the hits "Just Can't Get Enough" by Depeche Mode, "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell and "Don't You Want Me" by Human League seven years later.

Disco continued to rise in popularity the rest of the seventies. The Saturday Night Fevermovie and soundtrack in the 1977-1978 period crystalized disco as timeless dance music with big hits from the Bee Gees such as "Stayin' Alive" and "Night Fever." Donna Summer, the queen of disco, began her string of dance hits in late 1975 with "Love To Love You Baby," a quintessential theme as to what disco was really all about.

It was also one of the first long extended mixes with a 16 minute version on a 12" issued by Casablanca Records. Her other big hits included "I Feel Love," "Last Dance," MacArthur Park,""Hot Stuff" and "Bad Girls." The great thing for DJs about "Love To Love You Baby" and "I Feel Love" was that the emphasis was clearly more on the dance beats than the lyrical storyline or structure. This meant the DJ had more freedom to mix in or out of the song since the dancer wasn't hanging on to hear a lyrical story.

The Art and History of DJ Mixing
How Early Disco Shaped Dance Music in the 70s
Disco's Influence on Pop Music
Transition to Electronic Dance Culture
Soundbites and Special Mixes
The On-Air Nightclub
The Secret to Beatmixing
Why DJs Still Use Turntables

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