by Alex Cosper
How to Find a Wedding DJ
Electronic Music 1980s
Electronic Music 1990s
Electronic Music 2000s
By 1979 it looked as though disco had commercially conquered everything else in music at least on the singles charts with hits like "YMCA" by the Village People, "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor, "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge and "Do You Think I'm Sexy" by Rod Stewart. Disco hit its peak in popularity in 1979 as Chic opened the year with the number one hit "Le Freak" and hit the top again that summer with "Good Times." The flipside was an instrumental of "Good Times." A group called Sugarhill Gang took that flipside and used it for the basis of the first rap hit "Rapper's Delight," which hit the top 40 at the end of 1979.
There had been earlier lesser known rap by R&B artists such as Curtis Blow, but "Rapper's Delight" became the dance floor anthem and prototype for future dance/rap hits. Some of the earliest cited hip hop or rap music is often attributed to DJ Kool Herc, who began to make a mark mixing records with spoken word in the mid seventies. By the late seventies there were several rap artists such as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. In the summer of 1981 "Double Dutch Bus" by Frankie Smith was another huge early rap record on the pop charts.
The whole concept of disco was based on repeating rhythms - usually with quarter note drum beats, meaning every beat of the 1-2-3-4 pattern was accented, creating a hyper pulsating effect. Up until that time most drum tracks on hit records were either pulled way back in the mix or concentrated on accenting every other beat, especially in rock and roll. Eventually disco transformed into what was called "crossover dance music," which fused the disco sound with the syncopated rhythms of r&b. It became a complex mix of quarter note accents laid over completely different rhythms that usually included louder accents on the second and fourth beats and sometimes 6/8 rhythms laid over 4/4 foundations.
The star of the disco record, unlike the rock star, was not so much the singer as it was the dancer on the dance floor. The dancer's most intimate connection with the disco record was that familiar pulsating sound of the drums, that was becoming more and more the driving force of pop music from the mid-seventies on. In the late seventies live drummers with huge drum kits were no longer necessary to make dance recordings as the electronic drum machine came of age. The first drum machine, the Rhythmicon, actually dated back to the early 1930s. It produced 16 different rhythms. The first commercialization of this concept began with organs that integrated drum machines in the late sixties.
In the early seventies the Rhythm Ace, featuring preset rhythms, came on the scene as an early introduction to the company that became Roland. In 1978 Roland issued the CR-78, which was the first programmable drum machine, that allowed the user to create their own drum patterns. Drum machines began to be heard more and more on hit records in the early eighties, especially after the popularity of "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes.
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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