What is house music?
House music is an up tempo disco style of music characterised by deep bass rhythms that played by piano or synthesiser melodies and soul music singing sometimes with the elements of rock music.
The term “House” is much debated as to exactly when and who tagged it, but the most accepted version is that it was derived from the Warehouse Nightclub in Chicago where the legendary Frankie Knuckles DJ’d, and developed a distinct sound mainly due to the electronic drum machines of the day (Roland TR-808, TR-909 and later the TB 303 for Acid House).
It’s been quoted that record stores began to sell some of these records and labelled them “as played at the Warehouse”, which became shortened to “house music”. Some of the early pioneer artists were Frankie Knuckles, Larry Heard (aka Mr Fingers & Fingers Inc.), Chip E, Tyree Cooper, Rocky-Jones, Ron Hardy, DJ Leonard “Remix” Roy and many more.
The common element of house music is a prominent kick drum on every beat (also known as a four-to-the-floor beat), usually generated by a drum machine or sampler. The kick drum sound is augmented by various kick fills and extended dropouts. The drum track is filled out with hihat cymbal patterns on the eighth-note offbeat, and a snare drum or clap sound on beats two and four of every bar. This pattern is derived from so-called “four-on-the-floor” dance drumbeats of the 1960s and especially the 1970s disco drummers.
House music took root in Pretoria, South Africa in the early 1990s, and then spread to Johannesburg where it was slowed down and combined with local elements to form Kwaito. But if Kwaito was the music that defined the generation that came of age after apartheid, the beats have been ramped back up and South African House music is now more in tune with today’s increasingly “globalised” South Africans.