Disco is a genre of dance music that that had its roots in clubs that catered to African American, psychedelic and other communities in New York City and Philadelphia during the late 1960s and early 1970s. While disco was a form of black commercial pop music and a craze among black gay men especially, it did not catch mainstream attention until it was picked up by the predominantly white gay clubs of New York. Latinos and women embraced disco as well, and the music eventually expanded to several other popular groups of the time. In what is considered a forerunner to disco style clubs, in February 1970, the New York City DJ David Mancuso opened The Loft, a members-only private dance club set in his own home. Most agree that the first disco songs were released in 1973, though some claim Manu Dibango's 1972 Soul Makossa to be the first disco record. The first article about disco was written in September 1973 by Vince Aletti for Rolling Stone Magazine. In 1974 New York City's WPIX-FM premiered the first disco radio show.
Musical influences include funk and soul music. The disco sound has soaring, often reverberated vocals over a steady "four-on-the-floor" beat, an eighth note (quaver) or sixteenth note (semi-quaver) hi-hat pattern with an open hi-hat on the off-beat, and a prominent, syncopated electric bass line sometimes consisting of octaves. Strings, horns, electric pianos, and electric guitars create a lush background sound. Orchestral instruments such as the flute are often used for solo melodies, and unlike in rock, lead guitar is rarely used.
Well-known late 1970s disco performers included Donna Summer, The Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, Chic, and The Jacksons. Summer would become the first well-known and most popular disco artist, giving her the title 'The Queen of Disco', and also played a part in pioneering the electronic sound that later became a part of disco (see below). While performers and singers garnered the lion's share of public attention, the behind-the-scenes producers played an equal, if not more important role in disco, since they often usually wrote the songs and created the innovative sounds and production techniques that were part of the "disco sound". Many non-disco artists recorded disco songs at the height of disco's popularity, and films such as Saturday Night Fever and Thank God It's Friday contributed to disco's rise in mainstream popularity.
The disco phenomenon was the last mass popular music movement that was driven by the baby boom generation.
An angry backlash against disco music and culture emerged in the United States hitting its peak with the July 1979 Disco Demolition Night riot. While the popularity of disco in the United States declined markedly as a result of the backlash, the genre continued to be popular elsewhere during the 1980s.
Disco has been influential on several dance music genres that have emerged since, such as House, Techno, and Nu-Disco. In addition, numerous acts have revived the genre directly or added various elements of it to their sound.
The Supremes - You Keep Me Hangin' On
The Supremes - You Keep Me Hangin' On (1966). A proto-disco composition.
The disco sound, style and ethos has its roots in the late 1960s. Psychedelic culture's overwhelming sound, trippy lighting, and hallucinogens would influence the disco scene. Psychedelic Soul groups like the Chambers Brothers and especially Sly and The Family Stone influenced proto disco acts such as Isaac Hayes, Willie Hutch and the Philadelphia Sound discussed in the next paragraph. In addition the positivity, lack of irony and earnestness of the hippies informed proto disco music like M.F.S.B.'s "Love Is the Message".
Philly and New York soul were evolutions of the Motown sound. The Philly Sound is typified by lavish percussion, which became a prominent part of mid-1970s disco songs. Early songs with disco elements include "Only the Strong Survive" (Jerry Butler,...
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