Disco is the much maligned genre that helped spawn modern dance music and carved out a niche for electronic beats in the mainstream. While the original disco wave may have died out long ago, its influence still reverberates strongly in the world of house music. In fact, an entire genre has sprung up called disco house, which celebrates this musical style in a thoroughly modern context. This article takes a look at 5 secret ingredients that disco house producers employ while banging out some of their hottest tracks.
1. When in doubt, remix. In the past 10 years house music has adopted a strong tendency to remix classic tracks. Since disco music was so danceable in its original form, the addition of modern technology, beats and basslines coupled with advances in sampling is capable of generating a monster track if properly remixed. This can mean either revamping an entire song like M & S did with ‘Salsoul Nugget’ in 2000, or merely grab the main melody like the filter house / disco house classic ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ by Stardust.
2. Harnessing the power of a live element. One of the big differences between disco and modern dance music was the fact that while drum machines and sequencing played a role in the original recordings, most of the time real drummers, guitarists and bassists had a heavy hand it what ended up being pressed onto wax. This human touch can sometimes be missing from house, and the most savvy disco house music producers have had big hits thanks to savvy sampling of some of the most organic elements of original disco tracks. A perfect example of this is the track ‘Let’s All Chant’ by Disco Queen, which borrows heavily from the Michael Zager original. This can really get a good crowd response going at a club.
3. Vocals, vocals, vocals. A large part of the power of disco house music comes from its vocal flavor, which can be either male or female. In disco tracks, the vocals often carried the entire track, along with the baseline, so when putting together disco house producers try make sure that they can include a sweet vocal hook to snare in listeners. If a vocal isn’t available, then accenting the most recognizable elements from a past disco classic can help create a killer theme.