Disco is an up-tempo style of dance music that originated in the early 1970s, mainly from funk and soul music, popular originally with gay and black audiences in large U.S. cities, and derives its name from the French word discothèque (meaning nightclub), coined from disc + bibliotèque (library) by La Discothèque in Rue Huchette
Like all such musical genres, defining a single point of its development is difficult, as many elements of disco music appear on earlier records (such as the 1971 theme from the movie Shaft by Isaac Hayes) (Jones and Kantonen, 1999). In general it can be said that first true disco songs were released in 1973, however, many consider Manu Dibango's 1972 "Soul Makossa" the first disco record (Jones and Kantonen, 1999). Initially, most disco songs catered to a nightclub/dancing audience only, rather than general audiences such as radio listeners.
Social trends that contributed to disco music include the surpassing of white people by racial and ethnic minorities, black and hispanic people, in the purchasing of records and sound equipment, the increased independence of women in finance and leisure, gay liberation, and the sexual revolution.
Musical influences include funk, soul, and salsa and the latin or hispanic musics which created salsa.
1975 was the year when disco really took off, with hit songs like Van McCoy's "The Hustle" and Donna Summer's "Love To Love You Baby" reaching the mainstream. 1975 also marked the release of the first disco mix on album, the A side of Gloria Gaynor's Never Can Say Goodbye (Jones and Kantonen, 1999). Disco's popularity peaked in the so-called Disco era of 1977 - 1980, driven in part by the late-1977 film "Saturday Night Fever". Disco also gave rise to an increased popularity of line dancing and other partly pre-choreographed dances; many line dances can be seen in films such as Saturday Night Fever which also features Hustle and even a short-lived cartoon TV series called "Disco Dog" from 1974 until 1978, many people didn't notice that Charlie became more of a "disco king" dog, than he was not in the late 1940s and the 1950s.
Among the most popular disco artists of the 1970s were Abba, The Bee Gees, Chic, Sister Sledge, Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, Boney M, The Village People, K.C. and the Sunshine Band, Voyage, Salsoul Orchestra, The Trammps, and Barry White. However, many disco fans would agree that "for every chart hit pounded into the public's consciousness, fifty far superior tracks from all over the world were being played at some hard-to-find basement club" (Jones and Kantonen, 1999). Many rock artists, from The Eagles to The Rolling Stones, from Can to The Clash, discofied some of their songs. Blondie disappointed many of their existing New Wave fan base (including R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe) by releasing songs such as "Heart of Glass", though picked up an even larger fan base as a result.
In the early 1980s, George Benson, Patrice Rushen, Brothers Johnson, Commodores, The S.O.S. Band, and many other artists created disco classics. After 1980, however, disco music morphed into other forms, including house and Hi-NRG.
In the 1990s a revival of the original disco style began and is exemplified by such songs as "Spend Some Time" by Brand New Heavies (1994), "Cosmic Girl" by Jamiroquai (1996), "Never Give Up on the Good Times" by The Spice Girls (1997), and "Strong Enough" by Cher (1998) who had also released disco songs in the seventies.
During the first half of the 2000s, there were disco releases by a number of artists including "I Don't Understand It" by Ultra Nate (2001), "Love Foolosophy" by Jamiroquai (2001), "Murder on the Dancefloor" by Sophie Ellis-Bextor (2001), and "Love Invincible" by Michael Franti and Spearhead (2003).
Instruments commonly used by disco musicians included the rhythm guitar, bass, strings (violin, viola, cello), string synth (a type of organ), trumpet, saxophone, trombone, piano, and drums (sometimes using an auxiliary percussionist as well as somebody on a drum kit). Most disco songs have a steady four-on-the-floor beat (sometimes using a 16-beat pattern on the hi-hat cymbal, or an eight-beat pattern with an open hi-hat on the "off" beat) and a heavy, syncopated bassline. Disco also had a characteristic electric guitar sound, usually from the heavy use of the wah-wah pedal.
Generally, the difference between a disco, or any dance song, and a rock
or popular song is that in dance music the bass hits "four to the floor",
at least once a beat (which in 4/4 time is 4 beats per measure), while in
rock the bass hits on one and three and lets the snare take the lead on two
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