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date: 12 December 2019

Discolocked

  • David Brackett

Extract

A form of dance music that dominated popular music during the late-1970s. It features regular bass drum accents on every beat, frequent use of orchestral instruments and synthesizers, Latin percussion, and simple lyrics oriented around dancing, romance and a party-led life style. The term derives from discothèque: venues that began playing pre-recorded dance music in the early 1960s.

Disco emerged from clubs in New York City that catered primarily to African-American, Latino and gay subcultures. Based on the ‘sweet’ soul sounds popularized by the Motown and Philadelphia International recording companies, disco also included funk and Latin elements, and initially included a stylistically diverse range of songs. Its impact extended beyond musical style, challenging prevalent notions in popular music criticism about authorship and creativity. The central figure in this challenge was the DJ. Because DJs were responsible for selecting and sequencing songs, it was their taste that dictated disco’s sense of style rather than the singers and instrumentalists of soul and rock musics; successful DJ’s could acquire their own following in much the same way as a recording artist. In fact, the disco DJs predilection for reconfiguring existing recordings by fading out of one song and into another led to the recording industry’s invention of the 12-inch single, designed for easier editing. DJs shared the creative locus of the disco scene with the audience itself, as the focus on dancing stressed social interaction....

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