Ever since the advent of house music in the 1980s, Chicago house music has generated more than 200 subgenres. One of these subgenres is the deep house. But what exactly is deep house music, and how is it different from conventional house music?
Continue reading to get more information on deep house music, such as its origins, characteristics, types, and much more.
Understanding Deep House Music
What Is Deep House Music? Deep house music is an electronic music genre originating from Chicago house music. Deep house songs intertwine the pulsing four-on-the-floor signature beat of conventional house music with basslines and harmonies inspired by funk and jazz.
Unlike regular house music, this subgenre is also more likely to contain vocals.
History and Origins of Deep House Music
The origins of deep house music go back to the track “Mystery of Love,” which was released in 1985 by Larry Heard, popularly known as Mr. Fingers. The funk-inspired and groovy track was distinguished from other EDM tracks and subsequently inspired many deep house tracks.
Besides Mystery of Love, the song Strings of Life released by Derrick May in 1987 has also made a major impact in the deep house music genre. Like Mystery of Love, Strings of Life made use of slower and jazzy sounds along with extraordinary piano string breakdowns that several artists still use these days.
As per DJ Ron Trent, the term deep music was primarily used to define the DJ work of Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles, who moved from an entirely electronic house sound to infuse eclectic elements such as jazz, underground, and disco music.
Eventually, deep house music entered the mainstream media when legendary clubs like Paradise Garage (New York), Warehouse, Club Shelter began playing this music genre. To date, deep house music is very popular amongst house music fans.
While the original deep house musicians recorded their tracks on records, contemporary deep house artists now often upload their songs to online streaming playlists. They continue expanding the genre as it now transitions into its fifth decade of existence.
Features of Deep House Music
Deep house music comprises elements of all house music and certain elements that are unique to the subgenre.
Here are some features of deep house music.
- Four on the floor: Deep house music is always played with a time signature of 4/4 and makes use of a four-on-the-floor quarter-note kick drum pattern. This pattern is quite common in other subgenres of house music such as tech-house, progressive house, and acid house.
- Danceable Tempos:Regular house music is generally played between 120 to 130 beats per minute. However, deep house tempos usually lie anywhere between 110 to 125 beats per minute, thus creating a natural dance floor tempo.
- Jazz, Funk, and Soul Influence: Started with early deep house songs by Larry Heard, the style has mimicked 1970s soul and funk music. In certain cases, it also features synth pads playing the 7th, 9th, and 13thchords that are idiomatic to jazz music.
- Roland Synthesizers: This subgenre of house music is popular for its spacious utilization of percussion instruments. This is mainly because of Roland drum machines and synthesizers.
- Soft Pads.You can see such pads as soft synthesizer/keyboard sounds creating a sustained tone such as a chord. In addition, people often use pads for background atmosphere and harmony.
- Muted Bass Lines. A song has muted bass lines when it doesn’t have a distinct bass line. Thus, the bass in the song comes from other elements.
Here’s a enjoyable mix of deep house music:
Difference Between House and Deep House Music
Deep house music has its origins in house music. Traditional house is also known as Chicago house music because it originated in the Windy City in the early eighties. The “house” in house music is such because, through these machines, DJs were able to make songs at their house without needing a costly studio.
DJ Larry Heard made the deep house sound under the stage name Mr. Fingers. On songs such as “Mystery of Love” and “Can You Feel It?” he added a touch of the 70s funk and soul into the propulsive rhythm of conventional Chicago house. In addition, Marshall Jefferson also played a role in shaping this genre with his song “Move Your Body” in 1986. Mr. Fingers and Marshall Jefferson, like other house musicians, made music on the legendary Trax record label.
Vocals are more common in deep house tracks than in several other house music subgenres. The features (not requirements) of these vocals are stylish, slow, soulful, and smooth. Plus, it’s common that such vocals have a pleasantly concentrated dissonant melody and have a chic behavior and attitude.
Soulful vocals are quite common in this subgenre. The majority of the time, the lyrics of these vocals are uplifting and focus on being positive. Sometimes, the lyrics are more forlorn contemporary blue lyrics.
You can find both female and male vocals in deep house tracks. Nevertheless, female vocals are more common.
Difference Between Progressive House, Deep House, and Dance Music
Dance music focuses on strong rhythms, where 4/4 and 2/4 measure is used with generally high entertainment value.
On the other hand, the progressive house has comparisons of trance music but has mostly dark and more dreamy melodies with a tech-house beat in some cases as an aftertaste.
The intention of the deep house (4/4) is the opposite of dance music – its structure is clearly audible.
“SECRET” by Slider & Magnit and DJ Antonio is what you can expect from a dance song, irreversible, progressive house, and “Deep Indeed” is an authentic deep house song.
Most Popular Artists of the Deep House Genre
In their prime, several artists from the deep house genre ranked among the most popular in all of the dance music genres. DJs would play their songs in the dance clubs of Ibiza, London, New York, and Chicago alongside dubstep, EDM, hip-hop, techno, and standard house.
- Fingers (Larry Heard): Music historians and critics deem Larry Heard as the creator of the deep house genre, primarily because of his song “Mystery of Love,” that he released in 1985.
- Marshall Jefferson: Marshall Jefferson spearheaded the deep house genre, and his track from 1986, “Move Your Body,” motivated many deep house musicians to follow suit.
- Kerri Chandler: Kerri Chandler is distinguished for coming of age in New Jersey and New York instead of Chicago. His song “SuperLover/Get It Off” was quite a hit in 1991.
- Armand van Helden: Born in Boston, Van Helden traveled a lot as a kid because his father was in the Air Force. Through his extensive traveling, he acquired several international influences, which he incorporated into his deep house style.
- Fred Everything: Everything is a Canadian-French deep house music producer who helped spread the genre beyond American borders.
- Theo Parrish: Theo grew up in Chicago, where he engulfed himself in the house music scene. He’s known for combining funk, disco, and soul obscurities from the seventies into the music tracks he produces.
Last Few Words
We hope this article gave you a comprehensive insight into the deep music world. If you wish to listen to some songs from this genre, here is a list that you can check out:
- Joe Goddard feat. Valentina – Gabriel
- George FitzGerald – Full Circle (feat. Boxed In)
- Paul Kalkbrenner – Aaron
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.