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House music is a genre of electronic dance music created by club DJs and music producers in Chicago in the early 1980s. Early house music was generally characterized by repetitive 4/4 beats, rhythms mainly provided by drum machines, off-beat hi-hat cymbals, and synthesizedbasslines. While house displayed several characteristics similar to disco music, which preceded and influenced it, as both were DJ and record producer-created dance music, house was more electronic and minimalistic. The mechanical, repetitive rhythm of house was one of its main components. Many house songs were instrumental, with no vocals; some had singing throughout the song with lyrics; and some had singing but no actual words.
House music developed in Chicago's underground dance club culture in the early 1980s, as DJs from the subculture began altering the pop-like disco dance tracks to give them a more mechanical beat and deeper basslines. As well, these DJs began to mix synth pop, rap and even jazz into their tracks. It was pioneered by Chicago DJ and record producer Frankie Knuckles, the Chicago acid-house electronic music group Phuture, the Tennessee DJ/producer Mr. Fingers, and US-born, UK-based singer Kym Mazelle. The genre was originally associated with Black and gay subcultures but has spread to the mainstream. From its beginnings in the Chicago club and local radio scene, the genre spread internationally to London, then to American cities such as New York City and Detroit, and eventually globally.
Chicago house music acts from the early to mid-1980s found success on the US dance charts on various Chicago independent record labels that were more open to sign local house music artists. These same acts also experienced some success in the United Kingdom, garnering hits in that country. Due to this success, by the late 1980s, Chicago house music acts suddenly found themselves being offered major label deals. House music proved to be a commercially successful genre and a more mainstream pop-based variation grew increasingly popular. Since the early to mid-1990s, house music has been infused into mainstream pop and dance music worldwide. In the 2010s, the genre, while keeping several of its core elements, notably the prominent kick drum on most beats, varies widely in style and influence, ranging from soulful and atmospheric to the more minimalistic microhouse. House music has also fused with several other genres creating fusion subgenres, such as euro house, tech house, electro house and jump house. One subgenre, acid house, was based around the squelchy, deep electronic tones created by Roland's TB-303 bassline machine.
House music is created by DJs, record producers, and music artists, often with contributions from other performers on synthesizer and other electronic instruments. The structure of house music songs typically involves an intro, a chorus, various verse sections, a midsection and an outro. Some songs do not have a verse, taking a vocal part from the chorus and repeating the same cycle. The drum beat is one of the more important elements within the genre and is almost always provided by an electronic drum machine, usually Roland's TR-808 or TR-909, rather than by a human drummer playing drumkit. The drum beats of house are "four on the floor", with bass drums played on every beat and they usually feature off-beat drum machine hi-hat sounds. House music is often based on bass-heavy loops or basslines produced by a synthesizer and/or from samples of disco or funk songs. One subgenre, acid house, was based around the squelchy, deep electronic tones created by Roland's TB-303 bassline synth.
The tempo of most house songs is between 118 and 135 beats per minute (bpm).