Dance Music

Dance music is music composed specifically to facilitate or accompany dancing. It can be either a whole musical piece or part of a larger musical arrangement. In terms of performance, the major categories are live dance music and recorded dance music. While there exist attestations of the combination of dance and music in ancient times (for example Ancient Greek vases sometimes show dancers accompanied by musicians), the earliest Western dance music that we can still reproduce with a degree of certainty are the surviving medieval dances. In the Baroque period, the major dance styles were noble court dances (see Baroque dance). In the classical music era, the minuet was frequently used as a third movement, although in this context it would not accompany any dancing. The waltz also arose later in the classical era. Both remained part of the romantic music period, which also saw the rise of various other nationalistic dance forms like the barcarolle, mazurka, ecossaise, ballade and polonaise.

Modern popular dance music initially emerged from late 19th century’s Western ballroom and social dance music. During the early 20th century, ballroom dancing gained popularity among the working class who attended public dance halls. Dance music became enormously popular during the 1920s. In the 1930s, called the Swing era, Swing music was the popular dance music in America. In the 1950s, rock and roll became the popular dance music. The late 1960s saw the rise of soul and R&B music. The rise of disco in the early 1970s led to dance music becoming popular with the public. By the late 1970s, electronic dance music was developing. This music, made using electronics, is a style of popular music commonly played in dance music nightclubs, radio stations, shows and raves. Many subgenres of electronic dance music have evolved.

Dance music works often bear the name of the corresponding dance, e.g. waltzes, the tango, the bolero, the can-can, minuets, salsa, various kinds of jigs and the breakdown. Other dance forms include contradance, the merengue (Dominican Republic), and the cha-cha-cha. Often it is difficult to know whether the name of the music came first or the name of the dance. Electronic dance music experienced a boom after the proliferation of personal computers in the 1980s, manifest in the dance element of Tony Wilson’s Haçienda scene (in Manchester) and London clubs like Delirium, The Trip, and Shoom. The ongoing influence of Shoom can be seen in its 25th anniversary party, held at Cable Nightclub on 8 December 2012, which sold out in four days. The scene rapidly expanded to the Summer Of Love in Ibiza, which became the European capital of house and trance. Clubs like Sundissential and Manumission became household names with British, German and Italian tourists. Many music genres that made use of electronic instruments developed into contemporary styles mainly due to the MIDI protocol, which enabled computers, synthesizers, sound cards, samplers, and drum machines to interact with each other and achieve the full synchronization of sounds. Electronic dance music is typically composed using computers and synthesizers, and rarely has any physical instruments. Instead, this is replaced by digital or electronic sounds, with a 4/4 beat. Many producers of this kind of music however, such as Darren Tate and MJ Cole, were trained in classical music before they moved into the electronic medium.