Musicians Guide to Disco Music
The image of Disco is forever immortalized in the Saturday Night Fever movie poster as John Travolta struck the famous 'disco pose'. The film glamorized the disco culture as an era where leisure-suit clad men danced their way from one discotheque to another, looking for romantic adventure. Disco received its name from these clubs that played nothing but dance music, with or without lyrics.
Disco made extensive use of the rhythm guitar, as well as synthesizers. But often disco used an eclectic mix, like in ‘A Fifth of Beethoven’ by Walter Murphy (a disco version of the classical masterpiece, with a much faster tempo). It was not uncommon for a disco LP record to have an entire side devoted to one song, for disco’s mission was to keep the beat constantly going and in motion.
Its style was conceived from traditional African-American genres such as R&B, funk, and soul, yet record companies would market disco for any person of any race. There were many disco stars, such as Donna Summer (‘Hot Stuff’), CHIC (‘Le Freak’), and The Village People (‘YMCA’), whose songs are anthems of the disco era. Disco peaked with the Saturday Night Fever film, and its soundtrack made the Bee Gees into instant disco stars. Around this time, many rock and roll artists who would not normally do disco did their songs in the disco style, including the Rolling Stones, The Eagles, KISS, even Dolly Parton.
Many have said that disco has since been a ‘dead’ genre of music that ended some time along with the seventies. Yet its use of electronic music and constant dance beat never died along with it, and its influence clearly has survived with hip hop, and even alternative.