Dance Music of the 1970s: What is Disco Music?
Disco Music Explained
Disco music is a genre of dance music popular in the late 1960s through the late 1970s. It’s a blend of soul music and funk that was initially popular In New York City, New York and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with the black, Latino, gay, and psychedelic club-going communities.
The music is set to 4/4 time. This mean that there are four beats to each measure of music, and the quarter note gets one beat. It also means that the music is very easy to dance to.
Disco music included vocals with a high degree of reverberation. The music often had a full orchestral sound. There were horn and string sections in addition to the bass guitars, five-string non-bass guitars, and drums used by most groups of the day.
Disco hit its peak in 1977 when the film Saturday Night Fever was released. The film, starring John Travolta, Karen Lynn Gorney, and Donna Pescow was about the disco movement. The movie’s soundtrack was recorded by the Bee Gees—the Brothers Gibb—Barry, Robin, and Maurice.
The film helped popularize the music, dancing, clothing, and lifestyle of the era. The soundtrack, the second most popular movie soundtrack of all time, caused the disco sound to travel worldwide.
The soundtrack was number one on the album charts for 24 straight weeks beginning in January 1978. It's the only disco album to have won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
One of the most popular Bee Gees songs in Saturday Night Fever was Staying Alive, with Barry Gibb singing lead in his falsetto voice.
This is a vintage 1977 video—viewed more than 18 million times—of the Bee Gees singing Staying Alive. It was produced by Warner Brothers Music.
Disco Music Hits
Artist or Group
Knock on Wood
Can Get Enough of Your Love
Jive Talkin, You Should be Dancin, Staying Alive
Heart of Glass
Bad Girls, Last Dance, MacArthur Park, Hot Stuff
Earth, Wind and Fire
I Will Survive, Never Can Say Goodbye
Rock the Boat
KC and the Sunshine Band
(Shake Shake Shake) Shake Your Booty, That’s the Way (I Like It)
Do Ya Think I’m Sexy
We Are Family
Don’t Leave Me This Way
Vicki Sue Robinson
Turn the Beat Around
YMCA, Macho Man
There were several dances in the 1970s that generically were known as “the hustle.” One was a choreographed line dance popular in clubs worldwide when Van McCoy’s song The Hustle was played.
The inmates of Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in Cebu, Cebu Province, Philippines, a maximum security prison, perform the Hustle in the following video.
LaDonna Adrian Gaines (December 3, 1948 to May 17, 2012), known to the world as Donna Summer, was a singer-songwriter from Boston, Massachusetts who became known as the Queen of Disco.
The video which follows show Donna Summer singing Last Dance at a concert in 1978.
Born in Newark, New Jersey on September 7, 1949, Gloria Gaynor is a singer-songwriter still actively performing today who is best known for her disco hits of the 1970s.
The video which follows shows Gloria Gaynor performing I Will Survive in 1979.