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Deep House Music Guide

Written by on 30/04/2023

What Is Deep House Music?

Deep House music is an electronic music genre derived from Chicago house music. Deep house tracks combine the pulsing four-on-the-floor signature beat of traditional house music with harmonies and basslines inspired by jazz and funk. Compared to standard house music, Deep House is also more likely to feature vocals.

The origin of Deep House music traces back to the song “Mystery of Love,” released by Larry Heard in 1985 under the stage name Mr. Fingers. The groovy, funk-inspired track stood out from other electronic dance music and would inspire subsequent deep house songs. While the original deep house artists recorded their songs on records, emerging deep house producers now routinely post tracks to online streaming playlists. They continue to grow the genre as it enters its fourth decade of existence.

Characteristics of Deep House Music

The Deep House sound contains elements found in all house music and elements that are unique to the subgenre.

Four on the floor: Deep house music is always played with a 4/4 time signature and uses a steady four-on-the-floor quarter-note kick drum pattern. This pattern is common in subgenres of house music from acid house to progressive house to tech house.

Danceable tempos: Deep house music tends to be played between 110 to 125 beats per minute (BPM) a natural dance floor tempo.

Funk, soul, and jazz influence: Beginning with early Deep House tracks by Larry “Mr. Fingers” Heard, the style has emulated 1970s funk and soul music. In some cases, it even features synth pads playing the seventh chords, ninth chords, and thirteenth chords that are idiomatic to jazz.

Roland synthesizers: Many of the best deep house tracks bear the distinctive mark of 1980s Roland synthesizers—particularly the TR-909 drum machine and the Juno-60 and Jupiter-6 keyboard synths.

House Music vs. Deep House Music: What’s the Difference?

Deep House music is a subgenre of house music. Standard house is often called Chicago house music, due to its origins in the Windy City in the early 1980s. There, DJ Frankie Knuckles sometimes called the “godfather of house” used Roland TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines to create steady four-on-the-floor kick drum beats that he built songs around. The term “house music” comes from the fact that these machines allowed DJs to create tracks at home without the use of an expensive studio.

DJ Larry Heard created the deep house sound under the name Mr. Fingers. On tracks like “Can You Feel It?” and “Mystery of Love,” he injected the flair of 1970s soul and funk into the steady propulsive beat of standard Chicago house. Marshall Jefferson also helped shape the deep house subgenre with 1986’s “Move Your Body.” Like other house artists, Marshall Jefferson and Mr. Fingers released tracks on the legendary Trax record label.

Notable Deep House Artists

In their heyday, many deep house artists ranked among the most popular in all of dance music. DJs played their songs in the dance clubs of Chicago, New York, London, and Ibiza alongside standard house, dubstep, Detroit techno, EDM, and hip-hop.

Larry Heard (Mr. Fingers): Critics and music historians often cite Heard as the originator of Deep House music thanks to his 1985 track, “Mystery of Love.”

Marshall Jefferson: Jefferson was a deep house pioneer, and his 1986 song “Move Your Body” inspired countless deep house artists to follow.

Kerri Chandler: Chandler is notable for coming of age in New York and New Jersey, rather than Chicago. He scored a 1991 hit with “SuperLover / Get It Off.”

Theo Parrish: Parrish grew up in Chicago where he immersed himself in the house music scene. He is known for mixing soul, funk, and disco obscurities from the 1970s into his productions.

Fred Everything: Fred Everything is a French-Canadian deep house producer who helped bring the style beyond US borders.

Armand van Helden: Van Helden was born in Boston but traveled extensively as a child on account of his father’s Air Force career. This helped him acquire a range of international influences, which he infuses into his version of deep house music.