How music travels: charting the evolution of western dance music
November 15, 2011 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Interactive info graphic: 100 years1 of western2 dance3 music, as it has grown and migrated around the world.

Background, and a large static version.

1 The map goes back to 1800 for older traditional, folk and religious music, and extends beyond the year 2000
2 While focusing on the western world, the map includes links from Africa and India
3 Genres go back to include things that have influenced modern dance music, so jazz, blues, rock & roll and such are included in the map
posted by filthy light thief (24 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I wish the animation ran 10x slower - it's really hard to follow all the arrows. I've been practically single-stepping it through, finger on the pause button.

The map shows the evolution of top level dance genres only, and does not delve into all possible sub-genres.

Haha, for sure. But for that there's always Ishkur's Guide.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:14 AM on November 15, 2011

Mars Saxman: there's always Ishkur's Guide

Which is best read with a bit of skepticism and a critical eye.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:16 AM on November 15, 2011

Blues -> Jazz: OK
Traditional African Music -> Jazz: Sure
American Marching Band -> Jazz: ....because of the trumpets?
posted by DU at 11:18 AM on November 15, 2011

I hope that 'dubstep' isn't the last word in western dance music.
posted by bestfreesurgery at 11:19 AM on November 15, 2011

There's a massive dose of traditional Jewish music in Jazz pretty much from the moment it first hits NY City.

American Marching Band -> Jazz: ....because of the trumpets?

Sousa was actually quite an early proponent of ragtime and, ultimately, jazz. His orchestra was one of the first to bring ragtime to European audiences, for example. And there's quite a lot of brass-band march music lurking in the background of dixieland jazz.
posted by yoink at 11:29 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Very neat. It does move a bit too fast as an animation.
posted by OmieWise at 11:39 AM on November 15, 2011

All javascript! Very nice.....
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 11:44 AM on November 15, 2011

Nothing neat happens after 1925.
posted by The White Hat at 11:48 AM on November 15, 2011

bestfreesurgery: "I hope that 'dubstep' isn't the last word in western dance music."

Which one? The moody, ambient electronica from London, or the bass-heavy American hiphop-techno that gets played at frat par--BOWWOWOWOWMPWOMPWOMWOMWOMWOMWOMWOMP--ties?

I call the second one 'Brostep,' simply because I don't like it when people overwrite already-existing genres with completely different music.

It's almost become a parody of itself -- take a normal song, interrupt it for 30 seconds with the heaviest and most distorted bass loop that you can find, and voila! Brostep!
posted by schmod at 12:44 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Schmod is dead on about American bro-step.

Nu-disco, which is rooted in both house and disco, but tends to be slower than house (100-115 bpm) and downplays the more brash aspects of disco, seems to be a nice newish take on things that have been around for awhile (as was dub step - very little is ever truly "new") that's gaining, slowly, in popularity.
posted by flaterik at 1:04 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

flaterik, well, personally I'd say both. I wouldn't want either to be the last word in western dance music. But this chart puts dubstep in the UK, so I guess you've got to assume they weren't talking American dubstep, or brostep, or dubstream, or whatever.
posted by bestfreesurgery at 2:20 PM on November 15, 2011

Yeah, well, I most certainly agree that I hope neither is the last word! I hold out for dance music with a vestige of funk, myself...
posted by flaterik at 2:24 PM on November 15, 2011

I feel this is missing the massive import of house into Europe from the US and the re-export back to the US shores. Really great classic house going on at the moment. We've taken it and doing it back at you ;)
posted by Lleyam at 2:36 PM on November 15, 2011

It's like War Games.
posted by Hubajube at 3:26 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is a really fun infographic. I guess everyone will have minor quibbles -- that's how these things go -- and perhaps mine is that they haven't included the groundbreaking German ambient music of the 70s, which although often beatless and not especially danceable gave rise to a lot of the soundscapes you find in electronic music of all kinds today. But regardless, there's a lot to digest here, and it's presented in a really cool way.

Oh, and I'd certainly say that dubstep has some funk going on. It's a highly varied genre. It has pretty much everything going on.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 3:56 PM on November 15, 2011

yeah, I often bemoan the fact that there IS funky dub step, it's just nowhere to be found at the events that have made me sick to death of the genre and go back to mostly house music parties, because even though I love to have more variety, it's a genre I know I'm gonna dance to.

(run-on sentence is a genre that i'm a master of)

That boxcutter track is pretty sweet, thanks! it reminds me of when i first started hearing dub step and loved dancing to it...
posted by flaterik at 4:09 PM on November 15, 2011

One of the recommendations from the Boxcutter track was Kingdom's "YOU", which blends all kinds of madness together (UK dubstep and garage, oldskool hardcore sounds and FX, and more that I cannot describe). It's a b-side (of sorts) to the Mind Reader EP. The title track is another kind of wickedness. The labels he's on are good if you like this stuff (Night Slugs and Fool's Gold, though the former is more cohesive than the latter).
posted by filthy light thief at 4:46 PM on November 15, 2011

Those Kingdom songs are great, thanks! I'm going to have to check out more of his stuff. Does that fall into the garage genre? I have such a hard time keeping track of all of the genres and subgenres in UK dance music. I don't know much about garage, but I've been enjoying the new album by Zed Bias. Some good stuff there.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 8:28 PM on November 15, 2011

American Marching Band -> Jazz: ....because of the trumpets?

I have seen a presentation that C. Daniel Dawson (I think, there's a chance it was T. J. Desch Obi, they were talking at the same event in LA) gave a couple of years ago describing the influence of African culture in the USA. A note was how the drum major had been changed from a very static marching job to a dynamic explosive and acrobatic dancing. I can't comment on the path of the music, but if African influence went into the marching bands via the drum major (maybe he was talking about the traditionally black colleges?) then the kids who were in the marching bands were probably, some of them anyway, musicians later in life. Being black, being in the USA, I can see a case for the influence.

My question about the chart is where is Brazil? E.g. "deep house" that I've heard is just a samba drum sample with a low pass filter and some other beats on top.
posted by simtel20 at 10:49 PM on November 15, 2011

There's some deep house with a samba beat, mostly via "afrobeat", but most of it doesn't, so I'd say the influence of Brazilian music in that chart is subsumed by the (huge) African influence, since that's also the root of Samba.

House is almost exclusively 4/4, to boot (not that you can't mix 2/4 and 4/4, but there's a difference). There's huge variety even within the loosely defined subgenre of "deep house", which is usually more defined by jazziness er, uh... deepness. It's, uh, hard to put into words.

Like porn.

(deep house is my favorite kind of dance music by a fairly wide margin)
posted by flaterik at 12:24 AM on November 16, 2011

Oh, and I put afrobeat in quotes, because there seems to be a subset of dance music that assumes that moniker but is separate from things directly descended from Fela Kuti. I'm willing to bet there are people more versed in the history than me that could explain it better... I just listen to a crap ton of dance music and try to pay some vague sort of attention to give respect to those that came before.
posted by flaterik at 12:29 AM on November 16, 2011

Pretty, clever, and chock full 'o wrong.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:20 AM on November 17, 2011

Frobenius Twist: Those Kingdom songs are great, thanks! I'm going to have to check out more of his stuff. Does that fall into the garage genre?

I listened to a bunch of Kingdom this morning, and TBH, I don't know what to call it. Looking over the Wikipedia definition for UK Funky, that might be the best fit.

NOTE: I borked the title track link in my prior comment. Here's the proper link (HTTP:// missing on the first go).
posted by filthy light thief at 1:54 PM on November 17, 2011

I hope that 'dubstep' isn't the last word in western dance music.

Done 5 years ago 'electro-house' would have been the last word.. a few years before that, 2-step garage, a few years before that, trance.

Give it another couple of years and the thing after dubstep will be there.
posted by empath at 9:44 PM on November 19, 2011

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