Dance Music Types

Dance music encompasses an abundance of styles. Funk and disco have given way to new jack swing, techno and trance – there is truly no end to its variety!

Dancehall often features catchy beats and grooves that get people moving, along with structured arrangements designed to increase energy on the dance floor.


Funk music fuses elements from soul, rhythm and blues and jazz into one genre, emphasizing creating a groove with electric bass and drums that emphasizes rhythmic syncopations for an intoxicating groove effect. Funk also often includes richly-colored extended chords characteristic of jazz.

Funk’s roots can be traced back to the mid-1960s when James Brown created his signature sound. Brown emphasized the downbeat with heavy emphasis on each bar’s first beat and used 16th notes and syncopation throughout all his basslines, drum patterns and guitar riffs. Brown’s innovations inspired numerous musical groups who adopted funk music into their lifestyles such as Sly and Family Stone, Kool & Gang, Ohio Players, The Meters Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band Prince Rick James as well as George Clinton/Parliament-Funkadelic.

By the 1980s, funk had evolved into Disco and R&B while remaining at its heart of most dance music of that era. Later revived by hip-hop artists as sources of inspiration and samples. Nowadays, however, its sounds continue to echo across musical landscapes – Jay-Z frequently references funk while Outkast make use of its sound samples in their music.

Funk may be synonymous with party scenes, but its music was also used as a form of social commentary and positive messages. Funk was an outlet for those fed up with oppressive or corrupt governments to express themselves freely while at the same time spreading joy of living and keeping fun alive in society.

Modern funk is often heavily influenced by hip hop and electronic dance music, and places an emphasis on its signature 4/4 beat. Synthesizers often replace traditional instruments in modern funk music for an avant-garde or commercial sound; you might hear experimental, avant-garde tracks or commercial hits with it. You might hear styles like Boogie (a hybrid between funk and disco); G-Funk (an amalgamation of rap funk); or Timba, which originates in Cuba as part of Cuban musical culture derived from modern funk music.


Disco music brought dancing back into popular culture thanks to DJs who blended soul, funk and pop music together at nightclubs. Early disco songs featured four-on-the-floor patterns with 16th note hi-hat patterns and prominent bass lines; additional instruments included horn sections, electric pianos and rhythm guitars. Disco is often credited with inspiring other dance styles like hip-hop and house music by showing how these genres could work together seamlessly.

After the success of Saturday Night Fever and its soundtrack in 1977, disco became a mainstream musical trend. Many non-disco artists recorded songs with disco elements such as Rod Stewart’s 1979 track “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?.” Progressive rock group Pink Floyd even included disco-inspired drum and bass sections in one song from their 1979 album Pink Floyd II entitled “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2.”

At its height, disco enjoyed wide appeal among both African American and white audiences – one reason it survived for such a long period. Furthermore, disco also fostered cross-racial relationships among people who may otherwise not dance together and inspired a whole new generation of DJs to take over clubs across America.

As disco was more complex than four-piece band sounds of funk or soul music or small jazz organ trios of the 1960s, its production was more expensive. While simple rhythm of funk or soul songs could be produced quickly in a studio session band setting with chordal instruments (guitar, keyboards and synthesizers), drum kit with African or Latin percussion and electronic drums, as well as horn section and strings orchestrary accompaniment was required for creating its sound.

After disco’s demise, dance music shifted toward electronica via hi-NRG; its characteristics included faster tempos, synthesized effects and simplified backgrounds; this form was closely tied to hip-hop and its harder offshoot techno but wasn’t as popular among younger audiences compared to funk and disco styles that could be danced freely; moreover it created backlash against nightclub culture perceived as places where sexual and drug abuse went hand-in-hand.

New Jack Swing

Chances are if you enjoy music of any sort, you have come across New Jack Swing at one point or another in your life and been moved to dance to its tunes. Although New Jack Swing did not last as long as Northern Soul and Miami Bass before it, its influence can still be heard today; its short lifespan encroached upon today’s dance music genres but never reached classic status; its peak popularity came during the late 1980s but is now only remembered as an embarrassing footnote in Black music’s history.

Teddy Riley recognized early on the potential of merging elements of R&B, hip hop and funk into one cohesive sound during the 80s; he initially produced for hip hop acts such as Slick Rick and Kool Moe Dee using Prince’s Minneapolis sound to craft smooth R&B hits before adding turntable scratching and percussive beats from hip hop into his productions – creating what became known as New Jack Swing.

Janet Jackson, Bobby Brown and Boyz II Men were quickly among those to embrace this sound and it quickly dominated charts with funky dance songs with catchy hooks and an irresistibly danceable feel. Additionally, artists were starting to appear on television shows such as The Arsenio Hall Show to further broaden their audience reach.

New Jack Swing music can be identified by smooth vocals with gospel-influenced harmonies over funk, R&B, and hip hop instrumentations. These songs are meant to make you feel good about yourself; great for dancing; often feature lyrics about love, happiness, or positive energy.

As trends and styles continually change, it’s crucial to be informed on all of the different dance music genres that have had an influence on modern musical culture. From funk to disco and EDM to go-go swinging new jack swinging; each musical genre has helped shape our modern musical tastes today.


House dance music, similar to disco and funk before it, is an upbeat electronic genre characterized by four-to-the-floor beats, synthesizer riffs, disco, funk and soul elements, and close ties to EDM (Electronic Dance Music). House music belongs in this category while EDM (Electronic Dance Music) encompasses more diverse musical styles than house.

House music originated in Chicago during the early 1980s under the direction of DJ Frankie Knuckles at Warehouse nightclub. House is distinguished by a 4/4 rhythm comprised of Roland TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines that create an offbeat, hi-hats on offbeats, snare drums and claps; its beat can range between 120 to 130 beats per minute with added hi-hats on offbeats, snare drums and claps to augment it further; deep basslines provide support while synthesizer-generated riffs create its tempo; often this rhythm can also feature vocal samples, whether spoken, spoken or sampled;

House genre dance music includes progressive house, tech house and electrohouse. Progressive house adds classical elements such as string sections and piano to its composition; techno and electrohouse also often contain classical influences alongside genres like rock, rap or pop music.

Trance music is often associated with house, but is actually much larger subgenre of Electronic Dance Music (EDM). Characterized by dramatic breakdowns and mesmerizing melodies, trance draws heavily upon other genres like progressive house, psychedelic trance and synthesizer pop to form its soundscape.

Hardhouse (UK hard house) is a subgenre of house music that first gained traction at London’s Trade Club during the 1990s. This form combines driving Eurodance beats with aggressive bass stabs and dark beats at breakneck speed for an energetic dance experience, making this genre the perfect soundtrack to club culture worldwide.