The Genre of Dance Music Instrumental

Dance music instrumental is a genre composed entirely of instrumental compositions without vocals, commonly heard at dance clubs, radio broadcasts, shows and raves.

Modern dance music emerged during the late 19th century from Western ballroom and social dance music, giving rise to an abundance of styles that often bear the name of their associated dance form.


Dance music instrumental’s origins can be difficult to trace. While evidence of dancing and music dates back centuries (for instance Ancient Greek vases show dancing people accompanied by musicians), its modern forms began emerging primarily during medieval Europe with staff-based notation used by composers to break their beats into bars so dancers could keep time with the rhythm – leading to dance styles like pas de deux and polonaise that remain popular today.

Renaissance dance music featured instruments such as the lute, viola, tabor and pipe; its primary dance styles were noble court dances such as courante, sarabande and minuet that were typically collected into dance suites. Later emerged the gigue as an upbeat baroque dance with compound meters similar to those found in British folk music; its style can also be found among traditional musicians of that era.

Disco was a widely popular form of dance music during the late 1970s and 1980s, featuring elements like drum machines and synthesized vocals. Later in this decade, electronic dance music emerged, becoming known for looping and segueing techniques used in its performance.

Early electronic dance music consisted of drum machines and keyboard synthesizers. A classic example is “On and On”, released by Chicago DJ Jesse Saunders and co-writer Vince Lawrence in 1984; its 4/4 rhythm with off-beat hi-hats was groundbreaking for the new genre of house music; later on Chicago DJ Frankie Knuckles coined this term after witnessing a sign at a club which read “We Play House Music”.

Modern culture embraces dance music in various forms such as nightclubs, shows and raves. Though not meant as a replacement for live performance, dance music often works well when combined with performers to heighten the experience. Dancers consider dance music an integral component of their practice as they seek out its synergistic relationship between music, movement and the mind/spirit connection.


Dance instrumental genres are diverse. Some can be upbeat like drum and bass, jungle, techno, breakbeat and UK garage while others may be more subdued such as ambient, dubstep, electronica and industrial music. Many styles fall under multiple subgenres that overlap, like rock, pop jazz and funk music – many DJs use DJ mixes to seamlessly transition between one track to another recording.

Other dance music instrumental styles include neoclassical music, which blends classical elements with contemporary sensibilities; and shoegaze music from My Bloody Valentine that features swirling landscapes of distorted guitars and melancholy vocals that can be both cathartic and ethereal. Classical composers such as Ludovico Einaudi and Max Richter have created mesmerizing pieces of music which elicit a range of emotions, from tranquility to melancholy.

Rock-and-roll instrumentals have become immensely popular since the 1950s. Two prominent examples are rhythm and blues (rock and roll) and soul music, both spanning back to their origins in African-Caribbean influences combined with jazz, American styles like ska and rocksteady as well as Jamaican influences like calypso, mento and calypso with elements from jazz, jump blues and rhythm and blues; rock and roll is further influenced by country and folk music genres.

Classical music suites refer to collections of short compositions grouped together and performed to represent certain dance or movement forms, such as minuet, scherzo and polonaise. Although originally intended to accompany dance performances, suites have since become widely-popular as stand-alone musical pieces.

Symphonys, operas and cantatas are long instrumental works that typically combine vocalists or orchestral instruments with long instrumental pieces arranged traditionally. Other classical genres include serenades, concertos, fantasias and sonatas; cantatas were created between 17th-18th century as voice/instrument compositions while popular classical genres include the rondo and aria.


Over the history of Western music, many different types of dance music have been composed. Each one differs in terms of musical structure and purpose, but all are designed for one purpose – social dancing. Although this form may be less formal than concert performances, musicians need to employ both technique and energy when performing for dancers who expect music that’s easy for them to follow yet energetic enough to fuel them through dancing.

Many dance music genres have adopted elements from other forms. Acid house blends elements from acid rock with techno and 4/4 rhythm. Other influences include big beat, which was born out of fast-paced variations of breakbeat and is composed of elements such as reggae and dancehall music, alongside acid basslines that come from acid house.

Ballads, with their slow and emotive music, have also long been used as accompaniment for dance. Sung usually by male voices, ballads often contain lyrics about love or loss that convey emotional content – often related to other dance movements such as polonaise (Germany), courante (France), sarabande (Spain), or gigue (England).

Some classical pieces were composed specifically with dance in mind. This could range from variations over a particular melody or bass line, through improvisational works in continuous imitative counterpoint such as the ritornello, fugue and capriccio to toccata and passacaglia pieces from Bach and Handel composers who would often arrange them into suites that allow each movement to lead seamlessly to another.

Contemporary forms of dance music frequently incorporate styles from other genres, such as rap or hip hop, reggae, soul and jazz into their soundscape. Sometimes these fusions address social issues in African-American communities while others can have spiritual components like gospel music or Christian pop.

Dance music can also be performed by large orchestras in concerts and ballet performances, although dance orchestras vary significantly from regular orchestras as they use different instruments that provide greater synchronicity; dance orchestras typically consist of string and wind instruments with less dynamic range compared to brass or woodwind instruments.


Dance music is typically designed to be accessible and enjoyable by people with minimal dancing experience, making the structure of dance pieces easy for anyone to appreciate. These pieces usually consist of repetitive rhythmically-based melodies with steady beats that are easy to follow throughout a piece, providing predictability in social dance music pieces as sudden changes may cause people to lose their way and their place on the floor. When changing instrumentations gradually is preferable in order not to interrupt its flow and disrupt its melody.

Rhythm and meter play an equally integral role in dance music. A basic dance music rhythm involves four beats per bar (also known as measures) with one short note followed by two long ones. Each beat corresponds with instruments such as kick drum, snare/bass guitar or hi-hat that should keep their beat and rhythm steady so dancers can maintain their places on the floor.

Dance music tends to be shorter than other musical compositions such as sonatas and symphonies because its purpose is listening in context of dancing; therefore shorter pieces make it easier to fit within that setting.

There are exceptions, however. Impromptus are short, free-form performances which often provide performer with considerable expressive freedom and provide them with ample room to express themselves.

Song structures and formats vary based on genre. For instance, dance music will typically feature different beats and rhythms than pop or rock tracks, and vice versa for length of songs that correspond directly with them.

Producing dance music typically includes an intro and outro. The intro typically lasts 8 bars while the outro features slowly fading elements to make DJing easier on dance floors. Most dance songs utilize 16-bar segments as their core structure allowing producers to easily reference genre-specific tracks to determine how best to structure their tracks.