Evolution of Deep House



Early deep house music began in the mid-1980s with a simplistic and quantized (robotic) feel. Producers like Larry Heard (Mr Fingers) and Marshall Jefferson, who are considered deep house pioneers, gave the genre its human touch by infusing jazz elements with deep bass lines. This richness became the sound of deep house and opened up a new world of musical possibilities for a genre that, at the time, still lacked sufficient musicality it needed to become popular.




Deep house is basically a combination of a warm Philly Soul instrumentation playing jazz chords on a slow-breathing rhythmic loop. From an arrangement perspective, deep house, like all early house music, has its roots in disco, which itself originated from Philly soul. The use of uncommon chords in deep house comes straight from jazz music, where 7ths, 9ths, 13ths, sus, and alt chords reign supreme.




Deep house offers a relaxed, groovy brand of house music. Most music relies on a payoff (either a chorus or a drop) to keep its audience interested; deep house skips the payoff in favour of a hypnotic, breathing cycle that subtly builds and releases energy. For that reason, you don’t really listen to deep house, you feel it. With muted basslines, jazzy chords, soft pads, soulful vocals and a slower rhythm (typically 110-125 bpm), deep house is the musical embodiment of cool intimacy.



Chicago, 1986


Deep house finds its sound with “Can You Feel It” by Mr. Fingers.



Amsterdam, 1990


Dream 2 Science preserves deep house’s disco-funk roots with their self-titled album.



Chicago, 1996


A'ba-Cus releases the mesmerizing “The Earthly Pleasures EP” combining jazz, blues, funk, and deep house.



London, 1997


Deep house gets physical with Faze Action’s “In the Trees” using real instruments.



Berlin, 2007


Phonique releases "Space Cruise" with Gui Boratto and wins Best Deep House DJ at the 2008 DJ Awards.



Durban, 2015


Black Coffee releases "Pieces of Me", winning Album of the Year at the South Africa Music Awards.



Sydney, 2016


Rüfüs Du Sol embraces the bittersweet side of deep house with "Innerbloom".



San Francisco, 2018


Zhu channels the healing properties of the desert through Ringos Desert LP.



Los Angeles, 2019


Odd Riddance brushes up against trance with his very groovy and easy going tune "Vari Color".



Evolution of House Music

Check out our 31-part series, starting with an overview of house music's 40-year history.

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