Turn Up The Bass: An In-Depth Analysis of Dance Music in New York City’s Underground Clubs: 1969-1987
Author: Bjorn Klein
Paperback: 272 pages
First Edition: July 2017
It’s all about the beat in Bjorn Klein’s new book about music history’s most exciting era of underground dance music culture. Klein digs deep into the sexy code of the DJ’s music, and expertly demystifies the sound of New York City’s most notorious underground clubs in the 1970s. As strings and synthesizers whirl around frantically, as the bass guitar sends out funky waves of electrifying vibrations and as the beat of the bass drum spurs you on relentlessly, you step by step gain a more profound understanding of the elements of early dance floor music.
Today we take remixing, DJ culture and dance club culture for granted. They have become an inextricable part of the modern urban scene and music’s mainstream pop-culture. However, it was only a few decades ago when early DJs broke new territory with what they were doing. Hidden away in obscure underground clubs in New York City back in the late 1960s/early 1970s, dancefloor music and the DJ were regarded nothing more but strange novelties belonging to a thriving subculture that was yet too small to be noticed.
Turn Up The Bass is a book about this new genre of dance floor music that emerged from the DJs’ turntable experimentations in underground clubs in New York City between the late 1960s and early 1980s. Exhaustively researched, the author walks us through the pioneering days of a fresh, new musical style. In the first part of the book, Klein examines the complex interaction of music, dancers and DJ, sheds light on how technical developments and new DJing techniques influenced the formation of a new, distinct style, and how the art of remixing, new recording formats and the establishment of record pools all of a sudden turned the DJ into one of the most important figures in the music industry, who had the power to shape the musical taste of millions.
In the second part of Turn Up The Bass, Klein breaks down the sound of New York City’s dance clubs into every single element and thus allows us a glimpse into how the DJ makes our bodies move. What musical characteristics define underground dance music recordings? What are the musical roots of underground dance music recordings? What instruments are used? How are they used? What is the formal musical structure of dance floor songs? How do dance floor songs of that time work with the concepts of tension-release and musical spacing? More than 50 transcribed examples of music and references to corresponding audio tracks make it easy for the reader to follow Klein’s astute observations. An essential read for students and lovers of popular music.
“Turn Up The Bass provides an extraordinary glimpse into the world of New York City’s underground dance music scene. With professional ease, Bjorn Klein captures the essence of the DJ’s music, which comes to life in a series of easy-to-follow analyses and more than 50 transcribed examples of music. As Klein guides us through the DJ’s early turntable experimentations, he spins a fascinating web of musical, social, technological and historical perspectives. The book offers a comprehensive overview of the aesthetic qualities of the music itself, while describing how the musical aesthetics, as well as particular modes of production and instrumental techniques represent definite elements of sociopolitical action. An excellent read!”
– DR. MICHAEL RAPPE, PROFESSOR OF THEORY & HISTORY OF POPULAR MUSIC, COLOGNE UNIVERSITY OF MUSIC AND DANCE
“With this book, Bjorn Klein has published a study that is just as fundamentally sound as it is easy to understand. A spirited and riveting read that brings together academic insight and jaw dropping revelations in a seamless manner.”
– DR. JEREMY LEMARIE, SOCIOLOGY LECTURER AT PANTHEON-SORBONNE UNIVERSITY, PARIS 1
“Inside the musician’s head. Entertaining and revealing! Turn Up The Bass will have you literally crank up the volume of your stereo while reading Bjorn Klein’s brilliant analysis of dance music.”
– SEBASTIAN MULLER, B.M., BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC AND GUITARIST OF COLONEL PETROV’S GOOD JUDGEMENT
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