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Deep House Music: The Full Guide

Deep house music, a subgenre of house music, is characterized by its rich textures, soulful vocals, and complex chord structures. Since its inception in the 1980s, it has evolved significantly, influencing numerous artists and spawning countless subgenres. This article delves into the various facets of deep house music, its development, and the most influential artists in the genre.

Origins of Deep House

Deep house music originated in the mid-1980s in Chicago, Illinois, as a fusion of jazz-funk, soul, and the burgeoning house music scene. The genre was heavily influenced by the musical styles of Larry Heard (Mr. Fingers), whose tracks such as „Can You Feel It“ and „Mystery of Love“ are considered seminal works. Heard’s music was marked by its lush, emotive soundscapes and complex melodies, setting the foundation for what would become known as deep house.

Another key figure in the early development of deep house was Marshall Jefferson, whose track „Move Your Body“ incorporated piano riffs and a more polished production style, further distinguishing deep house from its parent genre, house music. The emphasis on melody, harmony, and atmosphere became the defining characteristics of deep house.

Musical Characteristics

Deep house is known for its slower tempo compared to other house music genres, typically ranging from 110 to 125 beats per minute. The music often features complex chord progressions, smooth basslines, and a focus on creating a deep, immersive atmosphere. Unlike the repetitive and high-energy nature of traditional house music, deep house aims to evoke emotions and provide a more relaxed listening experience.

Vocals play a significant role in deep house, often featuring soulful and introspective lyrics. These vocals are usually layered with reverb and other effects to blend seamlessly with the music. Additionally, deep house tracks frequently incorporate elements of jazz, funk, and soul, such as jazzy chord structures, syncopated rhythms, and lush string arrangements.

Evolution and Subgenres

Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, deep house continued to evolve, influenced by advancements in music production technology and the cross-pollination of different musical styles. The advent of digital audio workstations (DAWs) and synthesizers allowed producers to experiment with new sounds and textures, leading to the development of various subgenres within deep house.

Progressive House

In the early 1990s, progressive house emerged as a subgenre, blending the melodic elements of deep house with the driving rhythms of techno. Artists like Sasha and John Digweed became synonymous with this sound, known for their epic, evolving tracks that built up over long periods, creating a hypnotic and immersive experience.

Tech House

Tech house is another subgenre that developed in the 1990s, combining the soulful elements of deep house with the minimalistic and mechanical aspects of techno. This genre places a strong emphasis on groove and rhythm, with artists like Steve Lawler and Terry Francis leading the way. Tech house has since become one of the most popular forms of house music, known for its dancefloor-friendly appeal.

Future House

Future house, a more recent subgenre, gained popularity in the 2010s. It blends the deep, soulful elements of deep house with more upbeat and energetic sounds. Artists like Oliver Heldens and Tchami are credited with pioneering this style, characterized by its bouncy basslines and catchy melodies.

Notable Artists

Several artists have played a crucial role in shaping and popularizing deep house music over the years. Here are some of the most influential figures in the genre:

Larry Heard (Mr. Fingers)

Larry Heard, also known as Mr. Fingers, is often regarded as one of the pioneers of deep house music. His tracks „Can You Feel It“ and „Mystery of Love“ are timeless classics that continue to influence new generations of producers. Heard’s ability to blend soulful melodies with complex rhythms and emotive soundscapes set the standard for deep house music.

Kerri Chandler

Kerri Chandler is another seminal figure in deep house, known for his deep, soulful sound and impeccable production skills. Tracks like „Rain“ and „Atmosphere“ showcase his ability to create immersive and emotive music. Chandler’s influence extends beyond his own productions, as he has mentored numerous up-and-coming artists in the genre.


Moodymann, a Detroit-based producer, has been a significant influence on the deep house scene since the 1990s. His music often incorporates elements of jazz, funk, and soul, creating a unique and eclectic sound. Tracks like „I Can’t Kick This Feeling When It Hits“ and „Shades of Jae“ are quintessential examples of his style.

Maya Jane Coles

Maya Jane Coles is a contemporary deep house artist who has garnered widespread acclaim for her innovative productions and DJ sets. Her debut album „Comfort“ and tracks like „What They Say“ have solidified her status as a leading figure in the genre. Coles‘ music is characterized by its deep, dark atmospheres and intricate sound design.


Disclosure, the British duo consisting of brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, has played a pivotal role in bringing deep house to a mainstream audience. Their debut album „Settle“ features tracks like „Latch“ and „White Noise,“ which blend deep house elements with pop sensibilities. Disclosure’s success has helped to popularize the genre and introduce it to a broader audience.

The Global Influence of Deep House

Deep house music has had a significant impact on the global music scene, influencing various genres and inspiring countless artists worldwide. In South Africa, for example, deep house has become a dominant force, with local artists like Black Coffee and Culoe De Song gaining international recognition for their unique takes on the genre. The country’s vibrant deep house scene has contributed to the genre’s evolution and popularity.

In Europe, cities like Berlin, London, and Ibiza have become hubs for deep house music, hosting numerous festivals and events dedicated to the genre. Clubs like Berghain in Berlin and Fabric in London have played crucial roles in promoting deep house and providing platforms for both established and emerging artists.

The Future of Deep House

As deep house continues to evolve, it shows no signs of losing its appeal. Advances in music production technology and the increasing accessibility of music distribution platforms have empowered a new generation of producers to experiment with the genre and push its boundaries. The fusion of deep house with other musical styles, such as hip-hop, R&B, and even classical music, suggests a promising future for the genre.

Moreover, the rise of streaming services and online music communities has made it easier for fans to discover and connect with deep house music from around the world. This increased exposure is likely to lead to further innovation and cross-pollination within the genre.


Deep house music, with its rich history and enduring appeal, remains a vital and influential force in the world of electronic music. From its origins in Chicago to its global impact, the genre has continually evolved, inspiring countless artists and captivating audiences with its emotive and immersive soundscapes. As it continues to grow and adapt, deep house music will undoubtedly remain a beloved and essential part of the musical landscape

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