Tribal house

Last updated

Tribal house is a subgenre of house music combining elements of traditional house music. [1] It is broadly characterized by elements of indigenous musical percussions (typically conga drums or its synthesized derivative).



By the late 1980s, house was experiencing a number of fusions from other styles. When the four on the floor pattern was blended with polyrhythms, tribal house began. [2]

Tribal house rose to prominence off the releases of Cafe latte labels Tribal Amy, to a lesser extent, Strictly Rhythm Records.[ citation needed ] The music was a staple in New York's most prominent clubs, such as the Sound Factory and Roxy NYC. Tribal America Records' infamy within this subgenre stemmed from their globally popular releases by Danny Tenaglia, Junior Vasquez, Deep Dish, Eric Kupper (aka K-Scope) and Murk amongst others. This popularity led to the formation of a UK sub-label, Tribal United Kingdom. The label also helped launch European artists Farley & Heller, Salt City Orchestra, The Underground Sound Of Lisbon and others who produced in this style.

Stylistic elements

In many tribal house tracks, it is rare to find a core melody or prolonged synth sound, such as those found in house music and similar electronic music styles. Instead, tribal house tracks rely on sophisticated drum patterns for their rhythm. A track can consist of several different drum sounds.

There is no clear-cut definition of tribal house music, instead tracks are usually classified or perceived as tribal because of their live sound. Tribal house is reminiscent of the Indigenous music of various tribes of Africa and South America, and it is not unusual for this music to feature chanting and ululation as a cappellas. Tribal music can be produced with either live (i.e. with real drums and instruments) or digital instrumentation: however, live-produced music of this sort in the purest sense is seen as ethnic, while digital tribal music is called 'tribal house'.

Tribal house is a fusion of various styles of electronic dance music (see Latin house), and can range from uplifting and cheerful to dark and aggressive in mood. It can sometimes distort the boundaries between dark house, which is an offshoot of progressive house, and tech-house, a more techno-driven, "sharper" house percussion beat, as if mixing intelligent dance music and minimal techno.

Current popularity

Tribal house is currently the primary genre of dance music played in the Circuit scene, [3] large festival-like dance events held world-wide that can be described as the equivalent of a rave party. While this is the broad term generally used to describe the music played at these events, the actual music played by disc jockeys often will be a wider range of subgenres within house music, but often maintaining a tribal house characteristic in the sound of the tracks chosen. This music first entered the scene in the 1990s through the releases of music labels like Tribal America.[ citation needed ]

In the early 2000s, tribal house evolved into a very percussive, repetitive hard-edged sound that was frequently described as 'pots and pans' for its supposed similarity to the sound made by banging such cookware together. In the mid-2000s, the sound shifted to incorporate more vocals, perhaps as a reaction to the extremity of the 'pots and pans' sound. Presently, tribal house remixes played by DJs frequently are the 'dub' versions, remixes that use only minimal vocals from the original track, with the music often in a minor key to keep it sounding edgier and more tribal, unlike the major key that a more mainstream club remix might use.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Drum and bass</span> Type of electronic music

Drum and bass is a genre of electronic dance music characterised by fast breakbeats with heavy bass and sub-bass lines, samples, and synthesizers. The genre grew out of the UK's jungle scene in the 1990s.

House is a music genre characterized by a repetitive four-on-the-floor beat and a typical tempo of 120 beats per minute. It was created by DJs and music producers from Chicago's underground club culture in the early/mid 1980s, and as DJs began altering disco songs to give them a more mechanical beat.

Trance is a genre of electronic dance music that emerged from EBM in Frankfurt, Germany, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and quickly spread throughout Europe.

Electronica is both a broad group of electronic-based music styles intended for listening rather than strictly for dancing and a music scene that came to prominence in the early 1990s in the United Kingdom. In the United States, the term is mostly used to refer to electronic music generally.

Jungle is a genre of dance music that developed out of the UK rave scene and sound system culture in the 1990s. Emerging from breakbeat hardcore, the style is characterised by rapid breakbeats, heavily syncopated percussive loops, samples, and synthesised effects, combined with the deep basslines, melodies, and vocal samples found in dub, reggae and dancehall, as well as hip hop and funk. Many producers frequently sampled the "Amen break" or other breakbeats from funk and jazz recordings. Jungle was a direct precursor to the drum and bass genre which emerged in the mid-1990s.

Microhouse, buftech or sometimes just minimal, is a subgenre of house music strongly influenced by minimalism and 1990s techno.

Tech house is a subgenre of house music that combines stylistic features of techno with house. The term tech house developed as a shorthand record store name for a category of electronic dance music that combined musical aspects of techno, such as "rugged basslines" and "steely beats", with the harmonies and grooves of progressive house. The music originally had a clean and minimal production style that was associated with techno from Detroit and the UK.

Downtempo is a broad label for electronic music that features an atmospheric sound and slower beats than would typically be found in dance music. Closely related to ambient music but with greater emphasis on rhythm, the style may be played in chillout clubs or as "warm-up or cool-down" music during a DJ set. Examples of downtempo subgenres include trip hop, ambient house, chillwave, psybient and lo-fi hip hop.

Hardcore is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany in the early 1990s. It is distinguished by faster tempos and a distorted sawtooth kick, the intensity of the kicks and the synthesized bass, the rhythm and the atmosphere of the themes, the usage of saturation and experimentation close to that of industrial dance music. It would spawn subgenres such as gabber.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hardstyle</span> Genre of electronic dance music

Hardstyle is an electronic dance genre that emerged in the late 1990s, with origins in the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy. Hardstyle mixes influences from techno, new beat and hardcore.

Minimal techno is a subgenre of techno music. It is characterized by a stripped-down aesthetic that exploits the use of repetition and understated development. Minimal techno is thought to have been originally developed in the early 1990s by Detroit-based producers Robert Hood and Daniel Bell. By the early 2000s the term 'minimal' generally described a style of techno that was popularized in Germany by labels such as Kompakt, Perlon, and Richie Hawtin's M-nus, among others.

Hard trance is a subgenre of trance music that originated in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands in the early 1990s as the Breakbeat hardcore production community began to diversify into new and different styles of electronic music, all influenced by Hard house, New beat, Happy hardcore and Jungle music. The popularity of hard trance peaked during the late 1990s and has since then faded in scope of newer forms of trance.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dance music</span> Music composed specifically to facilitate or accompany dancing

Dance music is music composed specifically to facilitate or accompany dancing. It can be either a whole piece or part of a larger musical arrangement. In terms of performance, the major categories are live dance music and recorded dance music. While there exist attestations of the combination of dance and music in ancient times, the earliest Western dance music that we can still reproduce with a degree of certainty are old-fashioned dances. In the Baroque period, the major dance styles were noble court dances. In the classical music era, the minuet was frequently used as a third movement, although in this context it would not accompany any dancing. The waltz also arose later in the classical era. Both remained part of the romantic music period, which also saw the rise of various other nationalistic dance forms like the barcarolle, mazurka, ecossaise, ballade and polonaise.

Drum and bass is an electronic music genre that originated in the UK rave scene having developed from breakbeat hardcore. The genre would go on to become one of the most popular genres of electronic dance music, becoming international and spawning multiple different derivatives and subgenres.

Electro house is a genre of electronic dance music characterized by heavy bass and a tempo around 125–135 beats per minute. The term has been used to describe the music of many DJ Mag Top 100 DJs, including Benny Benassi, Skrillex, Steve Aoki, and Deadmau5.

Big room house or simply big room is a fusion subgenre of house music that gained popularity in the early 2010s. Characterized by its simple instrumentation yet complex structure, big room house soon revolutionized the EDM scene into multiple subgenres that we know today.


  1. Price, Emmett George (2010). "House music". Encyclopedia of African American Music. Vol. 3. ABC-CLIO. p. 406. ISBN   0313341990 . Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  2. Bogdanov, Vladimir (2001). All music guide to electronica: the definitive guide to electronic music . Backbeat Books. p. xiv. ISBN   0879306289 . Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  3. Doug Rule (28 March 2013). "Cherry Blossoms: The Cherry Fund's annual party returns next weekend for more tribal beats". Metro Weekly magazine. Jansi. Retrieved 24 April 2013.