Infographic Of The Day: The History Of Dance Music In One Handy Timeline

Want to convince your friends you’re a bigger music snob than they are? Here’s a cheat sheet: an interactive timeline showing the birthplace and evolution of different genres of western dance music.

Cleverly, it’s formatted like an audio player. Press play, and visual connections between genres shoot around a map of the world as time passes, revealing how we got from early 19th-century African songs and marching-band music to 21st century dub step, grime, and electro house. The chart goes fast, so you’ll have to press pause here and there to pick up all the minute details. But hey, if music arcana is your thing, it's well worth the effort. Soon, you’ll be able to pepper dinner conversations with gems like, "Ya’ know, speed garage came from jungle and UK garage" and "Of course, synth pop is a descendant of Negro spirituals." But there's also a deeper narrative about innovation, idea-sharing, and technology that underpins the charts.

The origins of dance music lie in 1950s blues and jazz, which were both descendants of music brought over from Africa by slaves:

By the late 1960s, blues had given way to soul, which spawned disco:

It's disco that starts making contemporary dance music into a global phenomenon. From disco you get the mid-1970s synth-pop of ABBA and the like:

Then technology starts playing a major role. With the advent of devices such as the electric synthesizer, music becomes easier to produce. By the late 1970', the various sub-genres were exploding:

Then things got really nuts with the advent of digital music, which made music dead simple to slice, dice, and remix:

Mind you, these "complete guide" infographics are rarely as complete as their titles suggest. The chart really seems to have started with contemporary dance music as we know it, in all its forms, and worked backwards, presenting a timeline of very specific influences. (There's all kinds of other dance, such as salsa or tango, which would come with a totally different history.)

Go here to read about how the designers, Thompson Holidays, researched and arranged the map and why they confined their data to "top-level dance genres." Still think they omitted important moments in dance-music history? Convince us what a big snob you are, and let us know in the comments.

[Hat tip to Chart Porn]

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