What is DEEP HOUSE? Everything You Need to Know in 5min

what is deep house

Ever wondered what Deep House is? And why it stands out among other house music subgenres? Then this is the article for you!

Deep House is known for its smooth, soulful vibes and groovy rhythms. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Deep House, including:

  • what sets Deep House apart from classic House;
  • the origins of Deep House;
  • key characteristics that define Deep House (drums, bass, synths, etc.);
  • some essential Deep House artists to check out.

Let’s explore!

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So… What is Deep House?

Deep House is a subgenre of House music. No big surprise there πŸ˜…

Dee House combines the steady 4/4 beat of classic House with elements of jazz, funk, and soul. The genre is known for its complex melodies, groovy beach-like vibes, and atmospheric sounds.

While classic House tracks focus on working on the dancefloor, Deep House tracks tend to be slower, more atmospheric, and melodic. Deep House producers will often use jazz-influenced chords and smooth vocal samples to give their tracks a soulful touch.

Here are two great tracks that exemplify what Deep House sounds like:

A great Deep House track
78 to Stanley Bay, a great example of the type of chors and sounds used in Deep House

In both these cases, you can feel that these tracks were not specifically made for the dancefloor, unlike classic House tracks. With Deep House, the focus is on melody and harmony rather than pure energy. This makes it a great genre for home listening or even a dinner party.

When did Deep House emerge?

Deep House originated in the mid-1980s in Chicago and New York.

Frankie Knuckles, a pioneer of the Deep House sound
Frankie Knuckles, a pioneer of the Deep House sound

Influenced by the earlier house music scene, artists like Mr. Fingers and Frankie Knuckles pushed the sound into more complex and jazzy territory. Over time, Deep House spread beyond Chicago, gaining popularity in cities like New York, London, and eventually across Europe.

Want to learn how to make Deep House? Check out 1-Hour Masterclass on our YouTube channel:

Deep House’s Defining Elements

Now that we’ve covered broadly what Deep House is, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Here are some of the elements that will tell you that you are listening to a Deep House track.

Drums

In terms of drums, Deep House features the classic 4/4 beat, with a tempo ranging between 120-125 BPM.

Unlike the driving beats of Tech House or Bass House, Deep House drums are smooth and laid-back. Producers will often use classic drum machines like the Roland TR-909 (or sample packs derived from it). The goal here is to not overpower the melodic elements; the drums simply lay down a foundation for the rest of the track.

The classic Roland TR-909
The classic Roland TR-909

Bass

In terms of bass, Deep House features melodic basslines that support the groove of the track. Unlike with Tech House or Progressive House, the bassline in a Deep House track should not stand out. Producers will often use smooth, low-passed bass sounds that give a relaxed vibe.

They might even use actual bass guitars or synthesized bass sounds that emulate a real bass.

This adds to the organic feeling of Deep House.

Synths

For the main synths, the focus is yet again on warm, lush sounds.

For example, electric pianos and Rhodes pianos are often part of a Deep House track.

Lush synth pads are also often used with a long attack and long release to give the track a dreamy feel. In terms of melodies, they are often more complex than what you would hear in classic House tracks. They are often borrowed from Jazz and Funk scales, with chords extending beyond the simple triad and adding the 7th or the 9th.

Arrangement

Tracks typically have a longer runtime, allowing for slow build-ups and breakdowns. Because the focus is more on the atmosphere rather than the drop, transitions are smoother. Tracks feature subtle changes in dynamics and textures. Because Deep House is not as mainstream as House, the arrangements tend to be more experimental, deviating from the classic verse-chorus structure.

Sampling

Sampling is another important aspect of Deep House production.

Producers often sample elements from jazz, funk, soul, and even classic house tracks.

They will then manipulate those samples to make them their own. Samples can include anything from vocal snippets to instrumental loops. These samples add a sense of nostalgia and familiarity to the genre, as well as allow for experimentation.

In particular, vocal samples are very common. These are often lifted from old soul and gospel records.

5 Deep House Artists You Should Check out

Now that we’ve covered what Deep House is, it’s time to showcase some artists. However, keep in mind that there are a lot of overlaps between classic House, Deep House, Melodic House, and the like. Because artists like to experiment, their tracks often don’t all fit neatly into one or the other genre.

#1: Larry Heard (Mr. Fingers)

Larry Heard is often credited as one of the originators of Deep House. His tracks like “Can You Feel It” and “Mystery of Love” are important Deep House anthems, characterized by their soulful melodies and deep grooves.

Larry Heard, a deep house DJ and producer
Larry Heard

#2: Frankie Knuckles

As mentioned in the intro, Frankie Knuckles is considered a pioneering figure of the genre. Tracks like “The Whistle Song” showcase his ability to blend house rhythms with more lush and melodic elements.

My personal favorite is “Your Love”. While not strictly a Deep House track, it still sounds fresh today and influenced countless other records after it.

#3: Kerri Chandler

Kerri Chandler is another influential figure in Deep House. His productions, such as “Atmosphere” and “Rain,” showcase the complex nature of Deep House.

Especially on the track Rain, although the drums feel very familiar, the chord progression sounds like something from another world. Check it out:

A dissonant chord progression if I ever heard one

#4: Maya Jane Coles

A more contemporary entry in this list, Maya Jane Coles has made a significant impact with tracks like “What They Say”. She doesn’t stick strictly to Deep House, exploring various subgenres of House and even Techno.

A personal favorite of mine is “Other Side”, a soulful cut that features amazing melodies and vocal samples that blend seamlessly into the track.

#5: Jimpster

Jimpster, co-founder of the Freerange Records label, has also been a key player in the Deep House scene. With hits dating back to the 90s, his productions are known to be sophisticated and soulful. He also isn’t scared to slow down the BPM considerably compared to other Deep House. Check out his track “The Sun Comes Up” to get a good idea for his music.

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Last Thoughts on Deep House

That’s it for this guide! Hopefully, we were able to give you some idea of what this genre sounds like, where it comes from as well as some of its key players. What genre would you like us to cover next? Drop us a line at [email protected]

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