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Disco Glossary

Features an alphabetical listing of Disco related terms popular during the 70s Disco era.

The Disco era had its own special style and lingo. DiscoMusic.com presents an alphabetical listing of Disco related terms popular during the '70s Disco era.




12" a.k.a.12" Disco Single or 12 Inch Single

-A record conceived by New York Disco remixer Tom Moulton and Puerto Rican born mastering engineer José Rodriguez around 1974-75 that used an entire side of an album sized 12 inch record for just one song. By spreading the one song over an entire side the mastering engineer was able to get a better sounding single with greater dynamic range, more volume, deeper bass and extended high end response, which was crucial in a club setting where music was being played at high volumes on high resolution sound systems.




Billboard Disco Mix Column

-In 1974 Billboard's weekly music trade paper began reporting about the emerging Disco trend. This new weekly column included a collection of Disco music charts compiled from key New York City record shops and Disco DJs as well as the scoop on new and upcoming Disco releases. The Disco Mix column was originally authored by Tom Moulton and later by Barry Lederer.




Blending

-A term used in the early days of Disco by DJs where one record is mixed into another. It pretty much means the same as mixing. See "Disco Mix" below.




B.P.M.

-Beats per minute. A unit of measure used by DJs to calculate the tempo of a song. Although Disco songs could range from under 90 BPM to over 180 BPM, most fell in the range of 116 - 140 BPM, with an even greater majority in the 125 - 132 BPM spectrum. Knowing the BPM of a song allowed a DJ to construct a DJ mix with records of a similar tempo.




Break

-The mainly instrumental portion of a song usually near the middle where most vocals are dropped with emphasis on percussion and the beat. In a Disco single this would sometimes be extended by a remixer in the studio to allow the Disco DJ an opportunity to mix into another record.




Bus Stop

-The name of a popular Disco line dance of the mid 1970s.




Disco Ball

-Although around since the 1920s and the staple of most dance halls, this mirrored ball was reborn during the Disco era and has forever remained linked to Disco. These balls are made up of hundreds of small mirror tiles and were hung from a hook attached to a rotating motor. When a spotlight is aimed at this revolving mirrored surface it floods the dance floor with moving reflections that add to the ambiance. No Disco or Disco themed party is complete without a Disco ball... the larger the diameter of a Disco ball the better.




Disco DJ

-The person behind the turntables who is responsible for choosing and mixing the records at a discotheque or party. The Disco DJ is essentially the star of the show and is the way clubs differentiated themselves.




Disco Mix

-This can mean two things; 1) The studio process where a remixer extends the original track by adding or lengthening a break, verse or bridge to the existing track to make it more DJ friendly. Also called a remix or Disco remix. 2) When a Disco DJ in a nightclub beat mixes from one record to another in a seamless fashion where dancers don't miss a beat. This is achieved by the DJ using an electronic device called a mixer to blend the outputs of two or more turntables.




DiscoMusic.com

-Begun in 1996 by Bernard Lopez and originally known as Bernie's Disco Music Page, DiscoMusic.com was one of the earliest sites on the world wide web to focus on Disco music of the 1970s and 80s. It was the first Disco website to feature an Unlikely Disco Artists roundup, an ever growing Disco record discography called the Disco Vault and the 700 Top Disco Songs chart which all still exist today. In 1997 the DiscoMusic.com domain was acquired and the site steadily grew to become the largest and most visited Disco music web site.




Discotheque

-The formal name given to Discos and dance clubs / night clubs of the Disco era. Originally of French origin it means a place that plays recorded music.




DJ Booth

-The area in a discotheque or night club reserved for the Disco DJ, his equipment and records. Depending on the club this could be a section partitioned off from the dance floor, on a stage or in a completely separate room overlooking the dance floor.




Dub

-The concept of stripping a record of much of its vocals and reworking many of its elements to create a new and exciting version akin to a souped-up instrumental. While the Dub version or "Dub Mix" gained popularity in the early 1980s its origins go way back to the Jamaican dance-halls of the 1960s where DJs would outdo each other to provide unique and highly stylized variations of popular songs.




Edit

-The labor intensive process of using a razor blade to cut reel to reel tape and rearrange elements of a song. This was done by DJs when they wanted to create a unique version of a song, but did not have access to the original master tapes. New York DJ John Morales and The Latin Rascals were some of the early and best known pioneers of this technique.




Eye-Cue

-A groove on a 12 inch Disco single that was used to visually partition the different parts of the track such as the intro, break... It was used by Motown Records as well as some other labels, but was never widely used despite it making it easier for DJs to cue and see the different sections of the record under low light.




Giant Single

-A marketing term used by some record labels for the 12 inch single. The term was used more for 45 RPM 12 inch singles as these normally would have been 7 inch records.




Hustle

-Perhaps the quintessential partner dance routine of the Disco era which had its origins in the Hispanic community of New York City. Couples would go through great lengths-and practice to show off their elaborate moves. The television show "Dance Fever" brought the popular Hustle moves to countless dancers outside the major cities. There were many variations of the Hustle, but the most popular was the Latin Hustle or New York Hustle which many dance enthusiasts still practice at a few weekly retro Disco dance parties in New York.




Mixer

-An electronic device that allows different sources such as two turntables, reel-to-reel tape decks... to be played and blended at the same time by varying their volumes by use of a rotary knob or slider. In addition it allows a DJ the ability to preview and cue one record using headphones without the audience hearing it.




Pitch Control

-A knob or slider on a turntable that allows a DJ to slightly slow down or speed up a vinyl record. This was essential for creating flawless mixes between songs with different tempos/BPMs.




Record Pool

-An organization formed by early Disco DJs that served as a collective base and allowed them to use their strength in numbers to request promotional vinyl records from the record labels in return for club play and audience feedback. The first generally acknowledged record pool was the New York Record Pool which was started around 1975 by David Mancuso of the Loft. The concept soon spread to other U.S. cities and is still an important part of record promotions today.




R.P.M.

-Revolutions per minute. The speed at which a record is played on a turntable. Most were either 33 ⅓ rpm or 45 RPM. Full length albums were usually cut at 33 1/3 while 7 and 12 inch singles could be either 33 1/3 or 45 RPM.




Run Out Groove

-The grooves near the record's label that act as a silent area where the stylus is directed after the end of a side of music. Some record labels included inscriptions between these grooves that had clever little sayings or crude drawings. For instance many Disco records that were mastered by Herbie Powers of Frankford Wayne Studios had a little smiley face that spelled out Herbie.




SalSoul a.k.a. Sal-Soul

-A word coined by New York singer Joe Baatan around 1973 to announce the convergence of Salsa and Soul music (a.k.a Disco). This would also be the name of one of the legendary Disco record labels out of New York, Salsoul Records, which would later release the first commercially available 12 inch single to the public.




Segue

-A transition between two songs usually done by simply fading out of one song and into another without regard to matching beats such as what is done on radio.




Slip Cue

-The process where a Disco DJ quickly cuts from one record to the other with little or no overlay or mixing while maintaining a steady beat.




Tempo

-Essentially the same thing as B.P.M.




T.K.

-One of the famous record labels of the Disco era out of Miami, Florida. The initials stood for Terry Kane who built the recording studio for label owner Henry Stone.




Turntable

-An electronic device that plays records and consists of a spinning platter and a tonearm with a cartridge. Disco DJs used two turntables and sometimes three in a discotheque setting to create a non-stop music experience. While the early Technics SL-1100 was the first real Disco DJ turntable it is the ubiquitous Technics SL-1200 mk2 turntables that were, and decades later still, the professional DJs choice when it comes to turntables.

By Bernard Lopez


 

Your Comments

frank cisco castillo |

disco dj francisco i had a pair technics sl 1100 for mixing disco there slow motor my all time turn tabales to mix are the technics sl 1500 mk2 with the digital pinch control disco will always be play at the night clubs

DJ Disco Dave |

great info all and thx StarTerry.

How about Voyage too, Terry lol.

SUICIDE MIX or DROP MIX.
To immediately mix from one song to another without missing 'the' beat and not using 'fading' on the mixing boards slider.

UNDER-RUN
To mix two songs together for the complete length of a primary songs break but the secondary songs volume level is at a lower level.

There were rare groups of songs that you could run together for nearly the full length.

the TEASE
Mixing in a blurp of a track into the primary song.



segue |

Medleys became very popular in the mid 70's. Mixing and editing bits and pieces of various disco songs dj created a new compositions called medleys.

vyniljunkie |

Bernie you left out the term "re-mix". A remix was not only what an extended version of a recording was, but what a expert deejay liked to do with two or more versions or copies of a record. I would change the song's intro, its complextion totally. Making it a different version played every time I "re-mixed" it. This was a concept that today is done in studios and on computers. Back in the day, we did it LIVE at the clubs, and that in-it-self was an ART-FORM!! what the great studio mixers did, was performed LIVE at the club. That was an experience.

StarrTerry |

I used to call this the Modulated Groove

StarrTerry |

EYE CUE

Many 12" singles with multiple tracks had this facility amd KC & Sunshine Band Album had this as well.

I'm You're Boogie Man and Keep It Comming Live had this known facility.

also

IMPORTE 12
The other side of Hill of Katmandu by Tantra had this well known facility.

Haleluliah/Su-Ku-Leiu/Mother Africa respectivley which run into each other had this facility as well.

StarrTerry |

Disotheque
Nightspot
NightClub

Many clubs were called Discos Discotheques.

Some places took on the title of "Nitespot and Discotheque"

StarrTerry |

DJ Booth sometimes known in many UK Discotheques or UK Disco Clubs as the DJ Stand.

Many of which were in they custom built Dance Halls on the stage. The decks incorporation the mixer and turntales together, mounted on a heavy duty stand, hence the term "DJ Stand"

StarrTerry |

I've have one for you

DMC = Disco Mix Club
A mix club exclusively for DJs by means of a Subscription. Started by former Radio Luxemburg DJ - Tony Prince.

Quote:
"...this is one club THEY cannot get into..."


Evelyn |

This doesnt have any good information about Disco!!!!!!

Bernard Lopez |

Thank you for pointing out that "Super Sound Single" was indeed the term used on many European Disco singles of the day.

Feel free to add any other Disco related terms.

Magnifique1 |

"Super Sound Single" was another term used for 12-inch singles (in Germany) in the seventies when the 12" vinyl singles became available. The term "Super Sound Single - 30 cm 45 rpm" was printed on the sleeves sometimes.

 

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