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The Artform Disco: Historical Perspective

Table of Contents
Definition
The Role of the Symphony Orchestra
Vocals
Philosophical Context
The Impact Of The Fall, January 1, 1980
Sole Solution: Soul Revolution

Conscious of the growing escapism movement of the late-1960s and early-1970s world beat, intellectual musicians with thorough knowledge of music theory and orchestration endeavored to elevate music to the pinnacle of passion by injecting the artform with the psychology of symphonic sensuality, dynamically intensifying emotions through rhythmic rhapsody. Decades of being shouted at by illiterates, electric guitars, and garbagecan drums of 3- and 4-piece garage bands - reflecting the classless 1950s and 1960s hunger for imbecilic entertainment - now exterminated, like a blossom, the 1970s Age of Enlightenment emancipated the essence of the individual, while germinating the spirit of society. The newfound insatiable appetite for expression of the proud self pushed the arts beyond the ultimate felicity, and recording and engineering to beyond the summit of technology. As humans were endowed with the liberty to rediscover their soul, film, photography, and music rediscovered their soul:

(1) the disco beat, the veritable sound and feeling of the human heartbeat, and the driving baseline, conducting the body's very bloodline pulse, were the psychological and physiological attention-grabber
(2) the story-telling structure - complete with introduction; chapters consisting of verses, bridges, and refrains; and conclusion - was the foundation upon which the whole theme was composed
(3) the multiple rhythm and woodwind arrangements emphasizing the beautiful melodies determined the groove
(4) the immense, complex horn and string arrangements direct from the local contracted symphony or philharmonic orchestra amplified the subtext and intensified the emotional spectrum through which one traveled within the duration of the masterpiece
(5) the disco mix, featuring orchestral "breaks" and "builds," enhanced the composition and beautiful melody, and kept listeners and dancers in a psychological trance, teasing with, first, a "break" in the melody with percussion instruments, and then a slow hinting at the melody with rhythm instruments and woodwinds, and then a "building" with horns, and then more "building" with strings, and then concluding with background vocals, all mixed together into a fluid philharmonic fantasy for the purpose of thrusting listeners and dancers into an orchestral ecstasy.

Because the production of each disco masterpiece was so intensive and extensive, as with no other form of music in history, there was no such thing as disco street performers or a disco band, and, as a result, talent sprouted and blossomed in cultural centers with large city symphony and philharmonic orchestras in the areas of:
New York
Philadelphia
Los Angeles
Detroit
Miami
Chicago
Nashville
San Francisco
Atlanta
Memphis
Toronto
Montreal
Quebec
London
Paris
Munich
Berlin
Milan.

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An integral part of the disco phenomenon was not only its grand symphony-orchestra sound but the manner by which the sound was presented. There are not very many timeperiods in history that can lay claim to widescale employment of the symphony orchestra. First, the lack of intellectual creativity and, second, the lack of practicality have always rendered the symphony orchestra an unattainable extravagance. In previous music eras, if the semblance of a symphony orchestra was present, it was in the form of a big-band sound, whereby loud, brassy arrangements of wind instruments were the highlight. If strings were ever to be included, their purpose was to infuse a feminine touch to an otherwise unabashed masculine sound - the bold reflection in the musical mirror of a male-dominated society. For the first time in the history of music, during the Disco Era, string instruments were accomplishing feats never intended in their design. No longer content with just adding sweetness to a musical composition in a passive, supportive role, violins, violas, cellos, and harps more than commanded a prominent role; they demanded attention. When the Women's Movement hit full-throttle in the late-1970s, string arrangements of disco masterpieces proved to be more lavish, exquisite, and, like women in society, active than they ever were in the history of humanity. Yet, it is not as if string arrangements usurped totalitarian rule: That which was occurring in society was mirrored in the features of disco masterpieces: intricate, fanciful interplay of horns and strings in at least one of the rebuilds of a break in a disco mix and, often, a cameo of each component of the symphony orchestra as if to vocalize the awareness during the 1970s that all of nature's creatures are of equal significance, no matter how minute.

The success of a disco masterpiece was the measure of exhilaration experienced by the audience: the ability of the melodic structure; vocal, rhythm, and symphony-orchestral embellishments; and builds and breaks to propel the audience into a euphoric high. As with directors of the film industry of the 1920s and 1930s, the intellectual and creative aptitude necessary to conceive, compose, and construct an intellectual and creative disco masterpiece was bestowed upon a select few, the definitive list of names of whom is as follows:

Music History's Premier Producers, Arrangers, and Orchestra Conductors

Music History's Premier Concertmasters

Dependent upon the assemblage of the multiplicity of music tracks of the symphony-orchestra components, the artistic integrity of the masterpiece was a direct reflection of the creative artistry of those involved with post-production - the mixers and engineers:

Music History's Premier Mixers and Engineers

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Befitting that the Age of Enlightenment generated by the Disco Era would produce music history's most beautiful melodies; but, that even the sometimes-hideous melodies of previous music eras were not only redeemed but transcendentally transformed into fantastic philharmonia by disco's ambrosial arrangements and paradisiacal productions through even complete rewrites of structure and content is a triumphant testimonial to the unparalleled intellectual and artistic renaissance personified by the masters of the Disco Era. Applied with a precision not even acknowledged previous to this period, the vocals - the iridescent icing on the consummate confection concerto - adorned the composition with a scintilliance that can be derived only from the beauty of the inner-self after jubilant discovery of the spiritual. As the philosophical and sociological ideals were driven from theory to reality, for the first time that historical documentation can prove, the intellectual and artistic theorems that founded these ideals supplanted the pre-1970s millennia-old, intelligence-deficient, emotion-based traditions. Male vocalists began to display a genuine - not specious - respect for women; lyrics for female vocalists progressed from those typifying uncertainty of purpose and the resultant melancholy of spirit, enunciating a significance measured only by man's validation, to those proclaiming an intellectually-developed culture, all of whose members now possessing the biological right of control over their own destiny. Within the intricate design of rhythms, woodwinds, brass, and reeds, string arrangements interwove a feminine self-assurance, newfound freedom, and exuberance for life and living throughout the philharmonic fabric, as if a bird just discovering flight. The following asseverate disco doctrine:

Ruby Andrews' Queen of the Disco
[lyrics]

Touché's Take A Look (But Don't Touch) [lyrics]

The Body Shop's Never [lyrics]

Mary Love's Dance to My Music [lyrics]

Delores Halls' I Was Born to Be Free [lyrics]

Linda Clifford's Don't Give It Up [lyrics]

Loleatta Holloway's Catch Me on the Rebound [lyrics]

Scherrie & Susaye's Leaving Me Was the Best Thing You've Ever Done [lyrics]

Odyssey's Single Again/What Time Does the Balloon Go Up [lyrics]

Evelyn Thomas's I Wanna Make It on My Own [lyrics]

Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive [lyrics].

The euphonious euphoria with which one was imbued by the unprecedented orchestral opulence was best exemplified by the style and character of the divine disco vocalist, yet dramatically demonstrated by those vocalists for whom the disco style was not their first and who, propelled into paradise by the magniloquence of the masterpieces, were infused with a talent that they themselves did not realize they possessed. In conferring the following, note the manner by which each masterpiece of design and symphony-orchestral luxury liberates the vocalist's spirit with a style representing the absolute artistic apex of his/her respective career. And, in the case of Jack Jones's Wives and Lovers, consider the characteristic 1960s beyond-camp lyrics and below-simpleton arrangements and construction, and how yet again the supreme disco designer music stylings miraculously glamorize even the lowest that humanity has plunged.

Lenny Williams' When I'm Dancin'; Frank E. Wilson, producer; Frank E. Wilson, Bruce Miller, Tom Washington, arrangers; Frank E. Wilson, orchestra conductor; Charles Veal, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra (1979)

Sergio Franchi's Laugh, You Silly Clown; Jeff Guercio, producer; Benjamin Wright, Jr., arranger; Benjamin Wright, Jr., orchestra conductor; Gerald Vinci, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra (1979)

Grace Jones's Am I Ever Gonna Fall in Love in New York City; Tom Moulton, producer; John Davis, arranger; John Davis, orchestra conductor; Don Renaldo, concertmaster of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra (1978)

Al Martino's Volare; Mike Curb, producer; Al Capps, arranger; Al Capps, orchestra conductor; Harry Bluestone, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra (1975)

Jack Jones's Wives and Lovers; Ken Barnes, Pete Moore, producers; Walter Murphy, arranger; Walter Murphy, orchestra conductor; Harry Bluestone, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra (1979)

Marlena Shaw's Love Dancing; Tony Bongiovi, Marlena Shaw, Meco Monardo, Harold Wheeler, producers; Meco Monardo, Harold Wheeler, arrangers; Harold Wheeler, orchestra conductor; Irving Spice, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (1979)

Freda Payne's Master of Love; Frank Wilson, producer; Frank E. Wilson, Bruce Miller, Tony Camillo, arrangers; Bruce Miller, orchestra conductor; Gerald Vinci, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra (1977)

Mary Wilson's You Make Me Feel So Good; Hal Davis, producer; Arthur Wright, arranger; Arthur Wright, orchestra conductor; Assa Drori, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra (1979)

Les McCann's Just the Way You Are; Paul Riser, Les McCann, producers; Paul Riser, Les McCann, arrangers; Paul Riser, orchestra conductor; Harry Bluestone, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra (1978)

Trini Lopez's Helplessly; Tony Bongiovi, Meco Monardo, Harold Wheeler, producers; Meco Monardo, Harold Wheeler, arrangers; Harold Wheeler, orchestra conductor; Irving Spice, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (1978)

Martha Reeves' Love Don't Come No Stronger; Henry Cosby, producer; Dale O. Warren, PhD, Robert Manchurian, arrangers; Dale O. Warren, PhD, orchestra conductor; William Henderson, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra (1978)

Isaac Hayes' Stranger in Paradise; Isaac Hayes, producer; Isaac Hayes, Johnny Allen, arrangers; Isaac Hayes, orchestra conductor; Peter Schenkman, Mickey Erbe, Ben Picone, concertmasters of the Atlanta and Memphis Symphony Orchestras (1977)

Millie Jackson's What Went Wrong Last Night; Brad Shapiro, producer; David Van De Pitte, arranger; David Van De Pitte, orchestra conductor; Felix Resnick, concertmaster of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (1979)

Diana Ross' The Boss; Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson, producers; John Davis, arranger; John Davis, orchestra conductor; Sephra Herman, Alfred Brown, concertmasters of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (1979)

Andy Williams' Love Story; Bob Esty, producer; Bob Esty, arranger; Bob Esty orchestra conductor; Sid Sharp, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra (1979)

Evelyn Thomas' My Head's in the Stars; Ian Levine, Danny Raye Leake, producers; Paul David Wilson, arranger; Paul David Wilson, orchestra conductor; Edmund Lee Bauer, concertmaster of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (1979)

Johnny Mathis' Begin the Beguine; Jack Gold, producer; Gene Page, arranger; Gene Page, orchestra conductor; Harry Bluestone, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra (1979)

Bette Midler's Married Men; Arif Mardin, producer; Arif Mardin, arranger; Arif Mardin, orchestra conductor; Gene Orloff, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (1979)

Cher's Take Me Home; Bob Esty, producer; Bob Esty, arranger; Bob Esty orchestra conductor; Sid Sharp, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra (1979)

Paul Anka's Never Get to Know You; Michael DeLugg, Paul Anka, producers; Benjamin Wright, David Foster, arrangers; Benjamin Wright, orchestra conductor; Gerald Vinci, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra (1979)

Gladys Knight's It's a Better-Than-Good Time; Tony Macaulay, producer; Tony King, arranger; Frank DeCaro, orchestra conductor; Charles Veal, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra (1977)

Barbra Streisand's The Main Event; Bob Esty, producer; Bob Esty, arranger; Bob Esty orchestra conductor; Sid Sharp, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra (1979)

Elaine & Ellen's The Look of Love; John Dubiel, Donald Burnside, producers; John Dubiel, Donald Burnside, arrangers; Donald Burnside, orchestra conductor; Edmund Lee Bauer, concertmaster of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (1979)

Ethel Merman's There's No Business Like Show Business; Peter Matz, producer; Peter Matz, arranger; Peter Matz, orchestra conductor; Gerald Vinci, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra (1979)

Dan Hartman's Relight My Fire; Dan Hartman, Norman Harris, producers; Norman Harris arranger; Norman Harris, orchestra conductor; Don Renaldo, concertmaster of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra (1979)



Like fine silk lace designed to lend a translucent grace, background vocalists of the Disco Era mesmerized with an enchanting charm never beheld by vocalists of any other music period in history.

Music History's Premier Background Vocalists
(from the Disco Era, 1974 - 1979)


The Sweethearts of Sigma: Barbara Ingram, Carla Benson, Evette Benton

The Waters: Maxine, Julia, Oren, Luther

The Jones Girls: Valerie, Shirley, Brenda

Brandye: Donna Davis, Pamela Vincent, Cynthia Douglas

The Birds of Paris: Sue Glover, Kay Garner, Madeline Bell, Sunny Leslie, Joanne Williams, Stephanie De Sykes, Jackie Sullivan, Jean Hawker

The Various Studio Singers Comprising the Following:

Ullanda McCullough, Zachary Sanders, Gwen Guthrie, Patti Austin

Diva Gray, Lani Groves, Gordon Grody, Annie Sutton, Ellen Bernfield

Linda November, Vivian Cherry, Arlene Martell, Helen Miles

Luther Vandross, Jocelyn Brown, Sharon Redd, Alfonzo Thornton, Ula Hedwig, Cissy Houston

Christine Wiltshire, Maeretha Stewart, Sharon Hendrix, Gretchen Studier, Petsye Powell, Judy Jones, Lacarol Jackson, Krystal Davis, Venus Dodson, Jocelyn Shaw, Yvonne Lewis

Vaneese Thomas, Carolyn Mitchell, Brenda Hill, Doris Jones, Barbara Pennington, L.J. Johnson, James Wells, Evelyn Thomas, Peaches Faison, Beverly McLin, Sheila Hart, Joy Yates, Jacqui Sullivan, Stevie Lange, George Chandler, Jimmy Helms, Jimmy Chambers

Brenda Hilliard, Albert Bailey, Diane Destry, Zulema Cusseaux.

The Emotions: Wanda Hutchinson, Sheila Hutchinson, Theresa Davis

The Duncan Sisters: Helen, Phyllis

Cinnamon: JoAnna Brown-El, Bernadene Davis, Francine Smith

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Eighteenth-century French revolutionaries did not set out to destroy the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris because of a loathing for Gothic art; adherents to the classics did not malign Baroque art in 16th-century Rome because of a distaste for the Baroque. Like all artforms, Gothic and Baroque embodied philosophies and sensibilities of past regimes, which, in the minds of the new generation, became symbols of the former school of thought and, through a filter of prejudice and hatred, grew to be a target of irrational obsession to obliterate from the mind and annul from history. Yet, the following correlation can be made: The more energy expended in this futile attempt to eradicate from history the artform the more enduring the artform actually becomes and the more wondrous the artform truly is on the grand scale of human culture. By the beginning of 1980, quickly and abruptly the term disco disappeared, for denuded was this civilization of its grand symphony-orchestra sound and the intellectual creativity and philosophy that demanded it, thereby delineating the end of the Disco Era. Yes, destroyed were the Woman's Movement and the Civil Rights Movement, but destroyed was all that the 1970s struggled to accomplish: a move toward humaneness. The glamorous and splendidly-bejeweled discotheque, embodying the ultimate fantasy - while the eyes reveled on sights imagined only in one’s most wonderful dreams, the ears feasted on the most glorious symphony-orchestral banquet, elevating one into phantasmagoric ecstasy - was the final rampart for elite chic. Hate-based profound ignorance and classlessness of 1980 desecrated the ideal and decimated the discotheque, reinstating like a recurring nightmare gone even more evil the dumpy danceclub anticulture of the 1950s and 1960s where the denim-and-flannel mindset prevailed. History evinces again that there have always been, intrinsic to the human condition, two verminous villains against any true intellectual artform:

1. those that do not understand the artform and through their depraved inanity and lowlife genetic programming must destroy the philosophical message that calls attention to their inferiority

and

2. those that do understand the artform and through their depraved inanity and lowlife genetic programming must destroy the philosophical message that calls attention to their inferiority.

Forever entombed was the epoch when songwriters and music arrangers and producers were true artists, free to express themselves and their messages by right not privilege, and to emphasize and intensify complex human emotions by the complexity of arrangements of symphony-orchestral elements, and to mix the multifarious music tracks down to one empassioned, intellect-based masterpiece. 1980 Introduced an embroiling insurrection whose basis was an ethic that not only accepted but promoted and encouraged the plunder of others' artworks, and, in the case of music, with simple-minded computer-generated overdubs and affects hoping to compensate for the absence of substance, with the self-insulting new term extended mix, a euphemism for "end-product of trying to make something out of nothing, and longer." Following suit, the disco-singles covers of the 1970s - the vertex of lithographic design announcing the zenith of audio technology within their sleeves - gave way to 1980s' intelligence-and-culture vacuum - completely black, or, when graphics were used, the appearance of a pasting together by a simpleton - devoid of intellect, artistry, and pride signifying the black hole into which this civilization plunged after the Fall. Imagine a literary master with knowledge of every word in the English language and the understanding of the logic and syntactical structure of the last 2,000 years of Western language reduced to communicating ideas with a vocabulary comprising yes and no; and, further, imagine a society's willing acceptance of this new language; and, even further, imagine a society's being entertained by this new form of expression. To be nearly-completely stripped of vocabulary, or, even worse, to find the means of expression now solely garnered in a keyboard spewing synthetic sounds and synthetic graphics, and computer technology reducing intellectual and creative input, was as destructive to this society's intellectual and creative development as it was to the psyche of those equipped with the intellect and intuition to understand the implications of even the tolerance of the submediocrity developed and promoted by the new breed of 1950s/1960s imbecile generation's offshoots, the 1980s soul-less, emotionless, classless braindead.

As a stake in the heart to the accomplishments of engineering masters who brought the elements of the symphony orchestra into our very presence, the compact disc - rendering its characteristic dead, one-dimensional sound - is monumental trophy of soul-less technology born of concession to substandard through inferior intellect, providing sufficient nutrient for desensitized, despirited dehumans.

So began the Intellectual-Artistic-Cultural-Philosophical-Psychological-Sociological Holocaust of January 1, 1980 and the dehumanization of humanity. Without sensual strings, redolent reeds, whimsical woodwinds, bedazzling brass, rhapsodic rhythms, mellifluous melodies, and voluptuous vocals - all derived from the soul and conceived to invigorate the spirit - what is the message trying to be conveyed by these creatures calling themselves musicians, record producers, humans? As with a biological organism, when decomposition begins, disintegration is thorough. The society that relinquished its soul in 1980 to the Alzheimer's president - who strove to revive the culturefree mental-retardation of the 1950s/1960s classless Elvis Presley/Marilyn Monroe/The Beatles/My Mother the Car/ Gilligan's Island/Petticoat Junction/Green Acres/Laugh-In/The Munsters/ Lost in Space/Hogan's Heroes/The Addam's Family/The Beverly Hillbillies/ Get Smart/The Flying Nun/I Dream of Jeannie/My Favorite Martian/Bewitched/ The Monkees/McHale's Navy/Gomer Pyle/F-Troop/Hee-Haw/Woodstock imbecile generation by a near-complete stripping of funds from the arts, sciences, and education - will forever pay for the state of inertia to which the energy of the 1970s Age of Enlightenment - reflecting the human intellectual, artistic, philosophical, and sociological ideal - was diminished. History's most obese, laziest, crudest, least-educated society's synthetic mode of expression from "music" to "fashion" to "film" to "television" to "journalism" to "design" to "architecture" mimicked the mood of the 1980s to present-day: flashy trash, rotten in its core, without philosophical, intellectual, or artistic basis, but plastic-coated for appearance purposes. Technology brought to a halt creative expression and imposed a conformity to submediocrity in every medium; born was faux marbre, faux music, faux feelings, faux thinking, faux humanity. The below-the-bottom-of-the-barrel standards governing the U.S. education system; the juvenile level of education of high school and university graduates; the debased quality of film, television, radio, and journalism; the resultant level of general knowledge and means of stimulation of the average American; and the consequential accelerated rate of violence and violent crime in this culturefree, sex-obsessed state since 1980 bespeak the manifestations of a humanoid society dying of its own self-worthlessness. Contrary to the perseverance of adversaries, however, as Gothic architecture with its characteristic immensity for levity still induces aspiration toward divinity, and, as the Baroque in its whimsical grandiosity still inspires majestic liberty, the artform known as disco will endure as the artform that entifies the intellectual and artistic culmination of this civilization.

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The Impact of The Fall (Page 2)
Sole Solution: Soul Revolution (Page 3)


copyright Dr. Rob [Click to send e-mail]