Disco: A Clear Derivation of Funk

Amaia Calhoun

Disco music is yet another example of a musical genre largely influenced by African American culture and ultimately, chosen by majority society for their entertainment. Historian Bryan Ward suggests that disco was “a time and place of leisure where an alternative, exciting, exotic and passionate lifestyle could be imagined, lived and enjoyed in the paradoxical peace of a high volume, high energy rhythmfest.” In this regard, disco can be thought of as more than merely a musical genre but rather a lifestyle including music, dance, fashion and culture.

Disco music developed in underground dance clubs in NYC in the 1970s providing entertainment for segments of urban society that identified as being on the margins of the American mainstream (i.e. African American, Latino and gay dancers). The disco music scene was controlled by a handful of black artists affiliated with a small group of specialized record labels led by Motown and Philadelphia International.

Popular disco artists include Gloria Gaynor and Donna Summer. To this day, their dance songs still get lots of people to the dance floor because of the beat.


Ward, Brian. Just My Soul Responding: Rhythm And Blues, Black Consciousness And Race Relations. Routledge, 2004.

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