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5
Feel the beat come down: house music as rhetoric
STAN HAWKINS

It's 4 a.m. and you're speeding. On the crowded dance space, jagged flashes of strobe lighting fuse with the booming sound of the sub-bass to create a kaleidoscope of sensations. The sonic roar is driven by the fast pace of the 125 bpm beat, transporting you to a destination far removed from the grim realities of everyday life. Blood pressure rises as the temperature in the room intensifies and the beat takes control; all inhibitions are abandoned for euphoria. Lost in the music, you are aware of your feelings for all sharing the dancefloor as the serotonin in your body creates waves of depthless bliss. Suddenly the break section is upon us and the regular 44 beat becomes layered with the amorous moans of a female vocalist lifting our emotions to a higher plateau. Next the rhythm and bass drop out leaving the voice on its own, raw, exposed, orgasmic. Flanged into the mix, pleasurable groans fill the air as the strobes dissipate into a flood of purple haze. You want to swoon, fall, float, as suspense in waiting for the return of the beat becomes an excruciating eternity. Caught in time, the crowd appears in a trance swaying with arms raised in response to the ecstatic moans of the female vocalist. Starting up again, then, slowly, the beat begins to pound through: the throb of the kick drum punctuated with stabs of metal-edged brass sounds on the off-beats. No longer are you listening, but feeling the overpowering beat as everyone starts jacking to the energy with a fluency that locks into the beat.


Musicological considerations

My approach in this chapter is to suggest ways for evaluating the track described above by identifying some of the organizing structures

I would like to express my gratitude to Bjarne Kvinnsland of NoTAM (Norwegian Network for Technology, Acoustics and Music) for generously affording his time to assist with sonographic readings of 'French Kiss', as well as discussing with me technological-related issues relevant to the development of popular music analysis.

-80-

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